7 months ago
February 21, 2017

How to Learn About a New Sales Account

Follow these three tips for learning about a new sales account to begin building your partnership.

Claire McConnachie

When you have a new sales account, whether the sales account has previously been active with your company or is newly acquired, it is important to be proactive about collecting information about that account. With the necessary information about a sales account at your disposal you can determine what will work and what will not work to meet your account’s expectations. On this foundation, you will be able to begin seeking out new opportunities for the sales account and your own organization. Materially, you will be able to move ahead of your sales account’s basic needs and provide value that will allow your sales account to gain competitive advantages in its own marketplace. Follow these three tips for learning about a new sales account to begin building your partnership.

Prepare Ahead of the First Meeting

The decision makers at your new sales account know what information is publicly visible about their organization and expect that as a sales professional you will have obtained the publicly available information before arriving to your first meeting. If you arrive unprepared and ask basic questions, a sales account will be less impressed and potentially less willing to move forward with you to the next step. Make sure that you are prepared ahead of the first meeting with your new sales account by:

  • Determining the size of the organization. Organization size can be rated by the number of employees or, if public, the annual operating budget. This will help you narrow down your sales approaches to engage the sales account.
  • Looking at the organization’s buying history. If a sales account is a new account to you but has done business with your company before, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the sales account history. Be prepared to address any negative or neutral experiences.
  • Finding out about the organization’s industry and direction. Where is your sales account trying to go, and how can your offerings fit into the big picture?

Ask About Your Sales Account’s Past Activities

It can be uncomfortable to ask a new sales account about your competitors, but in order to position yourself and your organization to best advantage it is necessary for you to know what your sales account has done in the past and might consider in the future. If you are pitching a sales account without knowing what your competitors are doing, you may be missing strategic opportunities without even being aware of it. Gain an advantage in talks between your organization, your sales account, and your competitors through:

  • Entering the topic of competitors with a reasonable introduction. Third party business decisions are a sensitive topic. Encourage your sales account to discuss talks by employing a framework of comparing value.
  • Tailoring your message to address the same value messages that your competitors are using. Listen carefully to your sales account to find out where your competitors are driving value and determine how your company can exceed that value for the sales account.
  • Avoiding the temptation to make direct comparisons. While you may know exactly which offering your competitors are offering your sales account, making direct comparisons without full information at your disposal may lead you to talk yourself out of a sale.

Consider Going Higher – and Lower – To Drive Value

The decision tree at your new sales account is likely complex, and may consist of multiple branches with which you have little or no direct contact. However, this lack of contact may be resulting in lack of opportunities due to communication bottlenecks. Reach out to your new sales account and make sure that you and your company are providing the strongest possible value by arranging meetings with decision makers at higher and lower points in the decision tree than the individuals with whom you typically work. This will allow you to spotlight areas where your company can provide products and services that compliment and support your new sales account’s goals.

Claire McConnachie

Claire is a Western University graduate with a background in recruiting, sales and customer service. As a Recruitment Consultant, her goals are to place the best people in the right roles resulting in satisfaction for both the candidate and client.