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LEAD Your Team to Market Share GAINS

1 Nov, 2006 By: Tom Callinan imageSource

LEAD Your Team to Market Share GAINS

If you read my last two articles you have set your territorial foundation
with the proper allocation of MIF and you have layered on your targeted
prospects through market segmentation.  Now how are you going to lead your team
to market share gains?

I consciously use the word lead.  Many sales managers wait for their team
members to come to them with issues or questions.  Frankly, some managers like
playing the hero and helping a rep set a strategy for a difficult account.
That’s fine as long as they spend most of their time being a proactive and
teaching hero versus a last minute save-the-day hero. Save-the-day heroes create
dependency and teaching heroes create empowerment. In general, sales
representatives are a talented group of individuals, but that talent is
primarily tactical, and organization is not typically a main characteristic, so
a sales manager’s assistance should be welcomed.

In my opinion, the number one priority of a manager is to develop the
employees entrusted to their care.  If a sales manager develops their employees,
your sales will increase—guaranteed.  Foremost, one of the best ways of doing
this is to provide open communication regarding a sales rep’s accounts. This is
best done by scheduling designated times for account reviews.

So what is an account review?

Simply put, it is a team-based periodic strategic review of each of your current
customers and prospects.  Periodic in that it occurs every quarter for the
majority of your customers and prospects, and twice per year for the remainder. 
Strategic in that the focus is on getting higher and wider in the account before
the account is in the buying cycle and looks for beachheads to establish a
presence with competitive accounts.  And is team-based because at a minimum, the
manager and the sales rep discuss each of the rep’s base accounts and prospects.

  • Account review benefits include:
  • Development of the sales team

  • The rewards of team-based selling

  • Helping to direct the sales focus

  • Getting new business

If an account produces a meaningful amount of revenue, say over $50K per
year, or has the potential to produce a meaningful amount of revenue in the case
of a prospect, you would want to conduct an account review every quarter.  If
the account does not have this threshold revenue potential, you may want to
conduct an account review every six months.  In the latter case you need to
rationalize the effort if it’s a prospect; check why  you’re focused on accounts
that cannot produce some threshold revenue stream, and if you need to look at
populating other prospect accounts.

The manager needs to select a minimum of five accounts to review with each
rep each week.  Do not leave this step to the sales rep or you will never know
their progress on many accounts.  The best approach is to put each of the rep’s
accounts into a schedule and then the rep just shows up for the account review
with the pre-selected accounts. If you have not been conducting account reviews
prior to this, focus initially on your own accounts, say, four to their one per
week the first month, then move up to three-to-two, and so forth.  Eventually,
you want to spend more time on prospects since the rep will need to spend more
than half of their time on prospects in order to achieve quota, that is,
assuming you set quota at a 70% MIF ratio or lower.

A major account review on average will take 30 minutes and a general line
account review approximately ten minutes.  For the first-time review of each
account, allow up to 50% more time in your scheduling.  The manager should
schedule reviews in two hour blocks, with two reps, one hour each.  Schedule
your reviews to start at different times each day to keep things fresh. Somebody
in senior management—President, VP of Sales, CFO, VP of Service—should
participate in the account reviews on the top 10 percent of customers and
prospects (hereafter referred to as accounts).  Sales specialists (color,
professional services, etc.) should participate where it makes sense, thought it
may take one round through the general line accounts to make that

The sales rep should bring to the review an account overview on each account.
This is what some sales trainers used to call the blue sheet: basic information
about the account and the installed base and competition (feel free to email me
for a template).  You will need an organizational chart and if possible, an
annual report.  If an annual report is not available you will need at a minimum,
biographies on each executive and, if applicable, board members. You should also
have copies of any significant business news regarding the account.

The keys to winning the business

The ultimate goal is to win more business, and in order to achieve that goal
you need to make consistent forward progress.  Forward progress can be defined
as building a new relationship on the same level as your current highest
relationship (wider), e.g., the director of IT to compliment the relationship
your company has with the director of facilities.  There are other definitions
for progress including developing a relationship at a higher level in the
account—say with the CFO—or using a special situation such as a remote
installation to establish a beachhead in an account.

I cannot possibly cover all areas to look for in an account review in this
article.  What I will emphasize is that you cannot depend on the rep to
establish and maintain all of the required relationships in one account.  The
rep’s current contact may become alienated if the rep aggressively seeks out
additional relationships within the account, but, as relationship gaps are
identified, someone in your organization needs to take the lead on establishing
that relationship.  This is where account bios help; is the CFO a member of your
alumni association or a board member of one of your other customers?  Is the
director or IT on the board of a local non-profit you support?  Is the account a
customer or vendor of one of your other accounts?  The key is not only finding
and pursuing the relationship paths, but maintaining the overall relationship
for the long-term.

From an offensive perspective as you develop these relationships, you will
probably be better positioned than the incumbent in the account. You now need to
identify beachheads to leverage your relationships.  How do you get your foot in
the door?  Is it through electronic forms management or a B2C placement?  Is it
a remote office that the incumbent cannot service directly but that you can or
through a CPP program for their printer fleet?  Following an account’s company
news will help you to identify opportunities, as will your contacts within the
account.  The point is, you need to develop the relationship and, through
team-based selling, find ways to penetrate the account higher and wider while
you brainstorm on tactical and strategic approaches to gaining “share of wallet”
regarding each customer.

Once you do a dozen or so account reviews you will get good at it.  More
importantly, once your reps participate in a few dozen account reviews they will
have experienced more development than they could have imagined.  The reviews
will get crisper and deeper and your market share gains will have surely

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