Landing the right enterprise account is a big achievement, with new revenue and healthy margins being two obvious things to celebrate. But unlike smaller account wins, the real significance of the victory is the huge potential for growth over time.
Of course, enterprise pursuits require much time and effort, and bring unique challenges for sales teams. But the payoff can be huge, as enterprise accounts are marketplaces in and of themselves – vast fields of fertile soil that await new seeds of growth. So how can you best take advantage of this immense potential?
First, understand and execute the true teaming of sales and delivery. The so-called “hand-off” from sales to delivery, also known as “detaching the sales team with an ax,” is unworkable if the aim is to grow major accounts. Just as delivery team members must be actively engaged in enterprise pursuits, the continued active involvement of sales after the win supports continuing growth. This ongoing process of sales and delivery is what generates streams of transactions in long-term account relationships. That’s the enterprise world.
To make it happen, you must follow a practical account growth framework. In Sandler Enterprise Selling, we focus on the five following growth paths:
- Organic Growth - Most selling organizations routinely implement this channel. Not all do so effectively, though, as the dreaded “hand-off” often minimizes the likelihood of extensions and renewals, to say nothing of account expansion. When properly implemented, Organic Growth also prioritizes selling additional offerings to the many other areas that eventually present themselves within the account that has said “Yes” to you. Simply put, Organic Growth, when done right, means going deep and wide within the account, and within your product/service portfolio.
- Partnerships and Alliances - In enterprise pursuits, you often partner with allies to enhance your solution. And in delivering, you are also likely to interact with other noncompetitive firms. In both scenarios, the connections can create important new opportunities. But you must be proactive to create mutual victories … by actively taking a team selling approach with your new partners.
- Family Tree - Enterprise accounts’ extended networks of parents, subsidiaries and sister companies represent yet another tier of viable prospects. Think about it. If Dairy Queen is your client, might you have opportunities with Fruit of the Loom? Or Geico? Or NetJets? Yes. Why? Because they’re all Berkshire-Hathaway companies – all family members. Of course, Dairy Queen would never beg to give you their business simply because of Geico. It’s just not going to happen. But the organizational connection and the networking possibilities can add warmth and credibility to an initial contact – and give you the potential for a promising start.
- Alumni - In enterprise accounts, contacts come and go. Proactively following those who are exiting can open new doors for you. And what about the new contacts who take their place? How about seeking their guidance regarding opportunities with previous employers? Yes, this takes work and time. But again, it adds warmth to the outreach, and the potential payoff is huge.
- Customer’s Customer - With enterprise accounts, you often interact directly with the account’s clients, the end customers to whom you deliver direct benefit. What about reaching out these firms, who are already familiar with the quality of your work, about the possibility of working together? Common sense is key here. Respect and business etiquette dictate that you never randomly contact your client’s customers without permission. Be smart about this, though, and the odds are your client will be supportive – and perhaps actively helpful.
In the end, your mindset must be that account expansion is a professional obligation. You owe it to yourself and all your organization’s stakeholders, as the growth benefits all. Most importantly, though, you owe it to your enterprise account. They selected you and invested in you as their partner. For you to neglect seeking every possible way to deliver additional value would be doing them a great disservice. Internalize that mindset, follow the framework, and bloom where you’re planted!