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Adjust Your Account Management Process for H2

Growing accounts

conducting a mid-year review of accounts

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Now is the Time to Adjust Your Account Management Process

When your customer's needs are constantly evolving, your account management process should too. Halfway through the year, it’s time to check-in with major accounts. In Q3, sales professionals need to analyse how their progress aligns with the original intent. As circumstances and needs change, sellers need to build a deeper, ongoing understanding of their accounts. For example, the Business Confidence Index (BCI) has fallen every month since February of 2023.

While these trends present challenges, there are some factors that offer optimism. Today, most major financial institutions have strong balance sheets. Meanwhile, inflation continues to moderate. These numbers – some encouraging, others not – illustrate just how much is in flux as businesses begin to see themselves through 2023.

A mid-year reassessment not only ensures that the sales professional’s direction and messaging remain relevant, it also reveals white space in accounts that may not have been available six months ago.

Here we look at the three considerations critical to conducting a mid-year check-in with strategic accounts.

1. Acknowledge That the Value Delivered in the first quarter May Not Carry Far In the second

The scope of changes developing today means that value offered in H1 likely has less relevance than it did just months ago. This can quietly destabilise a sale.

The prospect is unlikely to volunteer the fact that they are facing new challenges and have new needs. Therefore, the sales professional needs to explore any silent evidence that suggests that the nature of the opportunity has changed.

This responsibility is critical for success, even within pursuits that appear poised for a win. When stakeholders provide early encouragement, sales professionals feel reassured. Sellers should not base their account success only on their initial assessment as circumstances may have changed throughout the year. In these cases, a mid-year check-in may become a full reassessment. Sales professionals should expect that some pursuits will require a top-to-bottom review wherein the sales cycle will restart.

A new set of questions from the sales professional will likely reveal that the customer’s digital transformation efforts have intensified. These initiatives – already in place before the pandemic – have been given top priority as executives seek to integrate digital capabilities into all levels of the business.

Sales professionals will need to learn how their solution fits into the more complex setting of a digital framework. Moreover, they will need to gain clarity on how the stakeholders define the term digital transformation. For some, it signifies their commitment to shifting more of their business capabilities to the cloud. For others, it may represent their plans to change their business to a frictionless subscription-based model.

Sales professionals should also investigate the customer’s revised budget. This can impact how the customer’s value structure has changed and how those changes make other characteristics of the solution important.

Learn more about how to help your clients through digital transformation by downloading the white paper, Selling in the Era of Digital Transformation

2. Understand How the Solution Plays Into the Customer's New Need for Agility

A survey conducted by IBM gathered responses from 3,450 executives across 22 industries in 20 countries. This research found that 86% of executives anticipate that cash-flow and liquidity management will be a key priority in the near future.

This outcome illustrates the importance executives are placing on the ability to make quick agile moves. Leaders need cash at hand to execute operational and organizational changes fast.

Sales professionals should take note of this clear consensus. The same body of research concluded that “supply-chain reliability is of rising importance, with 40 percent of executives stressing the need for spare capacity to weather future crises.”

Stakeholders need solutions that adapt to changing circumstances. Upheaval is no longer an abstract word. When conducting a mid-year check-in, sales professionals should attempt to gauge just how important agility is to the stakeholders.

Understanding the nature of the customer’s need for agility – be it in the supply chain, IT infrastructure, or operations – is critical to the sales professional's ultimate value proposition. According to conclusions in the McKinsey study, “there is a resiliency premium on recovery.” Their research evaluated the financial standing of 1,500 companies and learned that “top performers won’t sit on their strengths; instead, as in previous downturns, they will seek out ways to build them.”

This area of analysis is where sales professionals are most likely to find new white space that may not have been present in H1. The reason: building on strengths and developing agility both require substantial investments.

3. Reassess How the Customer's Core Strategic and Revenue Drivers Have Changed

When conducting a mid-year check-in, it is critical to understand the major directional changes in the customer’s business.

Often, strategic account follow-up consists of questions that seek to clarify the detail surrounding needs and goals. In the current setting, these questions are not enough. Sales professionals need to understand how the fundamentals of the customer’s business have changed.

Operational resilience has become a central priority for many businesses in the second half of 2023. These sweeping changes explain why more stakeholders are using descriptors like “end-to-end value-chain digitisation,” “start-up mindset,” and “sustainable operations reconfiguration.”

These phrases signal that change is occurring in the bedrock of organisations, not at the edges. More importantly, executives are discovering that the main revenue channels of the near future will look different than those of the previous year. This development is reflected in data from PwC, showing that “CFOs are pursuing changes across many dimensions to capture growth. Changes to products or service offerings, whether new or repurposed, are by far the most pressing, according to 63% of respondents.”

The most effective sales professionals seize this opportunity to learn how the customer’s path to profitability has changed. With this information, the sales professional can more accurately assess what characteristics of their solution are both differentiated and of meaningful value to the customer.

Stakeholders are finding their new direction. Agile sales professionals that track those changes, or even guide them, are poised for success. Learn more about how to develop agile selling skills with our Sprint Selling programme.

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