Some are just better than others. You know the accounts that I’m talking about; everyone in the plant knows who they are too. Your best accounts value the input and attention to detail you put into each project, they appreciate that you take the extra step to maintain their brand integrity and the value (the difference between the price paid and the results) you deliver exceeds their expectations. It’s all good.
How about the other accounts in your portfolio? The ones that when you ask the rep about them their reply is, “they aren’t great but it’s work.” These are the same ones that when their projects show up on the schedule the senior managers ask repeatedly “why are we still doing work for these folks?” It’s not personal-just business. They really don’t see or experience the same type of gratification that your best accounts have when working with you. There isn’t a connection. They don’t see any difference in working with you as opposed to their best alternatives. We often see these groups of client results when we perform NAPL’s eKG Competitive Edge ProfileTM. These are the ones that rate you the same as anyone else they would be working with.
NAPL’s Key Account AcceleratorTM is another place we see these results. Starting with your top 20 accounts, we determine three things: how significant, strategic and profitable are these accounts to your business. Next, take this to your “lower” 20 accounts and the difference becomes very clear.
Peter Drucker, that famed management guru talks about planned abandonment. Simply, the concept encourages business managers to regularly review their business to determine if anything is out of alignment with their stated goals and that might be taking up valuable resources or deterring their growth. He goes into much greater detail and I encourage you to read his work.
So what does planned abandonment and the fact that some accounts are just better than others have to do with each other? To me it’s about making choices, making the choice to work with the accounts that are significant, strategic and profitable and to replace the accounts that aren’t with better ones. This isn’t a “flip the switch” maneuver, rather this only happens by doing the work necessary to know your accounts, to know what you want and what you don’t want and finally to be able to say no to the ones that take you astray from your goals. It only works with a solid growth strategy that spells out the details, strategy and tactics and provides your sales reps with a roadmap of your expectations. To use a line from Jim Collins, this plan tells your team where the bus is going and what it will take to secure a seat. It’s hard work but the alternative is to stay the current course.
If you’ve created your own roadmap for success I’d like to hear from you – how’s it working?