Strengthen your B2B relationships and increase sales.

welcome

About Sales Guard

Sales Guard helps account managers build strong B2B relationships and increase sales from the most important accounts.
Also, Sales Guard is the sales managers’ time saving tool for overviewing both churn signals and sales opportunities uncovered from surveying individual customers – and to monitor the corresponding actions initiated by account managers.
The management team uses Sales Guard to get a quick overview of the true ”health condition” of the company’s top accounts. A continuous inflow of new sales opportunities and ideas for future business cooperation – formulated by the customers’ key decision makers – gives the top executives a unique opportunity to perform customer driven business development.

Each customer's "health condition" at your fingertips

The Customer List is the account managers’ platform for taking action towards individual B2B customers:

  • Identify problem areas and sales opportunities in a second.
  • Understand their nature by reading the customers’ own comments.
  • Plan the necessary actions in order to solve the problems and pursue sales opportunities.
Each customer's

How strong is the customer base?

The Customer Relation Status overview gives management a total picture of the current ”health condition” of the B2B customer base or within a specific segment:

  • Are the key accounts committed towards our company?
  • Do our products, processes and people give excellent performance as viewed by our customers - any areas in need of improvement?
  • What are the possibilities of increasing sales to our customers?
How strong is the customer base?

Where should our focus be?

The management team uses Sales Guard to uncover customer segments in need of special attention:

  • Which performance areas are in need of strategic attention to raise future customer performance for the company as a whole?
  • Are there any specific customer segments – geographical regions or product areas – holding an unusually amount of ”red customers” or sales opportunities?
Where should our focus be?
Sales Guard - Get closer to the customers

Sales Guard - Get closer to the customers

At Aalund we specialise in helping B2B-companies increase sales to their existing customers.

See more

…some of our clients

These professional companies use Sales Guard to strengthen B2B relationships and increase sales

Collierss

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SEB

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PwC

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Saharas

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DNB

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Deloitte

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07 interaktiv

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klp

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Nordea Liv &Pension

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BankInvest

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Statens Pensjonskasse (SPK)

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BDO

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RSM

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Topdanmark

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Unimicro

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EY

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Arla Foods Ingredients

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News Lab

29th of June 2020

Sales Guard - Get closer to the customers

At Aalund we specialise in helping B2B-companies increase sales to their existing customers. We work together with a number of large companies who all have a strategic goal; to grow by developing the customers that they already have in their fold.

1st of January 1970

Sales Guard - Get the ’R’ back in your CRM-system

At Aalund we specialize in helping B2B-companies to increase sales to their most important customers. We help the companies to work more structurally with each of their key accounts.

24th of May 2018

Large corporations plan to boost digitalization of their B2B sales organizations in 2018!

Top B2B commercial executives: “Optimizing the use of sales tools and CRM systems – as well as introducing a more digital and well-structured key account management approach - will be the coming year’s most important actions in order to boost sales to existing customers”. (Source: Sales Guard’s B2B Commercial Executive Survey 2017/2018) “Realizing the significant sales potential among existing B2B accounts has top priority..” According to the vast majority of commercial executives at large Scandinavian companies, there is a lot more business to be won from existing B2B accounts. This is true for both exporting companies and companies servicing only their home market. As a consequence, the majority of companies prioritize upsell activities aimed at existing accounts rather than trying to attract new potential customers. Only one out of ten B2B corporations say that winning new customers is more important. Moreover, these companies are typically in the process of penetrating new foreign markets with an obvious need for winning new customers. Chart 1: In your opinion, is the unrealized upsell potential among existing account more than 20% or less? Chart 2: What is your first priority – upselling to existing accounts or winning new customers? **** **“..and calls for a more systematic use of sales tools and CRM systems as well as digitalization of sales organizations’ workflow”.** In order to win more business among existing accounts, commercial executives say that optimizing the use of sales tools – e.g. CRM systems, Customer Feedback Management Platforms (CFMP) and other tools – will be the coming year’s single most important action. The overall goal is to help account managers manage their key accounts in a more structured way including preparation of account plans and coordination of customer initiatives and upsell activities. Moreover, it seems like a widespread tendency that the total workflow of B2B sales organizations are in the process of being digitalized, meaning that account managers are able to reduce time spent on manual paperwork. As a consequence, even more time can be spent on tightening relations to the most important customers including identification of upsell possibilities as well as sales initiatives. Chart 3: What will be the coming year’s most important action in order to increase sales to your existing B2B accounts? *Note: The sum of percentages may exceed 100 as it is possible to give more than one answer to the question.* Commercial executives on the coming year’s most important action in order to increase sales to existing accounts: • “I believe it’s all about deploying the newest sales tools. It has to do with a structured sales process, CRM systems and Value-added sales” (Managing Director) • “We hope for the technological development to give us tools, that make it easier to control the sales processes as well as relationship building activities” (Market Manager) • “Well-designed customer follow-up systems will be crucial. They must help account managers to prioritize which accounts to contact both in the short and long term” (Sales Director) • “Without question, it will be about better utilization of our existing CRM system in order to get a full picture of when different customer initiatives should be carried out. We also need to improve our ability to register important customer information” (CCO) • “We are in the process of establishing an account plan for each of our most important customers. These plans are made in close cooperation with the customers. On this basis we formulate explicit upsell goals for the account manager to realize within a certain time period” (Sales Director) • “We plan to streamline the process of managing our key accounts. We need to implement account planning and segment strategies as well as coordination with local salespeople in foreign markets who know the upsell potential of each account” (CCO) • “I believe it will be important to have a well-coordinated communication effort both internally and with customers. Moreover, we need to improve our ability to proactively identify changes in the customer’s decision making center and to build relationships with new decision makers before they are formally appointed” (Sales Director) • “I truly believe that the ability to digitalize processes and make things easier will be our most important effort. We are in the process of designing a system for account managers to find information themselves including KPI’s (Sales Director) • “For those of our customers who represent the biggest upsell potential we need a much deeper understanding of their business and challenges. Hereby, we will be able to identify their core needs” (Sales Director) • “We will increasingly use internal tools for customer relationship management in order to manage our customer portfolio. Not only to the sales organization’s advantage but also to keep our internal people up to date with what’s going on among our most important customers” (Sales Director) • ”We need to do much better when it comes to advising our customers. More systematic follow-up processes enabling us to identify upsell possibilities. Some account managers don’t have this focus – they need to be alert and look for possibilities” (Sales Director) About the survey Sales Guard’s B2B Commercial Executives Survey uncovers best practice within the area of B2B upsell strategies, sales management and customer relationship management among the biggest Scandinavian corporations. The survey is conducted once a year. The 2017/2018 survey was conducted in the period of October 2017 - March 2018 among 135 commercial Executives in Norway and Denmark. Interviews in local languages were done by telephone from Aalund Research Center in Aarhus, Denmark. Main conclusions are published in a series of newsletters on www.salesguard.com in the period of May - November 2018. Survey sample

18th of January 2018

Dear commercial B2B executives – do you know the true “health condition” of your key accounts?

KPI/NPS surveys by email are growing in number among B2B companies… An increasing number of B2B companies engage in different types of customer feedback surveys in order to become more customer oriented. And the possibility of designing automatic survey processes, including do-it-yourself email surveys - combined with instant follow-up by account managers or customer service professionals - have gained quite a lot of attention as these tools are cheap and easy to use. Moreover, the utilization of these survey tools and processes gives top management a sense of being customer oriented and being "on top of the business situation” as they are able to describe the company’s customer performance with one single KPI (E.g total customer satisfaction index, NPS score etc.). …but fail to deliver in-depth upsell information from each individual key account… However, while these tools supply excellent input to strategy development and implementation of customer-oriented initiatives for the company as a whole – as well as solving problems among customers who reply to the surveys - they fall short when it comes to uncovering the true “health condition” and upsell potential of each of the company’s most important customers (key accounts). “If 20 or 30% of your customers reply to your KPI/NPS email surveys you don’t know how your business is really doing!” …because of low response rates and automated/uninspiring interview procedures. Typically, key accounts represent the majority of the company’s total profits, making it critical for both account managers and top management to get in-depth feedback on current perceptions of the business relationship and future upsell possibilities from as many key accounts as possible – meaning at least 70-80%. But this doesn’t happen because of the low response rates and uninspiring interview procedures of many email surveys. Therefore, dear commercial executives – be more ambitious when it comes to knowing about the true “health condition” and upsell potential of your key accounts! If 20 or 30% of your customers reply to your KPI/NPS email surveys you don’t know how your business is really doing. B2B companies should implement high-quality upsell- and feedback procedures targeted at key accounts! KPI/NPS surveys should be supplemented with specially designed tools and processes for strengthening relationships and uncovering upsell possibilities among key accounts. Moreover, these tools should collect feedback via telephone interviews rather than email surveys. When carefully designed, telephone interviews are able to raise response rates to 70-80%. And equally important, telephone dialogue supply 50-70% more words than web surveys when key accounts respond to open-ended questions in their own words. In order to reach this goal you need highly skilled telephone researchers specialized in B2B customer dialogue and with the ability to engage in professional dialogue with each individual key account. This will take the company’s key account insight to a much higher level and fuel upsell activities as well as customer-driven business development. by Morten Mau Kai - Managing Director Aalund Sales Guard Aalund Sales Guard helps professional B2B companies to strengthen relationships and increase upselling among key accounts . Sales Guard is a product by Aalund. Aalund is a Scandinavian research company with great experience in market-, customer- and employee analysis. Read more about Aalund and our other products at aalund.com .

28th of November 2017

The most successful account managers are relationship builders!

Top B2B commercial executives: “The most successful account managers are relationship builders with a well-structured approach to managing their accounts.” (Source: Sales Guard’s B2B Commercial Executive Survey 2016/2017) “High performing account managers are relationship builders...” When asked to characterize their company’s best performing account managers, commercial executives at large Scandinavian corporations say, that the ability and will to build strong relations with key customers is the single most important characteristic of these high performing account managers. By spending the majority of their time with customers in order to get close to each individual decision maker, these account managers are able to identify the customer’s unfulfilled needs and critical pains – and to tailor solutions and offerings accordingly at the early stages of the decision making process. Moreover, a well-structured approach to managing each key account as well as the ability to prioritize their own resources also distinguish high performers from the rest. This enables the account manager to spend time on the most promising business opportunities and to target those key decision makers who have been identified in advance. Very often these abilities are combined with a strong will to follow-up on planned activities. Other executives say that high performing account managers are those who have a strong personal drive and are passionate about their job. These account managers have a big appetite for closing deals and they fully understand and accept the need for meeting sales budgets. Chart 1: Consider the company’s best performing account managers – what is it that distinguishes these account managers from the rest? *Note: The sum of percentages may exceed 100 as it is possible to give more than one answer to the question.* Commercial executives on what it is that distinguishes top performing account managers from others: “They have an active and continuous relation with each single account – not only around “closing time” (CCO) “Their primary focus is to tighten the relation to the customer, this gives them better insights and thus more ideas for contacting the customer with suggestions or solutions. The more interactions the more sales opportunities” (Nordic Marketing & Sales Director) “They cultivate their network through contact and dialogue. We are seen as a commodity supplier and therefore personal relations are the only success criteria apart from price” (CCO) “High performers achieve their goals by networking with both product developers, the quality team, procurement and marketing at each key account. This enables them to enter the decision making process at an early stage and to challenge the customer by asking critical questions rather than talk only about price” (Sales Director) “They have a more analytical and structured approach to their account portfolio, this enables them to perform strategic selling as they design their offerings to fit the uncovered needs of the customers” (Regional VP) “They are structured and highly disciplined when it comes to planning and follow-up on planned actions” (Sales Director) “They are well prepared when they meet the customer, they have mapped the buying center, checked the background of each key decision maker and understand their pains and needs” (Global Sales Excellence Director) “They have the energy and the aggression to pursue possibilities that may seem “thin”, but nevertheless often end up as closed deals. It has nothing to do with luck – it is hard work” (Sales Manager) “They enjoy their job more than others. Those who have fun show high performance. Those who only give 90% to the job don’t” (Sales Director) “It’s all about will. Pure work effort and the will to learn new things” (Sales Director) “..whereas other account managers should be closely managed through personal coaching and ongoing dialogue.” When asked how to ensure that account managers spend their time on the things that management wants them to address, commercial executives say that this takes intensive coaching allied with having a close relationship with each individual account manager. Furthermore, it is necessary to continuously follow-up on planned activities to make sure that account managers stay focused. Other executives point to the fact that CRM- or sales systems are standout methods in organizing both the planning and prioritization of sales activities as well as follow-up processes. If these systems are combined with KPI’s and maybe a corresponding bonus system, it enables management to monitor the performance of all of their account managers and to motivate each individual account manager in meeting his or her sales goals. Chart 2: How do you ensure that account managers spend their time on the things that you want them to address? *Note: The sum of percentages may exceed 100 as it is possible to give more than one answer to the question.* Commercial executives on how to make sure that account managers spend their time on the right things: “It’s all about presence, you need to be visible and have a close relationship and dialogue with your account managers” (Sales Director Nordic) “You need to put yourself in the position of the account manager and then do whatever it takes to motivate him or her. It takes human insight – you can’t do it with a sales tool as each account manager is different from the rest” (Sales Director) “It’s simple, you need day-to-day coaching, nothing else. People are different and they respond differently” (Sales Director) “Sales managers need to spend time with account managers and show them the way. This way you get to know each other and you are able to share experience and abilities. Managers should also participate in sales meetings together with account managers in order to introduce the strategic perspective” (Senior VP of Sales) “You need a constructive dialogue. We have weekly meetings in order to follow-up on current activities and for account managers to stay focused on planned actions” (Sales Director) “Follow-up is key! That you track each account manager and make sure that the actions you have agreed upon are actually carried out” (Sales Director) “We use a CRM-system in which account managers fill out meeting reports every day. Every week I take out account manager statistics. It’s all about using the sales tools the right way” (COO) “One word: CRM! As soon as you start monitoring we all know that things become more efficient – like it or not. Moreover, if account managers are able to see what their colleagues are doing, they understand the advantages of the system” (Sales Director) “You’ve got to define KPI’s and connect these to a bonus system. This way you define the direction you want account managers to follow. It’s important though that account managers understand the purpose of the system – that it is meant to help them rather than being a control system” (CCO) “We did some time mapping in order to see how account managers spend their time. Then we tried to remove time spent on administrative tasks and internal stuff” (Sales Director) About the survey Sales Guard’s B2B Commercial Executives Survey uncovers best practice within the area of B2B upsell strategies, sales management and customer relationship management among the biggest Scandinavian corporations. The survey was conducted in the period of July–December 2016 among 249 commercial Executives in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Interviews in local languages were done by telephone from Aalund Research Center in Aarhus, Denmark. Main conclusions are published in a series of newsletters on www.salesguard.com in the period of January–November 2017. Survey sample

23rd of May 2017

Reorganize your B2B sales force and increase sales!

Top B2B commercial executives: “Reorganizing the B2B sales force and moving closer to our customers have been our most important actions in order to increase sales'” (Source: Sales Guard’s B2B Commercial Executive Survey 2016/2017) When asked about which single action had the most positive impact on sales for existing B2B accounts in the last two years, commercial executives at large Scandinavian corporations point to reorganizing their sales force. Some say that dividing their sales force into smaller units, enabling their sales people to focus on specific customer segments or products, raised sales for existing accounts – whereas others experienced sales growth after bringing in new sales people, simplifying communication and responsibility lines or removing administrative tasks from the sales peoples’ desks. Apart from restructuring their sales force, commercial executives also experience increased sales after implementing “closer-to-the-customer initiatives” or supplying their sales people with new digital sales tools such as CRM systems or different types of analytical/calculation tools. Furthermore, some exporters say that introducing new products and continuously working with product development has been the primary reason for sales growth among existing customers. Chart 1: In the last two years, which single action has had the most positive impact on sales for your existing B2B accounts? Commercial executives on which single action had the most positive impact on sales: “We divided our sales force into different divisions at the same time appointing some new, younger colleagues as leaders of each division – and saw them grow each individual business (COO)” “The best thing we ever did was to divide our sales force into smaller units in order to increase focus on each business area” (Country General Manager) “We slim-lined our sales organization making lines of communication as well as responsibility structures more simple” (Sales Director) “We made a big-scale organizational change in the sense that the sales function now reports closer to corporate management. Moreover, we now have three sales executives in the corporate management team” (Director) “We introduced a new “Global Key Account Manager” position in order to fit the centralized decision making structures of our global accounts and have the necessary strategic dialogue at this level” (Global Key Account Manager) “We arranged a customer symposium giving us three days of access to customers from all over the world, presenting our products and listening to customer needs” (Vice President Sales) “We introduced “business get-togethers” which basically just means spending more time with each customer than is usually seen in our industry – in order to discuss new possibilities of cooperation and present our total offering” (Sales Manager) “We bought Ipads for our sales people giving them direct access to our CRM system and product demos. This raised the quality of our presentations and moreover the sales people started tapping in important information in the CRM system” (Sales Director) “We introduced some new online tools for the sales people giving them both online and off line access to all relevant product information” (Director Sales & Marketing) “We segmented our customers by profitability and share of volume in order to identify the most important strategic accounts – then we rolled out specific actions targeted at these accounts in order to secure our business” (Sales & Marketing Director) About the survey Sales Guard’s B2B Commercial Executives Survey uncovers best practice within the area of B2B upsell strategies, sales management and customer relationship management among the biggest Scandinavian corporations. The survey was conducted in the period of July–December 2016 among 249 commercial Executives in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Interviews in local languages were done by telephone from Aalund Research Center in Aarhus, Denmark. Main conclusions are published in a series of newsletters on www.salesguard.com in the period of January–July 2017. Survey sample

20th of January 2017

Account managers should strengthen relations to B2B accounts!

Top B2B commercial executives: “Grow your business by increasing sales to existing B2B accounts - account managers should strengthen relations with key decision makers in order to understand their customer's business'” (Source: Sales Guard’s B2B Commercial Executive Survey 2016/2017) “Upselling to existing B2B accounts is more important than finding new customers..” According to the majority of commercial executives at large Scandinavian corporations, upselling to existing B2B accounts is given higher priority than the hunt for new customers. This is true for both exporters and domestic suppliers – in fact it is hard to find domestic suppliers who state that finding new customers is more important than upselling. Chart 1: What is your first priority – upselling to existing accounts or winning new customers? “..because the business potential among existing accounts is significant..” The fact that selling more to existing accounts is more profitable than trying to penetrate new potential customers is old news. However, this is only true if there is more business to be won from existing customers. The vast majority of commercial executives say this actually is the case. Moreover, according to this vast majority , the business potential is significant. Emphasizing the importance of upsell activities in order to increase sales accordingly. Chart 2: In your opinion, is the unrealized upsell potential among existing account more than 20% or less? “..however, upselling isn’t account managers’ primary focus…” Even though there is more business to be won from existing accounts, commercial executives say that account managers often spend most of their time trying to maintain existing business at their old, loyal accounts. This means reselling the same products and services as used up until now and working within areas in which account managers have competence and feel safe. As a consequence, less attention is given to analyzing upsell opportunities and planning how to win more business from existing customers. Chart 3: What is typically the reason for not realizing a potential upsell at an existing account? *Note: The sum of percentages may exceed 100 as it is possible to give more than one answer to the question.* Commercial executives on why a sales potential is not realized: “We didn’t give enough attention to the customer. Even though it is a big account the account manager preferred to chase other accounts” (Commercial Director) “You forget to uncover the total upsell potential as you think you know the customer – but you don’t. It’s a classical mistake” (Sales Director) “The account manager may be successful within a specific product area but has limited knowledge about our other areas. Therefore he doesn’t present the customer with the whole package” (VP Sales) “Account managers feel safe when they are in their comfort zone – but this doesn’t take our business forward” (Sales Director) “It comes down to asking the right questions. If you don’t spend enough time with the customer, you fail to uncover upsell opportunities” (CCO) “You take the customer for granted and fail to do follow-ups” (Sales & Marketing Director) “Our competitor offers lower prices or has closer relations with the customer – or the customer doesn’t know our total product range” (Sales Director) “We don’t have the right connections on all organizational levels – it isn’t enough to know the procurement manager, we need to know engineers and product development people” (Sales & Marketing Director) “It has to do with account manager’s insecurity, they don’t have sufficient knowledge about a specific product therefore the sales approach becomes too narrow” (Global Sales Director) “To many account managers talk about products rather than solutions. If they talk about solutions, they bring the customer closer and a partnership evolves” (General Manager) “..therefore, account managers must spend more time strengthening relations to key decision makers at existing B2B accounts in order to fully understand these customers’ business.” When asked about the most effective upselling measures, commercial executives say that closer personal relations with key decision makers, as well as continuous dialogue, is a prerequisite for increasing business with existing accounts. In this way the account manager gains an in-depth understanding of the customer’s business processes and challenges - and is able to communicate the value propositions more clearly. Chart 4: In your experience - what is the most efficient measure in order to create upsell at an existing account? *Note: The sum of percentages may exceed 100 as it is possible to give more than one answer to the question.* Commercial executives on most effective upsell measures: “Relations are everything, you need to be at the right decision making level. You have to understand the customer before explaining about your other products. You think you know what the customer want but you don’t” (VP Sales) “You need to be close to the customer – on more levels. Good relations to different stake holders such as marketing and product development, this presence is the most effective way to learn about future business possibilities” (Global Business Development Director) “It’s about staying close to the customer, understand their needs and to proactively suggest solutions” (Sales Manager) “The key to more business is a long lasting business relationship and the fact that you have proven to be a reliable supplier of excellent quality” (Business Area Director) It sounds like a cliché but you need to understand the customer’s basic needs and know where he is going in order to suggest new solutions. It is essential to know their most important pains in order to proactively pinpoint the services they need” (COO) “Understand the customer’s manufacturing processes. Once we know what they do, we are able to uncover what they need and when they need it” (Key Account Director) “If we know the customer well, we should have the courage to challenge the way they do business” (Sales Director) “You need to really listen to the customer – understand their needs. Then you present a solution which makes their day-to-day work processes easier” (Sales Director) “Extensive account manager training and strong support from the whole organization in order for them to be able to present our total product range to our accounts” (Product Area Director) “Focus on value adding rather than product. Understand the customer’s strategy and challenge it - find the pains” (Global Key Account Manager) About the survey Sales Guard’s B2B Commercial Executives Survey uncovers best practice within the area of B2B upsell strategies, sales management and customer relationship management among the biggest Scandinavian corporations. The survey was conducted in the period of July–December 2016 among 249 commercial Executives in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Interviews in local languages were done by telephone from Aalund Research Center in Aarhus, Denmark. Main conclusions are published in a series of newsletters on www.salesguard.com in the period of January–July 2017. Survey sample

19th of January 2017

Close relations to B2B accounts are crucial!

Top B2B commercial executives: “It is crucial to our sales performance that account managers build close relations to their B2B accounts” (Source: Sales Guard’s B2B Commercial Executive Survey 2016/2017) According to the vast majority of commercial executives at large Scandinavian corporations, there is a clear link between account managers’ ability to build close relations to B2B accounts and the sales performance of the company. This viewpoint, as expressed by both domestic suppliers and exporters, explains the widespread use of relationship building initiatives by B2B companies. Chart 1: In terms of your company’s sales performance – how do you rate the importance of account managers building close relations to existing B2B accounts? About the survey Sales Guard’s B2B Commercial Executives Survey uncovers best practice within the area of B2B upsell strategies, sales management and customer relationship management among the biggest Scandinavian corporations. The survey was conducted in the period of July–December 2016 among 249 commercial Executives in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Interviews in local languages were done by telephone from Aalund Research Center in Aarhus, Denmark. Main conclusions are published in a series of newsletters on www.salesguard.com in the period of January–July 2017. Survey sample

Contact us

Denmark & International

Morten Mau Kai

Managing Director

mk@aalund.com

+45 40 44 38 51

Denmark & Sweden

Isabella Kjeldsen

Director

ik@aalund.com

+45 20 20 26 25

Norway

Gudbrand Gråbak

Market Director

gg@aalund.com

+47 90 54 94 12

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