Account managers should strengthen relations to B2B accounts!
Sales Guard - Get closer to the customers
Sales Guard - Get the ’R’ back in your CRM-system
Large corporations plan to boost digitalization of their B2B sales organizations in 2018!
Dear commercial B2B executives – do you know the true “health condition” of your key accounts?
Reading time: 5 minutes
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.