Strategic Account Management (SAM): One-Size-Does-Not-Fit-All
The Anatomy of a Sales Pitch
You have a hot lead for your software. It is a big opportunity. The lead came to you by way of the new prospect’s data entry clerk that has just returned from an outside workshop.
What is your pitch? What is the close? Can you get an order on the first call? Should you demand that the clerk’s manager, purchasing or an executive is present?
What would the clerk do with the information? How would you escalate to the next level? Y
You have already left all of your information with the clerk: brochures, pricing, testimonials. The only internal point of contact you have is the clerk.
An Introduction to Strategic Account Management
There are typically four points of contact (POCs) in every buying decision of a technology product or service: a user, a manager, a decision maker and a buyer. Each level could contain multiple contacts, a committee or an outside contractor. In smaller companies, one person might encompass all of the POCs.
There are many sales training systems that will help you create a winning sales strategy. The reality is that winning an order generally requires the navigation of a gauntlet to reach the decision maker – and, then, you must deal with the buyer.
The four major POCs have different interests:
The User - wants to make their job simpler.
The Manager – is interested in job security, accolades, key performance indicators (KPIs) and avoiding disruption.
The Decision Maker – wants to know the value proposition (lower cost, remain competitive, increased efficiency).
The Buyer – wants to understand what is being purchased, terms & conditions (the fine print) and payment terms.
ALL – want promises to be fulfilled.
You learn that Ted, the clerk, attended three of your competitors’ demonstrations at the workshop and Ted has followed up with all of them. Should you delay meeting with Ted until he can get others for your presentation? Probably not. Time might be of the essence.
So, you decide to make the call, schedule the appointment and go make your pitch: this is the product, here are the options, here is the pricing, any questions. Ted listens to your pitch patiently, thanks you for your time and says he will get back with you. You leave feeling great. You made a pitch and can add it to your forecast as a Step One opportunity. Right? Definitely not.
The reality is that Ted used your software at a previous job. His main interest was getting you to the next level. He wants to arrange a meeting with his manager. Who will be attending? How long do you need? Will you need a projector? Turns out, Ted did not need a software demonstration which burned 75% of your time together. He is actually more proficient with your software than you are.
Ted is your “inside advocate”. He wants to help you prepare for a meeting with his manager.
Kristen is the Accounting Department Manager. She contacts you because her current software provider’s capacity is ten users and their department has grown to 12 users. Kristen wants all of her users on one license for reporting. Any new solution she acquires must be able to import her current data files.
Your software is more expensive than Kristen’s current software provider. Kristen has done her research and is excited about using your software. She just needs to convince her executive of the value when switching. Since she will need to purchase an additional ten user license from her current provider, she will be paying for 20 users each month. Your pricing is per user. Your cost for 10 users is higher – your cost for 12 users is lower. Going into the sales call with a standard pitch would be wasted.
The Decision Maker
A food transportation manager has approved your new pallet heat sensors. The decision maker, Susan, is not ready to buy. She has never had a rejected or returned shipment. However, due to new FDA regulations, Susan will be required to use these sensors in two years. Susan says she will wait – besides the FDA always delays regulatory compliance.
How do you get Susan to act now? You know that three of her area competitors are already using your new sensors. Further, restaurants and grocers are starting to require the new sensors in their purchase orders’ Terms and Conditions. You meet with Susan and show that the she should shift now to remain competitive.
Susan has approved purchase of new heat sensors and a three-year service plan. You are asked to meet with Fred in purchasing. Fred does not want to know anything about your product. His main concern is the three-year service plan. Fred signed a contract for a similar plan with another vendor last year and the company took six weeks to replace a broken cooler. Fred received a lot of complaints. However, he is stuck in a three-year agreement with a big cancellation fee.
You explain to Fred that you supply a three-year warranty and five spare pallet heat sensors with the service plan. If an installed unit needs repair, he just needs to submit a Return Materials Authorization (RMA) number for the broken unit and take a spare one off the shelf. You will replace the spare a few weeks after receipt of the faulty unit.
Play to Your Audience
Before meeting with a new prospect, determine who they are and their role. What is their title? What piqued their interest in contacting you? How much time do they have to meet? And, finally, what would they like to have happen at the end of your meeting? When you get to the end of your meeting, STOP and discuss next steps. Do not continue your 45 minute presentation just because that is how you were trained. Your prospect will appreciate the consideration and you gain trust by reaching a goal with them. As impressive as your product might be, some POCs might have other interest along the path to buying.