Managing a strategic account is a complicated balancing act. Sometimes, you find yourself striving for short-term gains by upselling. But to achieve long-term success with a strategic account, the customer needs to view you as a trusted partner, which means you need to constantly set yourself apart from the competition by helping your customer achieve their long-term goals.
Strategic accounts are an important part of your company’s success. It costs as much as 25 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. When you lose a strategic account, you need to first evaluate if you want to win that account back. If so, you want to continue investing in the account—even if they’ve recently switched to a competitor. Here are five strategies that can help you win them back.
- Evaluate Your Performance
First, honestly assess your performance with the account. Sometimes, it’s easy to feel too secure in your position with a customer, especially if you’ve been working with them for years. Complacency can lead you to overlook the warning signs that your customer might leave for other suppliers. Also, consider recent changes with your customers. Were there any events in the news, such as mergers or acquisitions? Did your point of contact or coach mention any restructuring or reorganization that required them to consider other suppliers?
To combat complacency and stay connected to your strategic accounts, schedule regular 90-day reviews with your customers. Then, you stay ahead on any changes occurring at the company and ensure that you and your customers remain on the same page regarding long-term objectives and how your solution helps achieve them.
For accounts you’ve lost, you can conduct a similar internal review, based on information from your key relationships inside the customer’s organization. Take the time to analyze all the key factors in an account, including:
- Key players
- Field of Play
- Market conditions
- Buying influences
- Your value proposition
Understand how these fit together, where can you improve and where can you focus your energy to win back the account. To win them back, you’ll have to evaluate your customer-centric performance.
- Leverage Key Relationships
Once you’ve lost a strategic account, you need to rely heavily on the relationships you built with the key players inside the customer’s organization. Hopefully, this includes a coach or someone who proactively supports you. They can help you answer questions such as:
- How did your competitor win the deal?
- How long is your former customer contractually obligated to your competitor?
- How can you improve as a company to win back the lost account?
As you plan a course of action for winning back the customer, you need to identify the key players, buying influences and the valid business reason for each. As you develop your sales strategy, this helps you tailor messaging to the different stakeholders to show how your solution solves their challenges. Don’t forget that individuals make decisions, not organizations, so it’s important to maintain relationships with key players.
- Make Sure Your Value Proposition Is Mutually Beneficial
In CSO Insights’ 2018 Buyer Preferences Study, customers consistently say they want sales people to:
- Understand their business
- Demonstrate excellent communication skills
- Focus on post-sale
- Give relevant insights and perspectives
To be the seller your buyer wants, it’s essential that you revisit your value proposition. Even if you’ve lost a deal, you need to maintain a customer-centric perspective. You want your customer to see a mutual benefit from continuing to engage with you, especially if they’ve recently moved on from you. Look at your value proposition to ensure it delivers what your customer needs and addresses the unique pain points of each buying influence.
- Build Relationships with Buying Influences
Take the loss of a long-term account as an opportunity to build relationships with other buying influences, even those who may not be a key decision-maker. For example, after losing an account, a seller at Miller Heiman Group built a relationship with a buying influence lower in the org chart over a few years. The seller connected the contact to resources to help further his career. The company later promoted the contact, and in his new role he played a larger part in the decision-making process. Soon after, he brought Miller Heiman Group in to present solutions to his team.
By continuing to cultivate relationships with buying influences, you gain insights into a customer’s satisfaction with their current state or your competitors. In addition, you may learn how customer needs change based on new goals or organizational changes that introduce new buying influences. This information will allow you to change your value proposition to meet the customer’s changing needs and proactively identify and build relationships with new buying influences.
- Align Your Team
To succeed in today’s complex selling environment, you need to leverage your team, including customer success managers, sales engineers, field technicians and more. Chances are that you are not the only person with whom your customers communicate. Thus, the loss of a strategic account creates an opportunity to realign the roles of every member of your sales team. Make sure that everyone on your team shares the same goals and expects the same outcomes; your entire team should work together to achieve mutually-beneficial, customer-centric results with the key account you’re trying to win back.
As you reengage with your customer, everyone on your team becomes better equipped to offer perspectives that resonate with the individual buying influences. Plus, you’ll be able to apply these lessons to current and future customers to better serve them as well.
Though losing a strategic account can be disappointing , there are ways to plan your sales strategy to win back the account. You should:
- Evaluate your performance
- Leverage key relationships in the account
- Make your value proposition mutually-beneficial
- Build relationships with buying influences
- Align your team
If you’re concerned about losing a strategic account or need to reevaluate how your sales process aligns with your customer’s path, let Miller Heiman Group guide you. We’ll show you how our industry-leading approaches, including our Large Account Management Process, can help you win at strategic account management.
Contact us to see how Miller Heiman Group can help.