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The 3 'R's of Building Service Opportunities in Existing Accounts

Every business owner knows that it's easier to sell additional services to a current customer than to acquire a new one. But when your consultants visited client sites every month, it was easier to follow the business' growth and proactively identify needs. Now that cloud solutions and remotely delivered services minimize face-to-face contact, partners need to take a more formal approach to account management.

With nearly a decade of experience managing customer accounts, Nadia Isata, customer sales manager at BroadPoint Technologies, believes that following the three "R"s -- clearly defining roles, doing your research and building C-level relationships -- provides the foundation for a successful existing customer sales program.

Clearly Defined Roles
The job titles, as well as where the position fits in the org chart, for existing client account managers vary across the channel. Whether it's an account manager reporting to sales or a client service specialist reporting to consulting, the critical piece is in defining the job's responsibilities both internally and externally.

"It is imperative that the entire team understands the responsibilities of the account manager," Isata explained. "Account management is much more than just collecting license renewals. The goal is to build a position that will serve as a trusted advisor role for the client. Differentiating the role from the consulting staff is critical."

By introducing and defining the account management role early in the sales cycle, customers will understand how they will work with you once the initial project is complete. The account manager can be positioned as the client's primary point of contact to simplify their experience with your team. Setting expectations of a long-term relationship that involves more than just the collection of license fees sets the stage for more services.

Do the Research
As with any sales role, it takes initiative to be a great account manager. "Often times, we are pigeonholed as renewal collectors," Isata tells account managers. "It's up to you to research the client base. Take the time to research their industries and their specific business. It's critical that you understand their challenges and how you can assist them."

Doing research includes staying up-to-date on the solutions that your company offers. As opposed to sales reps who may specialize in a solution, account managers need to have a working knowledge of all the solutions and their business use cases. Investment in the education of account managers will pay off in uncovering larger service opportunities.

Research also allows you to prioritize accounts to determine how much time and energy you should spend. Rank and categorize accounts in line with the revenue potential. In Isata's case, "Each one of my assigned clients gets at least an annual review visit. For larger clients, we may meet quarterly to check in on the roadmap that we developed in the annual meeting."

Build C-Level Relationships
Another piece of advice that Isata offers account managers is to "get out of your comfort zone." To earn a position of trusted advisor for clients, account managers need to move up in the organization. While the entry point for most account managers may be users or the accounting team, executives are the ones who are making the strategic decisions.

"Make your way to the top of the food chain," Isata said. "Schedule time to review the account to make sure that you include the executive. You can bring a consultant from your team to dig into details, but you need to get in front of the C-levels. As long as you understand the value you want to deliver, you can be confident building those relationships.

So Much More than Renewals
As partners look to expand service revenue opportunities, existing customers should be at the top of the list. An effective account manager who is focused on cultivating deeper relationships with clients will uncover more service opportunities and build your value to the client. To ensure that your account manager succeeds, clearly define responsibilities and fill the role with someone who has the initiative to do research and build C-level relationships. 

How are you selling more services to your existing clients? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on August 06, 2014


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