In this episode of Selling the Sandler Way, Dave Mattson, the President and CEO of Sandler Training explores the Sandler Selling Philosophies behind the Sandler Selling System with Rich Isaac, a Sandler Trainer.
Dave Mattson: In today’s program, we’re talking about territory management. And, if you think about it, what does that title mean? It means to manage your territory. And that means a couple of different things. The first thing you’ve got to do is analyze it, which means what? You’ve got to see what’s what within your territory. You’ve got to figure out what you’ve got there existing and what’s new, but you’ve got to go in with a magnifying glass and figure out—what does my patch look like?
The second thing that you’ve got to do is cultivate it, all right? So, once you analyze it, we’ve got to cultivate it. It is kind of simple. You’ve got to figure out how to grow what we currently have. And, equally, as important, you’ve got to figure out how to maintain what we currently have, okay? So, you’re nurturing those accounts to either stay with you, or you’re nurturing those accounts to grow with you. It’s simple, right? Salespeople have two functions in life. We’ve got to protect and hold what we have, and we’ve got to grow and plunder somebody else’s deals. Kind of simple.
So, the same thing in territory management. You’ve got to analyze it and see what’s what. You’ve got to cultivate it. And then, lastly, we’ve got to make sure that we manage our patch. We’ve got to make sure that we’re continually managing that process. And, you know what? This sounds easy. And it is if you do this all the time. Think about that for a second. It’s easy if you do it all the time. That holds true with most of the things in life.
You know, if we prospected all of the time, it would be easy. If we had good follow-up skills with our customers, it would be easy. We tend to—in today’s environment, with so many different things happening out there—we tend to be reactive. Well, territory management—the fact that we’re managing our patch—shouldn’t be a reactive process. It should be proactive. It should be both future and present. We should be doing it all the time.
And if you think about earlier in our careers, as an example, you know, we did the exact opposite, didn’t we? If you think about that, the territory actually managed us. We would run from one side of the territory to another. So, if it were, if you think about it, Monday morning, we would take appointments wherever we could get them versus when we were on that side of the town or on that side of our territory, we would never pod those appointments together.
We’d look like this—as I said, it’s Monday morning, we had an eight o’clock appointment on the northwest quadrant of our territory, assuming this was a drivable territory for a second. And then, we’d have another one somewhere down in the southwest part of our territory in the afternoon or late morning. And then, in the northeast, we would have one in the afternoon. And if we’re blowing and going and felt really good, we’d squeeze one more in that happened to be in the southeast.
So, we’ve, in essence, gone all the way across the state, across the town. I have talked to people who say, “You know what? Well, I do a lot of driving.” Now, in my mind, I’m thinking, “A lot of driving? How long is that, exactly?” And I’ll ask them. And they say, “Well, I’m doing 75,000 miles a year.” I’m thinking, “Wow. There’s got to be a better way.” Now, I’m not saying that they’re not managing their territory properly. But I’ll tell you, in today’s world, especially when we were new let’s say, we would just say, “Hey, when can you see us?” And we wouldn’t, necessarily, put them into any sort of strategy. We’d take them where we could.
We would rationalize this. Let me tell you how sick this is. That appointment that was eight o’clock in that northwest quadrant, we didn’t feel too bad about it because we’ve got up in the wee hours of the morning to drive there. And then, of course, we would be driving home, and our family was eating dinner. On that other one that’s in the northeast quadrant of our territory, towards the end of the day, we would have been driving to and from that one on no-pay time, which is technically correct. But it also allowed us not to focus on the real issues, okay?
You know, we also never paid attention to, in the old days, the frequency. So, we never podded the appointments, and we didn’t pay attention to the frequency of how often we called on our accounts. It didn’t really matter to us, in the beginning, whether they were medium size accounts, larger accounts, smaller accounts. Do we see some potential? The other area we had no idea about was what the growth potential was in those specific accounts. All we know is, “Hey, we’ve done X. We think there’s some potential there because they love us.” Or we sniff around, and we see that there’s some potential there. But we have never really done a true analysis of that specific account for growth.
So, that’s kind of the history as we grew up in sales if you think about it. And as we get better in our career and we get busier, and we get some experience behind us, we realized a couple of different things. One of the things that we realized is that you really have to focus to maximize your sales efforts. That’s so true, isn’t it? So, the first thing we need to do is focus our efforts. And you’ve got to be proactive. By focusing our efforts, we’ve got to start weighing every decision that we make in our territory.
Where do I want to spend my financial resources? Where do I want to spend my time? Where do I want to spend getting my IOUs from customers and IOUs internally for doing things above and beyond? Because there’s only so many IOUs, as an example, that you have in your database. So, there’s a lot of different things that you have to make sure that you focus your efforts on. We’ve all been there, right? There’s only so many times that they say you can go to the well. So, maximize your sales efforts, focus, be proactive.
The second thing that we had to do, which of course is so important, is that you need a growth plan. We know, as we get more and more experienced, that you need a growth plan for the territory, yes, but within the territory. What’s the territory made up of? The territory is made up of either dozens or hundreds or thousands of accounts. So, you need a growth plan for the account and a growth plan for the territory. Super important.
Think about how naïve we were when we first started in sales. And we said, “You know what? We’re doing a good job for this specific client. We’re doing an awesome job. And so, therefore …” And our mind would jump, right? Cause and effect—”Therefore, they will give me tons of new business.” How untrue is that? We hope that’s true, but you’ve got to make sure that you have that plan, and that you’ve got to make sure that you nurture that.
It’s kind of like growing corn thinking, “Yeah, it’s there. I’ve planted it, so, therefore, it will grow.” No. You’ve got to water it, you’ve got to weed it, you’ve got to make sure that the pesticides don’t get there. There’s a ton of stuff that you have to do. But to do that, you’ve got to have a plan.
Remember back into the goal-setting program with Sandler. Sandler either says, “You’ve got to have a plan of your own, or you’re going to be part of somebody else’s plan.” The same thing holds true when we’re talking about growth plans—again, of accounts and territories.
The third thing we figured out as we’ve gotten more and more experienced is that the frequency of the calls on our customers had an impact on the growth. Remember that phrase, “Out of sight, out of mind.” It’s true. You have to call on your customers and have what we call “mind share.” You had to touch them. It didn’t, necessarily, have to be face-to-face. But you had to have strategies and tactics, of which we teach tons of them in our President’s Clubs around the world, on how to make your customer feel appreciated and make sure that they know you’re there.
And again, it doesn’t have to be face-to-face. But don’t be shocked when you call into your customer every six months to a year to find out that on their desk, they have a coffee cup of your competitor, or you see somebody using a competitive product. You can’t get mad at your customer. You’ve got to get mad at yourself. Listen, you’ve got to pay attention. Remember the two goals in life for a salesperson are to protect and grow, and the other one is to plunder.
So, the thought process is very simple. Your customer is somebody else’s prospect. You’ve got to pay attention. You’ve got to make sure that you have secured the boundaries of your customer.
Here’s the other thing that we learned. You need to handle growth accounts differently than maintenance accounts. That is so true. Think about that. Now, most of us are saying, “What is the difference between a growth account and a maintenance account?” Well, it’s clear as you start to analyze. Rich Isaac helps us understand today, who is as I said a top trainer, that when you have a growth account, that means there’s a huge opportunity for you to expand the presence of your products and services within a customer. It’s key. And you should know what that is, and you should have a plan to get there. But there is that opportunity.
A maintenance account means that you’ve gotten as much business as you think you’re possibly going to get. Now, that has no bearing on whether a competitor has the lion’s share. It could be as simple is, they’re spending a million dollars within your space, and you have the million dollars. It could be that easy. So today, we’re going to put a lot of these items together so we can spend a lot less time spinning our wheels in the field. And that’s the key. The greatest asset that you have as a professional salesperson and manager is time.
So, we’re going to talk today about classifying our accounts. What are these accounts within my territory? Are they growth? Are they maintenance? Overall, what’s the percentage of growth versus maintenance accounts in my territory so I can manage it properly? Because again, what we’re going to find out is that the call cycle for these types of clients is different. How do we manage the territory and manage the accounts within our territory? You know, as a salesperson, I’ve been selling for many, many years. If I were listening to all those things that I said like, “Hey, you’ve got to do X to manage your territory,” one of the things that I would be saying is, “Oh my gosh. I don’t have enough time. When am I going to find the time to get that done?”
And that may be true up front, but let me share with you what I’ve seen over many, many years. If you do a great job managing your territory, you actually will gain time. And that’s really what we’re going to talk about because it sounds counterintuitive. But you’ll have more time because you’re spending the proper amount of time doing the proper things within your territory to grow. And whether you’re on commission or not commission, we all are judged every single month, every single year, by what we produce. And that’s really what we’re talking about.
As I said earlier, we’re very happy to have Rich Isaac join us today, talking about this thing called territory management. Hey, Rich, welcome to the program.
Rich Isaac: Dave, it’s great to be here. Thanks.
Dave Mattson: You know, Rich, one of the things that we’re talking about seems intuitive, doesn’t it? “Hey, you’ve got to manage your territory.” But, a lot of people don’t manage the territory, as we discussed. I think that lots of times, they’re reactive. What are your feelings?
Rich Isaac: Yeah. No doubt about it. I think that the predominant reason that’s the case is because people have a tendency to be busy. As John Wooden said, “Let’s not confuse activity with achievement.” And there’s so many things going on, so many messages coming to us from so many different directions, internal to our company and external, that we have a tendency to keep ourselves doing a lot of tactical things.
One of the things that I love about the Sandler selling method is the … Sure, we have some great tactics and techniques for selling, but the other perspective on it is the strategic view of things. And when you think about territory management, managing that territory that you’re personally responsible for, we really need to be stepping away from the pure tactical and into the strategic thinking. We need to step back away from the noise, away from the business, so that we can get a grip on what’s going on. And it really does take a different way of thinking, sort of a step back like, “Wait, let’s figure out what’s going on here.” And the noise of the day makes it very difficult for people to do that.
Dave Mattson: I think that’s true. I think they tend to be reactive a lot of times. If you’re talking about a proactive view, a strategic view of the territory of my patch, it’s almost like automation. You know, I can pump out a lot of different widgets if I’m automated versus one at a time where I can’t maximize my efforts. And that’s the strategic view of your territory.
And why is it though? As salespeople, we intuitively know this. I think a lot of times our managers even cause us to jump from situation A to situation B. Although they say, “Hey, let’s do a territory plan every year,” they tend not even to maybe believe it themselves or help us utilize that. And I guess the second part of the question, Rich, is even if they don’t, it’s really our responsibility as salespeople to do this on our own, isn’t it?
Rich Isaac: Interestingly enough, I think that that’s one of the signals that we might be getting if we are from a large organization and we do have a lot of managers. That person has goals to meet, revenue targets to hit, and so on. That may be among the biggest source of our distraction, not to take anything away from that person’s role. So, I agree. It is our responsibility to step back.
Just a quick thought about territory management, in general. I think the term, itself, is clearly understood by the people who are in larger companies that quite literally have a physical geographic, typically, territory that they manage. But the same principles apply if you’re a small business owner and your territory happens to be where you live. You do business locally, so your territory management plan is simply your business plan, regarding how things all fit together.
Let me just comment on a couple of things you said. I think that because of that idea, “Let’s go after the largest opportunity, the quickest opportunity, the person that’s screaming the loudest,” it’s natural for us to get into that tactical mode. When we talk about territory management and strategic planning of your account, let’s take it first on a very small scale.
Every key account needs to have, ideally, a strategic plan. How are we going to grow this account? As you mentioned before, is this an account that can be grown, or have we pretty much maximized it? Is this an account that we haven’t done any business in, but because of who they are and certain criteria that they meet, we want to turn them into an account or turn them into a larger account? That’s a strategic account plan.
Now, what is a territory plan? In a way, it’s a series of strategic account plans. Let’s take a look at all of our different accounts, all of our different types of accounts, and figure out how it adds up to meet our overall goal. It is a strategic way of thinking because we have to really take a big step back.
One of the best analogies that I think we use within Sandler, in terms of analyzing this, is a hunting analogy. We say, let’s assume that you had to eat. And one thing you could do is go out and shoot a squirrel. Well, there’s quite of a few of them out there, but boy, you have to shoot a lot of squirrels to get much of a meal. And unfortunately, they don’t even taste very good. Versus, on the other hand, you could go out elephant hunting. The problem with that is you need some really large guns. There’s not very many elephants around; you may never get one. But if you do, boy, it’s hard to swallow all that food.
And then there’s the other one in between, which you might consider deer. Boy, you can … If you were a deer hunter, you could bag one of those and be able to eat for a week. It sort of seems to be that real optimal place to play. The question in your territory is, what is it made up of? Is it made up of smaller accounts that you have to get a whole bunch of to meet your goal? Is it made up of medium size accounts—call them deer—that you need a reasonable number of to be able to meet your goal? Is it, on the other hand, based on a handful of … a couple of elephants? And the problem with those, of course as we mentioned, if you lose one of those, it really hurts your business.
Analyzing your business from that perspective to figure out how it will all add up is a very strategic way of thinking, versus how many of us have found ourselves in a situation where somebody screams loudly, but if we were to step back and analyze where they fit into our overall plan … You know, they were a small-time player, and not that we don’t want to service them, but we have to ask ourselves, “Will it allow us to meet our goals?”
Dave Mattson: Well, I think … Yeah, to your point, if you read any of the studies out there, it’ll tell you that the bottom X percentage of your client base typically takes up the lion’s share of your customer service time. Many years ago, there was a telecom company who did that study. And they actually fired the last 15% of their client base and happily gave them referrals to their competitors. And they’re both well-known carriers. And it freed up a ton of time. So, you know, to that point, I think that’s a good thing to do.
But if you go back to your original statement, I do think that’s true. I think that the territory is a series of account plans, a strategic plan. And it’s much like … Though Rich, in our personal lives, you’ve got budgets for cars, insurance, and for dinners and food and clothing and all of that stuff. And it rolls up to your household budget. That household budget analogy is the territory management plan of all these little things that we’re supposed to be doing for each account.
Rich Isaac: You said that it’s supposed to add up to what we’re looking to accomplish. I do want to add though, that the tendency whenever we say the word “strategic,” “strategic plan” or “territory plan”—when we view it from that perspective, I think there’s a tendency for some people’s eyes to sort of glaze over and say, “Boy, I don’t know. That sounds too complicated.” And I think the opposite, I think you mentioned this before, is really what we’re looking for.
Any kind of a plan that you’re putting in place like this, ideally, is going to be really quite straightforward. It can literally, as it relates to a particular account, fit on a page. As it relates to your territory, it can fit on a handful of pages. If you make it too complicated, I think, then it becomes unwieldy. And it’s almost, more than anything else, about taking time to think about it, to ask yourself the right questions: What is my territory made up of, and how am I going to grow it?
I look forward to spending a little bit more time talking about the issue of growth versus maintenance account, and how you might be able to deal differently with this. I’d like to add some comments about that a little bit later. I think that’s really important.
Dave Mattson: No, I do too. And I think that you know, to your point, it should be very simple. You know, we worked with an organization that provided lenses in the marketplace. And I can remember they shut that company down for almost four and a half months to create a call cycle. And it was counterproductive because the call cycle became a death march, a routine, versus the strategic view of, “I’ve got a certain amount of time every day. Here’s my patch, what should I be doing to grow? How do I touch my client base? How do I maximize my mind share with each of my customers?” And that’s the real takeaway of this thing.
Rich Isaac: You bet. And what you also mentioned earlier was a differentiation between that part of our job as salespeople where we’re both prospecting for a new business and looking to grow our existing accounts. That analysis alone can be very important. One statistic that I’ve seen several times, and I’ve actually done it with several of our clients here, is a very quick, subjective study that says, “How much could your business grow simply by increasing the business that you’re doing with your existing clients?” based on the products and services that they are buying versus could be buying. And on average we find that most people in their territories can potentially double their business without ever finding a new client.
That isn’t to say that we should minimize the role of bringing in new clients as well, but just that analysis alone can really help you free up your time frame in figuring out, “Where do I spend more of my time: on maintenance and growth, or on brand new prospecting?” And it can open your eyes. As opposed to, “You know what, I have to get back on the phone to call somebody new.” There might be somebody right there who can do a lot more business with you and/or give you a lot more referrals.
Isn’t that amazing? And I think intuitively if we sat back and thought about our own client base, that probably holds true across the board for most of the people listening to the program. And yet, when you hear “account development” or “prospecting,” we immediately think about having to call people we don’t know, start a relationship, put our hand through the meat grinder, and all the things that we envision when it comes to outbound calls, when, in reality, we could be having new conversations with existing customers.
To your point, that’s not the end all. But there’s an awful lot of business there that we’re not cultivating. We spend so much time trying to get the business rich and then all of a sudden, what do we do? We hand it off to somebody else, or we’re in service mode, and we forget that we have to continually water that field.
Dave Mattson: Absolutely. And interestingly enough, when you think about that territory, you should focus not only the clients that can do more business. There are ways in which you can analyze the different resources, the different alliances, the different networking opportunities within that territory that can create leverage to easily open up new opportunities for you again, as opposed to some of the brute force stuff that we have a tendency to do because we can’t think of what else to do, right?
We’re joined by Rich Isaac, who is helping us get our hands around this thing called territory management, which, as we know just from our first two segments, is really so much more than just looking at our territory, seeing what’s going on, seeing where you should spend tomorrow. There’s so much more to it.
And right before our last break, we were talking about the beginning of a thing called wallet share or wallet sizing. And so, Rich, I’m curious—how much time should we spend on that? Is it something that we should be doing all the time, continually paying attention to it so we could figure out how to operate within our account or territory?
Rich Isaac: Yeah, you bet. Let me give you an analogy of how important it is and why we do need to spend some significant time on it. One of our clients that we work with is a market research company. We’ve been doing sales and sales management training with them for a long time. In their particular world, they sell information about what’s happening in the marketplace and different industries to their clients.
What’s interesting is—let’s assume one of their clients is a manufacturer of electronic components or electronic devices. And they know their own sales, of course, they do. They know that their sales went from $5 million to $10 million over the last couple of years. They know that because they sell their products and they keep their books.
What they need to know is not that they’ve grown from $5 million to $10 million—that’s important—but what’s happening in the market. As it turns out, the market around them has quadrupled, and their sales have only doubled. Guess what? They’re losing ground. And they wouldn’t even know it if they weren’t aware of market share. On the other hand, if the market is flat and they’ve actually doubled, then they know they’re doing great.
So, not being able to compare how you’re doing against the share of what’s happening in the marketplace will completely change your perspective, or cause you not to have a good understanding of what’s really happening without that information. The same thing applies with what Dave’s referring to. What you’re referring to, Dave, is wallet share, which is … Let’s assume I have an account. And I’m currently selling them $500,000 worth of products or services. Well, that’s nice. The question is, how much are they buying overall? How much is that shifting? How much of a share of the market do you have versus your competitors?
And when you start adding those up, sort of area by area, client by client, company by company, then you’re taking a look at the overall share that you might have in your territory.
So, for you to go about, or any salesperson to go about, just making their sales and keeping track, whether the sales look like they’re up or they’re looking down, is really out of context. You don’t really know how you’re doing at all unless you’re equally spending time figuring out, “What does my competitive situation look like? How much business is happening with my competitors?” And it’ll completely change your approach to who you’re dealing with.
As you mentioned before as well, Dave, if it turns out that somebody is buying a $1 million worth of stuff, and that’s all they’re buying, and you have 80% share of it, well, you’re clearly going to be in a different place than if you know that they’re buying $2 million worth of stuff and you only have $500,000 of it. There’s an enormous amount of pent-up demand right there if you have the ability to go in and have the right conversation.
So, it is really important because otherwise, you’re really shooting blind. This is a company that might not be aware of market share.
Dave Mattson: You know, I think two things change based on what I just heard you say. One is mind set. And it also goes back to the original study that you had just said that what you’ve done is you’ve read, and you did it informally. You ask your customer base, “How much more could you grow your business with the existing clients that you have?” And they always say, “Well, oh my gosh. I guess we could double it,” after they’ve done some investigations.
Well, that right there tells you that they probably never paid attention to what that wallet sizing was—that wallet share within their existing territory, existing customers. And once you know that, Rich, and you’ve seen this dozens of times, my whole, I guess, mindset changes towards my customer. Because now I’ve got relevance compared to my competitor; I know where I’m standing. I can choose to step it up, do a ton of different things, and rally the troops because we’ve got to go after these specific accounts who are our customers to get more of that share of business versus anything else. That’s a wakeup call, lots of times when you figure this stuff out.
Rich Isaac: You bet. And you’re mentioning about mind share. What’s really fascinating is how it will put you into a different way of thinking about an account. We love these analogies. We used a hunting analogy a minute ago. Now, I’m going to use a military analogy, which says, “Let’s ask yourself. Are we in a position …” Let’s go back to the maintenance issue. If we have an account where we pretty much can determine through some of our tactics of asking a lot of questions, building rapport, building relationships, having alliances to gather the information we need within an account, and all the types of things people learn in President’s Club—if you have that information, what will you then do with it?
Well, if you determine you pretty much maxed out doing everything you can, then you’re going to be clearly in the mode of making sure you’re constantly stepping up the value ladder, as we call it, to be perceived as a more and more strategic advisor. So, you’ll never go away. You might be doing more services over time. Perhaps you’ve maxed out your product sales, but there’s a proactive maintenance model to keep yourself in that high market share and selling.
On the other hand, if you determine … In that regard, by the way, with the military analogy, you’re sort of in a defensive posture. You want to do everything you can to keep the other folks out. You’ve taken this territory, as it were, and it’s your job to keep other folks out.
On the other hand, if it turns out that you realize there’s a whole bunch of land that you haven’t captured, a whole bunch of opportunities you don’t have access to, then the question is, “Do you have the foothold? Have you created the beachhead, as they call it in the military analogy? Have you landed there to such a point that you have enough relationships and enough information that you can launch a proactive, offensive account and attempt to grow that business?”
So, you’ll notice how that information will completely change your thinking and ultimately, your activity as it relates to that account.
Dave Mattson: You know, all this is, I guess, hindering on the fact that you can get this information. Because it doesn’t just pop up, right? You don’t sign into one of your clients and say, “Hey, here’s how much we’re spending,” or “Here’s the mindset that you should be going into the account with.” How do you—and we’ve skipped over this every single time we talked about it—how do you determine wallet share? How do you figure that out? Is there a way to do it, or is it that you continually talk to people, grow relationships, ask some questions, and over time, you build a little informational database? How does it work in the real world?
Rich Isaac: Well, I think it’s a combination of both. I think the vast majority of folks because they’re not thinking about it, are not even considering asking the questions. One of the things that we often note in our strategic account planning models is questioning techniques.
Dave Mattson: You know, Rich, by the way, it is so true. Is it not? I mean, just for one second, I don’t mean to cut you off, but that is so true. You mean they don’t think about it, so, therefore, they don’t ask. People who don’t ask will never think that people will answer the question. But they don’t know. But the fact is, if you ask, lots of times, they’ll answer.
Rich Isaac: Yeah, you bet. And what’s so interesting is because … What’s the term? They’re sort of “unconsciously incompetent.” They don’t know what they don’t know, as it were. And I think that’s fairly … Again, that’s fairly common when we’re so busy doing what we’re doing; we don’t have a tendency to step back and think about these things. And when we do this sort of account strategy, one of the first things we simply ask ourselves is, “What information do we have versus not have? What do we know versus not know? Do we really understand the organizational chart within this company, or don’t we?” And most people, of course, feel that if they don’t know the answer, or if the answer’s going to be, “No, I don’t know,” they’re very uncomfortable with that, very afraid of that.
Our belief is that that’s a great answer because it creates an understanding that there is a gap. And therefore, some of the action steps you’re taking are not to go and try to sell anybody anything because you don’t have enough information to do it. But on the contrary, just use the action step of, “Let’s go gather information. Let’s go figure out what questions we need to ask. Let’s go figure out who we would want to ask those questions of. Let’s go figure out if we have the relationships within which we can even ask those questions.” And it might mean that we have to build the relationships first.
So, it might require some real effort to take our time step by step, but boy, that effort is worthwhile in the long run.
Dave Mattson: I think it is. And I think the thing that you’re stressing is a process; it’s not an event. You know, today’s not “go find wallet share” day.
Rich Isaac: Right.
Dave Mattson: It’s something that we do over a period of time and to continually upgrade our account knowledge. And there’s always push back. And I’ll jump topics within the theme—there’s always pushback on CRM products, you know, like, “Oh, my gosh, these things slow us down. There’s no value in it.” But all that we’re talking about is figuring out where we are, what we know. And the gap could be one of the best uses of your CRM tool, whatever you’re using, to house that information so other people on the account also can add to that.
Because, Rich, if you and I were working together, and you were sales, and I was service, from all the conversations that I have when I’m in the delivery mode, I may find out tons of information that could help you as a salesperson. And I think that’s the other thing that we forget—that there are other people that touch your account that have access to information that you may never have access to.
Rich Isaac: You bet. And it would be great if you were to put out to this team, whether it’s a formal or informal team servicing this account or managing this account, to say, “By the way, we realize that one of our key areas for knowledge improvement is in market shares and wallet share within this account. So, what we’re going to ask everybody to do is keep your eyes open for this information. If you happen to have some contacts in these different areas, please ask some questions.”
As opposed to—that other person doesn’t know what you’re looking for, but if you have asked the question internally and posed it to your team, then together you can work to gather that information.
Dave Mattson: That’s so true. Now, earlier … So, I understand now; we have wallet share, which is basically how much they are spending in my space, how much I am getting, how much my competitors are getting. And then I’m going to go through all the things which you just said, which would be, “What do I know? What don’t I know?” And then, whatever that gap is, create a strategy to go get that information. And that could take a year; it could take six months; it could take six weeks. But the point is-
Rich Isaac: It could take one quick phone call.
Dave Mattson: It could be over dinner, right? Depending on the relationship and the size of the company.
Rich Isaac: Yeah.
Dave Mattson: You know, we’re not talking about the Fortune 50, here.
Rich Isaac: That’s true.
Dave Mattson: You know, one of the things that we wanted to talk about earlier, and I guess I’ll ask you now, is: Do you have a couple of minutes to stay with us to the next segment for a couple of minutes of that? Because I know you’re jumping to an executive coaching session. Let’s talk about the maintenance account versus growth account. Because once we understand where we are, we’ve got a snapshot of reality and we know what the future looks like … What is the difference between those two? And what can we do to leverage those different types of accounts?
Rich Isaac: Great. I’d be happy to help you with that.
Dave Mattson: Great, just give us a couple of things. We’ve got about a minute before our break. Just give us a jewel that we may be able to run with before our next break.
Rich Isaac: You know, it’s interesting. When we’re dealing in the prospecting world, and the maintenance of the counter world and most salespeople have to do a little bit of both—grow existing accounts and bring in new ones—the question is, when does an account go from the prospect to the account? The fact is, does that mean if they spend five bucks with you, they’re all of a sudden an account? It’s really a continuum.
Dave Mattson: One of the things that we want to make sure that we get, Rich, is insights on the differences between maintenance accounts and growth accounts. And equally as important, because I know we think about it strategically, are there some tactics and strategies that we may be able to implement on each one of these that would help us become better at maintaining and better at growing?
So, Rich, right before you said, “Hey, when does it become a customer?” Right? And that was just a whole mind shift I’m sure for a lot of people. Because I think the easy answer was, “Well, the minute they give you a dollar, they’re a customer, aren’t they?”
Rich Isaac: Yeah. You’d think it was that easy. You’d think it was that easy. But unfortunately, especially if we’re in a mode with an organization that has a tendency to hand things off to other people, typically the salesperson who opened it is often among the best to continue to grow that account, not that we don’t have other people who are involved with that as well. So, if it turns out that they start with something small, they’re barely an account and the opportunity to grow it is going to be, perhaps, even more, important than that initial order.
But let’s talk about some balance acts that we have to deal with between growth and maintenance. I think one of the natural tendencies is that when we do have accounts that we manage, we get ourselves caught in them. They call us a lot; we manage those accounts, we try to grow those relationships. But notice the name differences—maintenance versus growth.
If we spend most of our time there, we are very unlikely to be able to hit our targets, to hit our growth goals, which are going to predominately come from those existing accounts that can really grow and from brand new accounts. So, it’s easy to get sucked into that. So, we know there’s a fine balance.
On the other hand, there’s a particular aspect of both existing accounts that we pretty much have wrapped up, and accounts that have a lot of growth opportunity. And that is, in both cases, we’re trying to constantly be moving up the steps, further and further up, away from some kind of a vendor status or a commoditized “let’s get some products and services into this environment” to that trusted advisor, to the person who they will look to turn to more and more often for advice around their business.
And the more we can be moving up in that continuum, (1) the more the maintenance accounts will stay around. And (2), very importantly, it dovetails into our growth strategies because they give us more and more introductions and referrals to other accounts that potentially aren’t competitors of theirs, but other people that can benefit as much as they could and want to. And they would want to introduce you to them.
Dave Mattson: So, should you have a … You look at a gap. You talked about gaps before about what we know about the account and what we don’t know about the account. What about in this particular situation when we’ve got an advisor-type situation versus a vendor-type situation? We could actually look at our existing accounts, could we not, Rich? And then say, “All right, where are we in each of these? And by the way, the team ate one account.”
You could have different views of people. As an example, if I have three or four people in my buying network for Company A. Some may view me as an advisor, and some may view me as a vendor. So, I need to make sure that I do this from an individual standpoint within an account, not just a wide swept broad brush statement, right?
Rich Isaac: Yeah, you bet. What you just mentioned, I think, has probably opened some eyes right there, in that most people don’t think about that either. Just ask that question: “Where am I on this spectrum, on the low end as a vendor versus this person, and overall this firm, versus being a trusted advisor?” And recognize, it’s sort of a chicken and the egg situation. Do you sell more products and services, which moves you up those steps? Or do you move up those steps through relationship building and understanding the business and that’s what sells more product? The answer, of course, is “Yes, both.” You need to sort of work at it from both directions.
Back to your point about the individuals. Our perspective is—and this is where we’re navigating into taking that territory management and moving to the account management and now moving to the individuals. Where it’s still strategic, though, is looking at the big picture, the lay of the land, and looking at each individual that we’re dealing with and asking ourselves, “How powerful are they in decision making in this organization? How influential are they in making decisions?”
And they might be different. Somebody might have a lot of power to make decisions, but might not really be involved with an upper influential in your product and service. And others might be the opposite. They might not have a lot of power, but they’re a key engineer, for example, and so their technical knowledge is something that could influence the sale.
But the other big factor is what we call advocacy. How do they feel about you and your organization? If they love you, that’s great. If they hate you, that could be a problem. But of course, it’s always going to depend on their level of power and influence as well.
So, just that quick matrix or analysis overall by individuals and then adding it up to see how it comes out for the company can be a really important aspect of knowing where the gaps are and growing your business with those folks.
Dave Mattson: And I think we need to spend some time on that, if we’re professional salespeople, to really identify that. You said something earlier on, which I want to circle back to because I think we went over it quick. Because we do this all the time which is, how much time do you actually spend on a growth account versus a maintenance account? It’s so easy to get sucked up into that maintenance account.
So, we’ve talked about, Rich, in the past, cookbooks and recipes for success. You really should, using those terms, have a cookbook for how much time you’re going to be spending in your territory, on growth accounts versus maintenance accounts, to make sure that there’s a balance that matches your needs out of that territory.
Rich Isaac: That, and that alone—thinking about that analysis, figuring how much time I want to spend, how many calls I want to make, how many visits I want to make, and dividing them into those different types of accounts. And I actually can think in terms of three: maintenance accounts, the ones where you’re fairly fully penetrated in, probably can’t grow the business all that much; growth accounts that you’re doing some business in, but clearly have opportunities; and of course, there’s the other piece, which is brand new pieces of business, accounts that you’re not doing business with.
So, in your cookbook, in your accountability system for tracking what you’re doing, ideally we recommend that you break it into calls to existing accounts that are maintenance accounts, calls and visits to the growth accounts, and of course, very importantly—this is the one that often falls off the table because we’re busy with the other things and it’s uncomfortable for a lot of people—is reaching out and doing the prospecting activity for brand new accounts.
Overall, two things come to mind. It’s a little bit counterintuitive. Do you spend more time on the growth accounts and the prospects, or on the maintenance accounts? And the interesting thing is, of course, you need to allocate time there. But sometimes building your relationships with these existing accounts, who know you and love you, can be the greatest leverage time to be able to grow those new pieces of business, to get referred into those pieces of business, to become highly … To get referred at a high level and highly recommended. As David Sandler said, “Service your accounts a high percentage of your time, and it’ll lead you to more business easily.” But there is that very fine line we need to be walking so we don’t lose sight of either.
Dave Mattson: You know, Rich, I think that is absolutely spot on. And we’ve got to make sure … And think about this, in most of the industries that we call on where you’ve done a lot of business, think about the people that you’ve serviced that you have as your advocates who leave that organization to go to a different organization and become a new buyer for you in a different company. They’ve pulled you along because of all the good things that you did at this existing company.
So, those were awesome thoughts. And Rich, I know you’re running to an executive briefing session for executives, so I wanted to say, hey, thanks for joining us, today. You’ve given us tons of stuff. I think I’ve written down about 18 good ideas that you’ve shared with the group. So, I appreciate you coming on.
Rich Isaac: Thanks, Dave. I appreciate it. I was glad to be here.
Dave Mattson: Rich is going to do an executive coaching session. This guy is awesome at what he does. And he gave us a lot of jewels that we could take to each one of our territories and our accounts. And if you think about it, territory management, strategic thinking, it’s a way of life. And it’s just not a program that you go through to save time. I mean, yes it will. It’ll save you time, and it’ll save you energy. But really, it’s much more than that.
It’s really helping you maximize your account potential in the time and space that you have. So, within … I didn’t say territory; I said account potential. And that’s really what it is. Because your territory is made up of tons of accounts or two accounts. But your space is what you had, and Rich was right when he said, “Hey, this doesn’t mean for the Fortune 50. You could have a state; you could have a town, you could have a zip code or just a region.” So, this is applicable everywhere.
You’re going to have to look at all the issues that we’ve talked about in today’s discussion. You know, hey, what’s the classification of account? What’s the wallet share? Is it a maintenance or is it a growth account? And you’ve got to make sure where you’re going to spend your time.
And because this thing called territory management’s a catchphrase … I mean, it means so much more than that. And you could spend—as I told you about this lens company, you could shut down the company for six months to figure out what the call cycle was. And then it became an absolute death march. So that’s not what we’re suggesting.
So, don’t spend a lot of time paralyzed, trying to get your hands around this thing. The bottom line is, hey, just start it, all right? You can have conversations with your customers, as you do today, to get all the information that you need to add additional information. As Rich said, “Hey, what do I know? What don’t I know?” And then attack that gap with just total conviction and focus, and you’ll get those answers.
And the last item that I wanted to add to the mix, which Rich did, is adding new accounts. So, you’ve got maintenance accounts, you’ve got growth accounts, and now you’ve got new accounts. And this process takes tons of time and focus, especially if you’re going to do it successfully. And if it is successful, that means now you’ve started a sales process within that particular territory, whether it’s the account or that territory.
So, there’s a ton of things to do. You’re juggling. Think about all the balls that you’re juggling, right? We’re doing all this stuff for corporate that they’re asking, we’re reacting to fires that are out there, we’re managing those existing accounts, we’re growing accounts, we’re finding new accounts. It sounds like there’s just a ton of work. And there is.
And I have to tell you, the majority of salespeople that we talk to, and we train millions of them around the world, they’ll tell you that they’re working harder today than they’ve ever worked in their life. And I believe that to be true. And what we’re going to suggest is just, “Hey, we’re not saying we’re going to cut your work load down by 50%. That’s not true. But what we will do is that we’ll help you work smarter. And we’re going to help you work sharper because when you’re in there and working effectively and efficiently in your territory, you can get more gold out of the mines that you’re currently digging.” And that’s the goal.
So, you’ve got to systematically go after that. And by knowing what your wallet share is and what your competitors are doing, that’ll help you to say, “Hey, I’ve got to do X, Y, and Z. I’ve got to go get that.” And even when your company says, “Hey, go cross-sell—well, by doing a wallet share, by understanding whether it’s a growth or maintenance account, you can know, you should know, is this an opportunity for me to cross-sell?
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