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Effective Account Management

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Congratulations! You successfully sold one or more of your company's products or services to a business unit, department, or division of a large organization. Now your manager has tasked you with "account management". If you are not already familiar with account management, you are probably asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is "Account Management"?
  • What skills and talents are required to excel in Account Management?
  • What activities must be performed to maximize Account Management ROI?
Providing answers to these questions is the focus of this article.

What is Account Management?

Account management is actually a synonym for account penetration. Just because you have sold one product or service to one business entity within an organization doesn't mean your job is done. Think of all the additional opportunities that may exist in the account! For example:

  • Does your company offer additional products or services that might be a "fit" for this customer?
  • How many other business units, departments, divisions, and subsidiaries are potential prospects for your company's offering(s)?
Required Skills and Talents

A critical talent for successful account management is the ability to build relationships, as relationship selling is a very effective way to increase account penetration. Another critical skill/talent is organization. If you are going to manage large accounts effectively, you need to be willing and able to keep meticulous records.

What kinds of records do you need to keep? Picture a large, three-dimensional spreadsheet in your mind. In the left-hand column is a list of every product and service that you could possibly sell to a customer. Across the top of the spreadsheet are all of the business units, departments, divisions, and other business entities that make up your account's entire organization. Behind each business entity is every contact you know within that business entity.

Armed with this mental picture, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which business entities are you doing business with?
  • Which business entities are you not doing business with?
  • Where are the various business entities located?
  • Which products and services does each business entity already purchase from you?
  • Which products and services are they not purchasing from you?
  • Who do you know in each business entity?
  • Which of these contacts have you already asked for referrals and testimonials?
  • What referrals and testimonials have they given you?
Required Activities

Hopefully your organization has some type of CRM (Client Relationship Management) software application to help you keep track of your answers to these questions. If you don't have access to a corporate CRM system, here are some other options:

  • You can purchase a software package like ACT! Or GoldMine
  • You can subscribe to an online service like
  • You can track information using a spreadsheet, database, or e-mail program
Next, plan your tactics for increasing account penetration by considering the following questions:
  • What process will you use to regularly expose each of your contacts in the account to your company's entire portfolio of products and services?
  • Who can provide testimonials that will help you win business in other business units, departments, or divisions in the account?
  • Who can refer you to new contacts in other business units, departments, or divisions in the account?
Why is it necessary to repetitively expose your contacts to your company's entire portfolio of products and services? Because they forget! I can tell you from personal experience that there is nothing more frustrating than finding out a customer has placed a large order with another salesperson...and the only reason they didn't give you the order was because they didn't know or remember that you could fill it!

Is There More to Account Management?

There can be, but activities focused on increasing account penetration make up the critical core. Account management does become more complex if a team of people is managing a regional, national, or global account, but most of the complexity pertains to coordinating the activities of the team members.

Don't make account management more complex than it needs to be! The basic goal is to maximize account penetration. Look for opportunities to sell every product and service in your portfolio to every business entity (business unit, department, division, etc.) in the account. Make maximum use of referrals and testimonials to help you initiate new relationships. Regularly remind all of your contacts of the full breadth of your portfolio of products and services. Be organized and keep meticulous records. If you do these things, you should be amply rewarded for your efforts!

Copyright 2005 -- Alan Rigg

Sales performance expert Alan Rigg is the author of How to Beat the 80/20 Rule in Selling: Why Most Salespeople Don't Perform and What to Do About It. To learn more about his book and sign up for more FREE sales and sales management tips, visit

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