Updated: Sep 13
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT | LINKEDIN PROSPECTING | RESOURCES
By guest author Liz Lawson
May 10, 2015
Mention the phrase “social selling” in complex B2B sales situations, and the mind goes straight to prospecting and new account acquisition. The pressure is on for new customers/logos. But what about existing accounts? How do you balance new customer acquisition with ensuring that your existing customer base feels like it isn’t being ignored or forgotten?
In account management, nothing is worse for your business or your customer relationships than only contacting your client at the 11th hour of a deal asking to put in a bid. On-going communication – along with increasingly deeper and broader account penetration – assures this situation will have less likelihood to arise.
I know this is easier said than done. In a complex B2B sale, where buying decisions can be affected by five to twenty-five people, protecting and growing existing accounts is no walk in the park. The good news is: while LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator has proven its value as a prospecting and customer development tool; it’s also a powerful ally in the care and feeding of existing accounts.
What management wants
In an article on the RainSelling blog, sales expert and best selling author, Mike Schultz, notes that when he asks clients “What needs to happen at your company to maximize your success with your strategic accounts?” the answers look like this:
The leaders at the account need to know about the value we can bring them besides what we’re doing for them right now.
We need to penetrate different divisions of the accounts.
Our relationships need to be deeper if we want to keep competitors out.
We need to work directly with decision makers at the enterprise level.
Mike’s position is that this list is not unique to strategic account management – it could be used to describe the job of any salesperson. My position is that Sales Navigator is just as powerful for accomplishing the above whether it’s for account management or new account sales.
At its simplest, account management duties involve staying top of mind with existing customers and finding new areas of opportunity within the extended organization.
Staying engaged after the deal closes
The traditional method of relying on marketing communications (newsletters, press releases, automated email messages) peppered by the occasional “how’s it going” email triggered by a reminder from your CRM is less than perfect, especially if your competition has eyes and special emphasis on your account.
As any sales expert knows, the most effective way to keep customers engaged is to reach out to them with the right information at appropriate times, when important trigger events occur – not just at randomly scheduled intervals. Sales Navigator, pardon the worn out cliché, is truly a game changer when it comes to this.
Once you’ve added people as Leads and companies as Accounts, Sales Navigator will monitor their activity and notify you when changes occur or actions are taken. You’ll know when your customers post status updates, like or share articles or comment on group discussions. You’ll be notified when they score a promotion or leave for a new employer. You’ll see when the company is covered in the news.
I know of no better way to stay on top of what is happening in your accounts, see what interests your customers and time your outreach to stay top of mind and useful. You’ll know what webinars and events to invited them to, when to shoot a congratulations notes, what white papers, reports and other content might interest them.
Finding new opportunities
The monitoring capabilities within Sales Navigator, while keeping you in the know with your existing customers, are also quite handy for identifying potential new opportunities and finding the people who are likely to be part of a buying decision.
Trigger events both positive and negative, such as a merger or acquisition, large project wins or a system failure, will show up in your notifications. You can program searches to inform you of new hires with relevant titles. A quick search of prospect profiles can indicate the launch of a new project.
Each time you find new opportunities and new people, you can call on your existing network within the company and make it easy for them to help you with a warm introduction. This puts you head over heels above anyone trying to make a cold connection. In fact, LinkedIn’s own research shows that buyers are 5X more likely to engage with sales people with a warm introduction.
So there you have it. Sales Navigator is as powerful a platform for protecting and growing existing accounts as it is for finding and penetrating new accounts. It comes with a price tag; but it’s an investment that can bring a big pay-off.