This is an interesting question given that a business which doesn’t sell can’t remain in business for long and that affects everyone within it.
Prospecting, new business development and relationship management are key topics to discuss, especially as it relates to who in the organisation is responsible for these activities.
It’s usually very easy for non-sales people to take a hands off view around the sales function and point at the sales team as the ones solely responsible for these activities. However, a coordinated effort across the business from the top down is a better way to manage these important activities.
Who and how many people get involved depends on your target markets and how large and complex your clients are.
It is important that your prospecting, new business development and relationship management activities are organised and coordinated around well thought out strategic and tactical account plans. This is especially important for strategic key accounts where there are multiple stakeholders involved on both sides – supplier and client.
To help you coordinate your team’s prospecting, new business development and relationship management efforts here is a checklist you may like to consider:
Level 4: Strategic Key Account & Large Complex Account Development
Here we need mature, experienced business executives who are supremely competent salespeople and negotiators, business people, relationship managers, and diplomats. These people are required to develop, apply, supervise and implement strategic sales plans that help grow accounts as well as build barriers to exit.
They identify potential clients and negotiate long-term agreements for solutions that impact a significant proportion of the buyer company’s value chain and the selling company’s revenue stream. They are responsible for profit and loss in an account, for incremental share of wallet and spend in a category and the sustainable relationship between buyer and seller.
Who is responsible? CEO/MD/GM, sales director, strategic key account managers, partners, directors, C-suite executives, through to customer service, distribution and technical support
Level 3: Major & Complex Account Development
Here we need experienced (usually a minimum of 5 years field experience) salespeople with well-developed business acumen. These sales executives are seasoned in solution selling. They build and maintain longer-term relationships with clients. Sales tend to be longer-term in nature and are usually to larger or more complex clients. Buyers may not be strategic accounts but key in target markets.
An organisation needs to explore what internal and external resources they can utilise to support those with the key responsibilities for these accounts in their task and provide them with additional insights and opportunities.
Who is responsible? Sales managers, partners, business development managers, account managers through to customer service, distribution and technical support
Level 2: Standard Account Development
At this level we need salespeople who are accountable for the business development and delivery of contracts, providing the prime point of contact to the customer. They develop new clients and manage existing clients of medium size often for the standard services and products of the company.
For these accounts, a high level of standards and a very systematic client management system is necessary to ensure all accounts are consistently managed on a high quality level.
Who is responsible? Business development managers, account managers, field salespeople through to customer service, distribution and technical support
Level 1: Occasional or Indirect Clients
At this level, we need salespeople who are accountable for finding and closing sales in order to meet individual/team quota and company business objectives. They will predominantly focus on new business in small to medium size client accounts and prospective accounts.
The mindset of a hunter and gatherer is often considered useful for such a role, as these client managers are constantly on the lookout for new business opportunities. They need to be agile, flexible and have a degree of endurance in a process that doesn’t stop. Good planning and self-management skills are vital not to exhaust yourself and your sources quickly in such a role.
Who is responsible? Field salespeople, telephone and floor salespeople through to customer service, distribution and technical support
If you want to build a solid pipeline of viable sales opportunities, develop viable relationships, and consistently win good business then you need everyone in your business to know where and how they support the sales effort.