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4 Examples of Big Plays to Help You Win Major Sales and Grow Accounts

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Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

Big plays are major actions you can take to win your most important sales opportunities and grow your most important accounts.

Read: What is a Big Play and When to Use One

The first step in creating a Big Play is to define the goal you're trying to achieve. It could be that you need to:

  1. Strengthen your relationship with the key buyers.
  2. Create new relationships in order to win the sale or grow the account.
  3. Maximize the buyers' perception of the value of moving forward, or choosing you.
  4. Displace or win against a strong competitor.

All four of these challenges can be overcome with the right Big Play. Here are examples of Big Plays that address all 4 areas:

  1. Strengthening Relationships. One seller we knew of invited their buyers to an off-site 1-day all-expenses-paid executive retreat. They invited leaders from their existing accounts that they knew their prospective buyers would like to connect with. And they brought in a noted industry speaker.

    They positioned the retreat as an exclusive gathering for senior leaders to exchange ideas, share insights, collaborate on issues, and find inspiration among an elite group of industry leaders. And they hosted golf. (Yes, this Big Play is big, but this client had accounts in the tens, and sometimes hundreds, of millions of dollars.)

  2. Creating New Relationships. One seller regularly offered to perform research for high-pursuit-intensity opportunities by using their company's unique capabilities and resources in the specific area the prospect focused in.

    The cost to them? Committing several important team members to the research effort. The outcomes were that the research regularly allowed them to establish connections with new contacts at the company, and create groundswells for taking action.

  3. Increasing Value Perception. To maximize the perception of value in the eyes of the buyer, we've seen sellers:

    • Facilitate value discovery sessions with their buyers to co-create value and brainstorm ideas.
    • Bring buyers in to their client sites for meetings and tours to show off their capabilities in action, and the positive effects of working with them.
    • Create something custom for the buyer. For example, we know of one company that was selling ERP software to retail chains. As a part of their sales process, they visited store sites, interviewed key stakeholders, and did an analysis of what they learned. The seller presented this analysis along with a roadmap for improving the company's processes. No other company did this, and they were awarded the business.
  4. Competitive Positioning. You can also use Big Plays with existing accounts to protect them from competitors and grow them. For example, say you're vulnerable in a certain area that leaves the door open for a competitor to establish themselves with an existing account. You may be able to prevent a competitor's entry by inviting the account to become a beta tester for your development of a new product or service the buyer would find valuable. Not only will you give them the beta-test for free, you'll collaborate with them on making it just right for their environment.

    The client gets to influence the design of the product or service and gains features or functionality they otherwise wouldn’t, at a significant cost savings. At the same time, you collaborate deeply with your client, strengthen your relationship with the account, and preempt competitors.

A Big Play can also be designed to address multiple challenges. In one sale that we know of, several of the Business Drivers behind a purchase had a preference for a competitor. The seller worked with an internal champion to identify another senior executive at the company who was only loosely involved in the purchase decision. However, should she express a preference, she would have great influence.

The seller had to create a new relationship and position himself favorably against the preferred competitor. To do so, he created an experience around his offerings and worked tirelessly to arrange schedules and build a case for why this other senior executive should attend. After weeks of effort, he was able to do so.

At the end of the session, the executive said to the core buying team, "This was great. I look forward to seeing it get underway and working with these folks." What had been a 9 month sales process, quickly turned to contracting. Two weeks later the seller won the opportunity.

The possibilities for Big Plays are endless. These examples are meant to get the juices flowing. The idea is that when the stakes are high, a Big Play can be just what you need to stack the deck in your favor to help you win the deal. 


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Topics: Sales Opportunity Management