Most people think of prospecting as reaching out to people they don’t know, with an over-the-top approach, to interest them in buying something they’re not thinking about. This isn’t the only way to generate more leads.
Prospecting isn’t just a cold activity, and you don’t need a sledgehammer approach to make it work.
Key accounts are typically huge, untapped opportunities for more business. To generate more leads, sellers often use the same tactics they do when cold prospecting. It’s not called “key account sales” just to use fancy words. It’s different.
If you’re selling to a key account, you know them already. And they know you. You’re important to each other. You’ve built trust. That’s a very strong platform—one you should be careful to protect.
At the same time, most realize they can and should be doing more work with their key accounts. Since no one else is going to make sure the client receives maximum business value from their relationship with your company, you must be proactive to make it happen.
Yet many sellers—especially seller-doers such as at services firms—think, "I shouldn’t bother my clients," and "I don’t want to upset their trust. They can’t see me too as self-interested, and selling to them does that."
This thinking is misguided.
Let’s assume you’ve already led a solid internal value discovery session. You have a set of ideas for how you should expand account relationships by adding more value.
Now that you’ve carefully explored working with the client in more ways that will help them be more successful, the outreach doesn’t need be complicated or contrived. When it goes something like this—whether it be via phone or email—it tends to work just fine.
[Insert pleasantries / rapport here.]
Last week the team and I got to talking about the work we’re doing in A, B, and C. In fact, we ended up having a meeting to discuss a few things we’ve been seeing as the project has moved along.
At the meeting, we generated some ideas about improving X and Y—something you and I have, I realize, never talked about—and I think we came up with some really interesting possibilities. In fact, with one of them, we think it’ll speed up the process quite a bit, which I know is something you’re always looking to do.
After getting pretty deep into the discussion, we thought: this meeting would be much better if Joanna and Steve were here. We know quite a bit about your situation, but can’t fully flesh out the ideas without your help and collaboration.
If you’d like, we can swing by sometime in the next few weeks to discuss. If so, we’ll write up an agenda to get us started so you can get the sense of the big picture of a few key areas we were talking about.
There are innumerable varieties of length, tone, and specifics you can communicate, but the ideas are to
- intrigue them with the possibility of creating value that’s really worthwhile to them,
- with a straightforward approach,
- that invites collaboration.
These three points are critical for your messaging if you want to generate more leads with key accounts.
If this were cold prospecting, you might see advice to include something like, “We’ve been able to help organizations like X and Y to increase the speed of their new location openings by 21%, saving an average of $400k per opening.”
This can be a good approach when there isn’t an existing relationship, but it tends to be overkill for someone you know. If you have a good relationship, they should say yes to a meeting, or at least ask to find out more, and you can take it from there.
If they ask questions, let them know the gist of what you’re thinking. You might say that you’ve been working with another client, and a few innovations you’re produced there are generating great results like you mentioned. In any case, keep the tone of the initial outreach conversational.
It’s a revelation and a relief for many sellers to know that they can (and should) reach out to existing clients with a conversational and straightforward approach that doesn’t make them feel too salesy. At the same time, the approach won’t upset the relationship, and will, indeed, generate more leads and fill the pipeline with new business opportunities.