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How to Maximize Account Penetration and Jump-Start Sales

Maximizing account penetration is one of the most critical functions in sales. Why? The depth of account penetration has an enormous impact on revenues and profitability.

Think about it ? if every one of your company's salespeople sold every product and service in their portfolio to every business unit, department, and division of every account, what kind of number would they produce? Something huge, right?

From a sales management perspective, few things are more frustrating than having a bunch of "one trick ponies" on a sales team. These are salespeople that have developed a comfort level with one product or service, and that product or service makes up 80% to 100% of their sales.

I used to work for a computer distributor that had numerous salespeople that fit this mold. They would congratulate themselves for selling servers to an account, completely oblivious to the fact that the very same account was also buying storage, networking equipment, software, and professional services. The distributor's salespeople only scratched the surface of the total available opportunity in most accounts.

Here is a second huge frustration for sales managers and executives -- salespeople that don't produce "traction" with new products and services.

When your company introduces a new product or service, you make a pretty sizeable investment to train your salespeople to sell the new product or service, right? Doesn't it drive you crazy when only a fraction of your salespeople actually sell the new product or service? The return on your sales training investment stinks, and your company never sees the revenue boost it expected to receive from the new product or service.

Why do I bring up lack of account penetration and lack of sales traction for new products and services in the same article? Because the same problem is often at the root of both issues! That problem is an excessive focus on technical details.

Many managers and salespeople believe that salespeople need to become experts in order to sell a product or service effectively. To develop this understanding, companies invest enormous amounts of time and money in exhaustive training to educate salespeople on product features and benefits, performance characteristics, industry information, pricing guidelines, promotional activities, available collateral material, etc.

Unfortunately, when salespeople leave these training sessions, they often have no idea how to find or qualify opportunities for the product or service they were just "trained" to sell! This leaves the salespeople frustrated, as they feel the time spent in training was wasted. Management is equally frustrated with their sales team's inability to gain traction with new products and services, and their inability to learn to sell their company's entire portfolio of products and services.

This mutual frustration results from a lack of recognition of one very important fact:

When a salesperson identifies a qualified opportunity, there is usually no shortage of knowledgeable resources that can assist the salesperson with converting the opportunity into a sale.

These resources may include technical or other specialists from the salesperson's own company, or similar resources that are employed by suppliers or channel partners.

If salespeople have access to product/service experts, why should they spend time learning technical details? Instead, why don't they laser-focus their learning on how to find and qualify opportunities?

Your company can facilitate this kind of focused learning by redesigning product and service training curriculums to address the following topics:

  • Product/Solution/Service Overview: What does the product or service do (in plain English)?

  • Differentiation: What are a few key differences between this product or service and competitive products or services?

  • Business Problems: What business problems does the product or service solve?

  • Qualifying Questions: What questions should salespeople ask to determine whether a prospect or customer has the business problems that the product or service can solve, and to quantify the impact of these business problems?

  • Expert Resources: What expert resources are available to help salespeople manage technical details?
If your salespeople have access to product/service experts, you can turn them into prospecting and qualifying machines by focusing your company's product/service training curriculums on how to find and qualify opportunities. This strategy will help your organization maximize account penetration and jump-start sales for new products and services.

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 http://www.8020performance.com.

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