I first met this week’s Marketing Expert, Janice B Gordon, when she was one of the speakers at the 2018 convention of the PSA (Professional Speaking Association) to which I belong. I made lots of notes in my book that day and so it was great to speak to Janice for this blog, about her take on sales and marketing. As a leading Key Accounts Sales Strategist, Janice regularly inspires sales audiences with real-life business stories and relevant strategies. While she usually speaks to large organisations and sales teams, what she told me about developing key accounts is just as important for small businesses.
Who Are Your Key Accounts?
Your key accounts are your most valued clients, in terms of their strategic importance, the value you gain from them, the volume of work they give you or how much you earn from them. When you run your own business, you get to decide on the criteria that describe a key account. When you know what they are, you then need to have those profiles to hand when you’re making key decisions about your business. You need to be really clear about how what you do impacts on those key customers.
“I don’t like the idea of individual client profiles or personas do not work in business to business marketing”, Janice told me. “When you’re going after a larger contract, you will have to engage with and build relationships with 5 or more different people. Don’t rely on just one connection – you must have a relationship with everyone who will be making the final decision. Each of the people in the decision making group will have different personalities and ambitions for the same goal, and you will need to get to know them all.”
What’s the best way to do this? “Social selling,” says Janice, who then told me that the phrase miss represents the process; it’s not about selling on social media at all. It’s about using social media to build relationships and listen actively. Janice explains: “We have to be online, because most of our buyers and clients are and you need to be in the same space as your customers.” Buyer behaviour has changed – we all do so much online research now whether buying that next holiday or the next training programme from a noted expert.
Janice went on to tell me more about her Scale Your Sales Attraction methodology:
1. Engage – Get to Know Your Clients
You can’t engage online unless you’re being found by your most valued clients. Too many people broadcast their marketing messages and send out information, but they’re not clear on who their ideal and most valued clients are. 100% of buyers are online; they do 70% of their research online. So you need to understand where your buyers are. You have to know who your most valued clients are and understand their wants and needs.
You can get to know your clients by interviewing them and having conversations. Take them out for lunch to chat about what’s going on for them. But do your homework first. If you know a bit about what’s going on in their world (which you can research online) then you won’t have to ask “What keeps you awake at night? Cringe!”
Think about how you would like to be engaged with and see how you can engage with your clients in the same way. Janice encourages people to be authentic in business, which means treating others as you would like to be treated. You can’t be all things to all people, but you can be connected into your most valued clients.
The best tip that I picked up from hearing Janice speak last year was that just ‘liking’ someone’s post on social media won’t help you to engage. Make a comment; ask a question; pay a compliment. This will help you to start a conversation with them.
I’ve been doing this since October last year and have much better conversations. Yes it is time consuming, but it’s worth doing for key clients and prospects. And it’s a great way to stay on their radar.
“If marketers don’t think they’re selling and if sellers don’t think they’re marketing, they’re not engaging online during the buying process, and they’re doing it wrong,” Janice told me. For her, sales and marketing should not be separated. Buyers don’t care if you’re coming from sales or marketing – they just want to speak to someone who has the answer and can fix their problem. Your job is to be the right person in the right place, when they need insight or want a solution to their problem.
2. Educate – What Do You Want to Tell Them?
When you’re in a sales meeting, rather than just trying to sell, think about how you can educate your potential clients. Find out what they don’t know by asking them strategic searching questions and then fill in their gaps with relevant insightful information that helps them. Sharing your knowledge and expertise at all stages of the buying process is the way to building a solid relationship with a prospect and to nurture your existing clients.
You can also use social media to educate your clients and prospects. When you comment on someone else’s post, take the opportunity to share something useful or add some value.
3. Elevate the Relationship
You need to be front of mind when a potential or existing client is ready to buy. “Don’t try to sell when they’re not ready – that will just damage your credibility,” Janice explained. We need to keep building relationships once clients have bought. This helps them to see you as the only choice. “Carry on engaging and educating in order to evelvate the relationship,” she said.
She went on to explain that you’re looking to elevate your relationships with your most valued client to that of partner or advocate (or what some people call ‘raving fans’). When you do they will stay with you for the long term and recommend you to other most valued people.
Whatever the size of your company – whether you have a large sale team or there is just you doing all the sales and marketing – look at what you can do to look after your key accounts, your most valued . Plan how you can engage with them more. What can you do to educate them? How can you elevate your relationships further? It can be hard to stay focused on the most important thing in your business – your clients! It is essential for the future growth of your business. Applying Janice’s Scale Your Sales Attraction methodology of Engage, Educate and Elevate in your business is an excellent way to help you give your most valued clients the focus they deserve.
And if you’d like to know more about Janice, take a look at her website at www.janicebgordon.com and connect and comment on her social media!