Key Account Acquisition: Key Accounts: Target Discretionary, not Annual Budgets


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Getting the first “toehold” inside a key account is a challenge. By positioning your business service in a very specific niche related to industry-wide pressures and relating your service to what an executive, discretionary budgets would fund, the odds of winning an initial assignment increase.
Has your firm’s first assignment been funded out of a discretionary budget? 
Discretionary budgets fund one-time interventions supporting commitments the board has made to shareholders and principal stakeholders. 
A training client who focused on behavioural change aligned their service with customer experience rather than training.  Senior executives were ready to listen to anything which would affect customer retention and acquisition because there was fierce competition in the industry. 
Customer loyalty ultimately affects profitability, so rather than being seen as just another training business, my client was percieved as a means to reaching a critical goal.
Had we chosen to present the service as “training”, we would have been sent to the training department, which administers annual budgets rather than executives’ discretionary budgets. 
Our success was the result of understanding what was likely to be funded by executives heading up a business unit.  Here are some places to look for clues to tailoring your service to discretionary budget items:

1. A company frequently announces its intentions to shareholders. Senior officers’ bonuses and stock values depend on successful completion. 
Therefore, if you demonstrate how your service can help a company reach that goal, a profitability target, for example, doors will open more easily for you.
For instance, a stock offering may be dependent upon maintaining a certain trading price.
Read earnings reports, shareholder releases, announcements to the investment community for clues. Then develop a “business case” executive briefing which backs up your claims and use that document to get permission to talk further.
2. Timelines for delivery on quarterly earnings are often short.   Your value may be nimble, national reach.
Or your value may be that your service is completely stand-alone, while offering continual visibility because the work is completed on your clients’ intranet.
Companies are doing more with less today and their people are time-starved.  If you can deliver with minimal demands on people inside the company, executives will be listening.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Catherine McQuaid
Customer Discovery, Lean Sales practitioner 1. Repeatable, scalable sales processes 2. Market-tested hypotheses = data-informed decisions


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