Major Accounts: Differentiating Business Services


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A client with a financial institution as a client retained me to  pursue new business  in the financial services sector.  After 8 months of work, we didn’t have even a glimmer of a project.

I knew I had to change the approach. This is what I did:

1. Positioned the service as customer experience improvement rather than a training service

2. Began the sales process with business unit leaders rather than the training department. I had noticed that budgets were approved by the business unit, with training being subject matter experts who influenced the decision.

3. Demonstrated the benefit of increased returns on “sunk costs” made in marketing and skills training.

4. Defined a very narrow niche within the procurement group to avoid commoditization.  The service category was defined as “experiential learning in customer experience improvement initiatives”.


We made these changes and within 14 months had secured an engagement with the fourth largest bank in the United States. 
My client has since become a preferred provider enterprise-wide within this bank.
Multiple assignments from this bank has produced double-digit growth.

 A strategic benefit  has been increased credibility within the financial services sector, leading to assignments with 4 of the top 25 banks in the country.
What made the difference? 

1. Positioning the service in terms of its benefits (customer experience improvement) rather than its features (low-cost, telephone-based delivery)

2. Understanding that the real purchaser was the head of the business unit, not the training department, which functions as a service supply co-ordinator.

3.  Demonstrating that the service would amplify the financial return on investments already made by other areas of the business eg. marketing and skills training. 

4. Defining the terms of the service contract very tightly so that there were few to no competing providers.

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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