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Why do we allow ourselves to risk all of our business with an account based on the relationship of a single person?

It’s sad, but that is what happens with far too many account management/selling relationships.

It starts with the salesperson finding a little bit of success with their contact at the account and it never moves beyond that single contact.

Unfortunately, I’ve watched it too many times with the companies I’ve worked with and yes, I’m occasionally guilty of doing the same thing.

Challenge is in seeing the need to expand the relationships when everything is going good.  Strategy I recommend and the one we use in our own company is making sure that with each account, we have at least two contacts.

Additionally, each account has a relationship based on “x’ amount of volume.  Let me break down how the concept works.

First, we don’t rely upon only one person at an account.  Yes, there is a point person, but there is also another person who is equally knowledgable with whom we can talk about the business.

Second, the number of quality relationships with each account is based on the volume potential of the account.  Example, you may have one account that does a $1 million a year and another that does $3 million.  Using the $1 million as the benchmark, it means the $3 million account is going to require at least 3 high-quality relationships.

Objective is to invest time developing relationships equal to the amount of opportunity an account may bring.

When I share this concept with salespeople and get them thinking about how they’ve been spending their time up to then, it’s amazing what it uncovers.

Typically, sales teams invest their time developing relationships they’re comfortable with.  What this really means is they are spending time in a very haphazard manner.

Risk to this is one day the big account is suddenly no longer the big account, because the sole contact you had quits or moves to a different position.

Using the strategy I’ve outlined above does two things.  First, it will help uncover new opportunities along the way.  It stands to reason that more discussions with more people at the account will reveal more opportunities. Second, it serves as an insurance policy in helping to maintain continuity of business if and when a key contact leaves.

If you have relied on only one contact at each of your accounts, you need to start counting the costs of what that approach could cost you.

Begin today to seek ways to build other relationships as well.

Copyright 2014, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.

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