AS2.1.2 Prospect (5%)

Profile the ACCOUNT...

First, think about the factors that may influence your strategy for this ACCOUNT, including:
- Our long-term goals for this ACCOUNT
- The ACCOUNT’s Industry Trends
- Outside Forces affecting the ACCOUNT
- The ACCOUNT's Mission Statement
- How the ACCOUNT views their own Business Structure
- The ACCOUNT's Culture and Value system
- The ACCOUNT's Key Performance Indicators

You need to understand the ACCOUNT's "Enterprise Issues" and determine if you can "link" your solution to these issues.

The benefit to you of thinking about this is you can create value and differentiation, not by what you are selling, but by what problem you are linking the solution to.

What follows reinforces those concepts.

Have you done your research on the ACCOUNT's major business issues?
You can't develop an effective strategy unless you have a broad understanding of your ACCOUNT, including their 1) market, 2) strategy, 3) culture and 4) financial situation.
When two competitors are close, the one who can better adapt their strategy to the ACCOUNT's top-level business needs will win.

1. Document your ACCOUNT Goal...

Think beyond this opportunity to your enterprise-level goals for this ACCOUNT. This may change your strategy for this opportunity.

Enterprise-level goals are your desired future ACCOUNT relationship. In order to properly consider your enterprise level goals, it is crucial to understand both your current relationship with the ACCOUNT and the potential for the relationship to grow.

Partnering with some companies may be financial death for your organization, while partnering with others may secure success for you and your company. Thus, it is important to think about what would constitute a beneficial relationship, and then to communicate your strategic goals to everyone on the account team, especially the project managers.

Types of Enterprise-Level goals we discussed in the Complex Sale workshop include:
1-PENETRATE (Gain a toehold)
2-Move up Value Chain
3-Leverage Current Business
4-Maintain Status Quo
5-Defend and Protect
6-Repair Partnership
7-Become Their Standard

1-PENETRATE (Gain a toehold)
It may be strategic to gain the first piece of business in this account, however small, because of the future potential.

Eight approaches you might use to penetrate an ACCOUNT are:
1A-Corporate HQ
1B-New Player
1C-Other Division
1D-Professional Association
1E-Hot Issue and Sponsor
1F-Integrate with other Products
1G-Business Partners
1H-Strategic Alliance

2-Move up Value Chain
The ACCOUNT views us as a tactical solution now, but we want to link to higher-level business problems to improve the ACCOUNT's perception of the value of our solutions.

3-Leverage Current Business
Are there add-on sales that we can make easily?

4-Maintain Status Quo
This may be a good ACCOUNT, but expending resources in an attempt to advance our relationship to a higher level is unlikely to bring in additional business. We just want to maintain what we have.

5-Defend and Protect
We anticipate potential competitive encroachments on this account and should raise our defenses with powerful people.

6-Repair Partnership
Something has happened (e.g., we failed to perform, several powerful sponsors have left the ACCOUNT) to damage a once strong relationship with this ACCOUNT. We must take action to rectify this or the ACCOUNT will lack the level of trust necessary for our relationship to be defined as a partnership in the future.

7-Become Their Standard
We have achieved such a dominant market share with this ACCOUNT that they have designated our solution as a corporate-wide standard. As such, we do not have to compete for each sale.

We have established trust at the Company, Product/Service and Personal level to the extent that the ACCOUNT views us as a trusted advisor and gives us the right of first refusal on our types of solutions. The benefit to us is shorter sales cycles, larger sales, and more profitable business. The benefit to the ACCOUNT is lower risk.

Coaching Questions
- What is your current relationship with the ACCOUNT?
- What is the ACCOUNT's business description?
- Where do you want your relationship with the ACCOUNT to be in a year?
- How do you know your goals for this relationship are realistic?

2. Document the ACCOUNT's Industry (NAICS) trends...

Consider what is going on in the ACCOUNT's industry. Being able to understand the ACCOUNT's industry issues will give you insight into their motivation and help you link your solution to their problems later on.

For an effective executive sales call you must demonstrate literacy in the ACCOUNT's industry trends. Executives are usually not willing to educate you - you must do your own homework.

Industry issues and trends are general descriptions of what is going on in the ACCOUNT's market sector.A common mistake people make when specifying Major Industry Issues & Trends is that they confuse ACCOUNT-specific issues with industry-wide market trends.

Bad examples (company-specific issues): 1) Need database, 2) Company trying to automate service center, 3) Falling stock price

Good examples (industry-wide market trends): 1) Market shift to e-commerce, 2) Customer service demands increasing, 3) Consolidation (Mergers and Acquisitions)

Industry Trends Coaching Questions
-Have you made sure to go outside the company to get the information you need?
-Can you see any connection between the opportunity and the industry trends you have identified?
-Did the issues you specified relate to industry-wide market trends as opposed to company-specific issues?

3. Document Outside Forces on the ACCOUNT...

To determine the Outside Forces on your ACCOUNT, you may need to talk to people and read business literature, as many of the Outside Forces will not be documented in the company website or reports.

It is important to determine the Outside Forces on your ACCOUNT, because these forces will motivate many of their actions.

When you talk with executives, knowing what outside pressures and issues they face will help you find their problem and link to it effectively. Also, these Outside Forces are sources of influence on your ACCOUNT and may be leveraged by you (or your competitor) in a sales opportunity.

Outside Forces Coaching Questions
- Are any of the ACCOUNT's customers that you identified competitors of yours?
- Are you doing any work for competitors of the ACCOUNT?
- Are you doing any work for a partner of the ACCOUNT?
- Do we have any relationships with these organizations (outside forces on the ACCOUNT) that we can leverage in our sales effort?
- Does our competitor?

4. Document the ACCOUNT's Mission Statement...

The mission statement can usually be found in a company's website or in reports like the chairman's letter to stockholders, although not all companies have mission statements. The mission statement is the stated overall goal of the company. The ACCOUNT may call it something else; e.g., their "focus," "strategic initiatives," "purpose," etc.

Mission statements may not seem relevant, but many company executives take them seriously, so it is important to be familiar with them. Knowing how you can help a company fulfill its mission statement can really differentiate you from the competition when talking to company executives who do value it.

Mission Statement Coaching Questions
- Does their mission drive their goals and values or is it just a plaque on the wall?
- How do you know this?
- How can you help them fulfill their mission?

5. Document the ACCOUNT's Business Structure...

Knowing how the executives view their own company will help you talk with them about appropriate enterprise-level goals.

Look at the company through the eyes of their CEO.
- Does the CEO view the company as one tightly integrated organization or as several different organizations?
- This should influence how you look at the "Enterprise".

For example, Texaco does not consider themselves to be one organization. Rather, they are over 100 separate and distinct organizations, each with its own goals, issues and values. If you were trying to sell something to a division or subsidiary of Texaco, it may be more relevant to consider the issues of that division in developing your plan, rather than the issues of Texaco headquarters. Unlike Texaco, McDonalds is a very tightly integrated company, with similar values around the world.

Business Structure Coaching Questions
- At the enterprise level, is the ACCOUNT the corporation itself, a subsidiary, or a division?
- Does the CEO consider the company to be one company or several companies?

6. Document the ACCOUNT's Culture...

Companies and business units have personalities and values.

The ACCOUNT's culture and values contribute to a set of "unspoken" requirements for their solution. If you are unfamiliar with the ACCOUNT's culture and values, the company website is a good place to begin. Assess the culture and value attributes that define your ACCOUNT's personality. This will be your assessment at a point in time, since cultures shift in organizations. Consider how this may influence how you position your messages and company.

It is important to be aware of culture and values, as they will influence how the ACCOUNT views your company and your proposed solution to address their problem.

Are you selling to the ACCOUNT the way they want to buy? 

In some cases, you represent an enabling tool or agent to change culture. A company's culture and values always play a role in any opportunity, so it is critical that you are aware of them and leverage them whenever possible.

Culture types include:

1A-Cohesive vs. 1B-Divisive Culture
There may be more than one culture present in your ACCOUNT at a point in time, especially if they are going through a cultural transition.  Departments or divisions often have strong subcultures. If they are "culturally schizophrenic" do you understand the conflicting cultures and which is likely to prevail?

2A-Centralized vs. 2B-Decentralized
- Do they push decision-making out to the subsidiaries and divisions or pull it into corporate?
- In whose opinion?
- Is this likely to change in the future?

3A-Value-added vs. 3B-Price
- Will they pay a premium for value-added or are they commodity buyers?
- Look around their office - do they pay for quality?
- How do they position themselves in their marketplace?

4A-Proven vs. 4B-Innovation
- Do they like to be on the "leading edge" or do they only buy proven solutions?
- Are they early adopters or laggards?
This has tremendous implications if you are selling new systems and should be addressed early in the sales cycle.

Observe other technology investments they have made.
If a company is inclined toward "proven" solutions and you have an innovative product, you may have a difficult time later in the sale when the ACCOUNT starts to worry about the risk of making a decision. You aren't necessarily out of the game, but you must try to position your product in a way that takes this ACCOUNT value into account.

5A-Partner vs. 5B-Adversary
- The adversarial culture of some ACCOUNTs will not make partnering possible.
- How do they treat other vendors?
- If they want a partner, you and your company will need to behave as a partner.

6A-Best-of-Breed vs. 6B-Single Vendor
- Do they like "one-stop shopping" with a single vendor (Single Vendor), or are you going to have to compete for each component of a solution (Best-of-Breed)?
- Does this put you at a competitive advantage or disadvantage?
- This has implications when choosing a Fractional strategy (or trying to defend against one from a competitor).
- It is also key if integration is your strength.

7A-Logical vs. 7B-Emotional
- Are they driven by Finance, Engineering, Manufacturing, Sales or Marketing?
- Finance and technology-led companies tend to be logical, whereas sales and marketing-led companies tend to be emotional.

8A-Long-term vs. 8B-Short-term
- Are the required features or capabilities available now?
- Can they/will they wait for a superior solution later?

Coaching Questions
- What have you observed that makes you think these are their key values?
- Have you talked to people in the ACCOUNT organization?
- Do they need to change their culture to meet the business challenges facing them?
- Who are the catalysts for culture change inside the account?

7. Document the ACCOUNT's Financial Situation...

Information about Key Performance Indicators should be available in the company's website or annual report to shareholders.

Consider the Key Performance Indicators for the ACCOUNT and whether they are increasing, decreasing, or holding steady (flat).

In order to effectively leverage the Key Performance Indicators to understand the ACCOUNT's problem, you should consider them in the context of other factors such as the ACCOUNT's culture and values, their competition, and industry trends.

Coaching Questions
- How do the Key Performance Indicator trends you specified compare to the Major Industry Issues & Trends you identified?
- Which of the Key Performance Indicators do you think your ACCOUNT cares about most?
- Are any of the Key Performance Indicators symptoms of dormant problems?