Today’s post is by Bill Wallace, vice president of Revenue Storm, where he helps sales and marketing organizations transform through the alignment of all key functional groups to a selected go-to-market strategy to accelerate sales and drive sustainable revenues. He is a proven executive leader who has excelled in both entrepreneurial ventures as well as a Fortune 100 organization. His experience encompasses all aspects of successful sales growth, account management, and marketing.
Creating new sales opportunities within accounts can be daunting. The fact is, it is relatively simple: it’s all about developing and sharing ideas with your contacts while helping their business and personal interests. Simple to state, perhaps, but the execution can be a challenge.
The good news is that there is a simple way of doing this: the “hotlist.” This is just as important to account leaders as it is to business development professionals. If you follow the steps outlined below, you will almost be guaranteed a constant flow of new sales opportunities.
First, what do we mean by “hotlist”? The hotlist is a list of the influential people in the target account (or accounts), including their segment, sector, geography, division, branch, practice, and region, as appropriate.
Step #1: Create the List
List the people within the account that you know have positions of potential influence or decision responsibility. If you have multiple accounts, you may want to prioritize your accounts to create demand with those that have not produced to the potential you believe is possible. If you do not know the names of these people, list their job titles so you can conduct research to find out who holds these positions. For example, if you have 10 accounts – with six key contact titles per account – you have 60 suspects/prospects with whom you will need to share your ideas.
Step #2: Get Organized
Once you have the names, titles, and contact details, create a matrix or spreadsheet. List the names down the left-hand column and place the following at the top of the rows going from left to right:
- Business challenge
- Contact’s personal agenda (what they want to accomplish in their current role on a personal level)
- Your idea related to how you can help them
- What is your message to gain their interest?
- First contact date
- First meeting date
- Next steps
Step #3: What’s Next?
You’ve made and organized your hotlist, so now what? If, after you’ve made your matrix (say, 50-75 prospects), each of these people should have a compelling reason to talk to you. Remember, you are educating and sharing ideas. How many ideas can you “sell”? Multiply this by the number of accounts in your portfolio and you will very quickly understand how many conversations and meetings you are capable of having.
If you have a challenge reaching a listed person, can you rely on people with whom you are already working to provide an introduction? Always remember to leverage those who have benefited from working with you to gain access. Keep in mind that you are sharing an idea and working to get them to agree to take the next step in exploring it. Don’t be discouraged if you fail to gain their interest. Ask your client if you can continue to think about their business and come back to them with new ideas as you develop them. This helps your credibility and allows ideas to “take space” in their thinking.
Far too many sales professionals focus on closing business and only turn their attention to filling the funnel when they are experiencing lower-than-ideal forecasts. This technique will ensure you have a full funnel at all times from which to work. The only limitation is your imagination and creativity.