Is it okay if I use the word "crappy" here? Good.
I've been visiting clients lately working with them on their 2015 sales planning. There are challenges facing them, for sure, but one of the biggest is the salespeople themselves. They’re fooling themselves and distracting themselves—by keeping accounts on their lists that were, are, and continue to be crappy. Pardon my language and my bluntness, but if it gets some attention for my point, it’s worth the risk.
In many cases, these are really talented salespeople whose decisions force them to play in the minor leagues. It makes me crazy. It’s tragic enough that they’re fooling themselves into believing there’s “there” there. But time spent giving attention to these going-nowhere accounts is distracting them from investing in better prospects.
Yes, I know. Good accounts are scarce, and a quarter-loaf may be better than no loaf at all. And wouldn’t it be embarrassing if the salesperson dropped the account and then someone else did a better job with it? These are reasons, but they’re not good reasons. I talk to salespeople every day and I have a great vantage point from which to tell them: You can let crappy accounts go.
So what constitutes a crappy account? (Yes, I'm going to keep using that word).
- They've been on your list for a loooong time and you've been unsuccessful in increasing their spend.
- They want to see your ideas—but they don't want to buy your ideas.
- Yes, they like you, sure, but that fabulous relationship hasn’t ever made a difference.
- They like your core product – but they can’t be bothered to learn more about the other things you sell.
Here are five steps in determining whether you need to fire an account:
- Get a copy of your entire account list.
- Put a "C" beside each account that is a current Customer.
- Put a "P" beside each account that is a Prospect.
- Put a "H" beside each account that you consider to be High priority.
- Put a "L" beside each account that you consider to be a Low priority because the likelihood of getting a great order from them is small.
So every account should end up with a designation of "CH," "CL," "PH," or "PL."
If you have way more names on your list that are in the "CL" and "PL" categories than in the "CH" and "PH" category, you need to do some serious restructuring. Take that leap of faith. Find ways to upsell your "CH" clients and find more “PH” prospects you can take through the sales process.
The only way to focus on those desirable CH and PH accounts is to fire your crappy accounts.
End the self-deception and the self-distraction. Start playing in the majors. Let those crappy accounts go.