I actually started with a heading of “prospecting for growth and retention based on value and relevance” but prospecting is ultimately about pipeline growth.
Though when I do think about prospecting, I think about four fundamental steps:
Segmenting a territory can draw upon and use a variety of approaches, tools and experiences. That’s in addition to historical territory ownership and sales success into a particular territory or account.
We can even move the thinking above segmentation to an overall business strategy into the territory under which you will have specific account strategies. Once again, there are numerous models that can help you build out your strategy, such as Porter’s Five Forces.
Also, from a segmentation perspective, there are any number of heat map configurations to use and some more sophisticated models such as the approach offered in “The Granularity of Growth”. This model invites accounts in the territory to be compared relative to market indices and shareholder return. As a way of building an objective and repeatable view of a territory (or multiple territories for a sales manager), I like its simplicity and fact-based categorisation.
Any of these approaches will work and you will find they deliver a wonderful governance framework that serves an element of success in growing your business but the overwhelming value is in the governance of a territory and a seller’s effectiveness.
An alternate and profoundly more effective way to segment a territory and pathways into an account is to centre all activity associated with understanding what business value actually looks like in the eyes of the buyer, their customers and shareholders. By focusing on business value, you will permanently have a finger on the pulse of what matters most to your prospect.
This is an uncommon approach amongst sellers due to the potentially broad range encompassed by “business value” but my model captures all prospecting activities under my ability to impact:
- Financial ratios.
- Operational ratios.
- Leveraging existing investments.
- Making new investments.
This approach works and should be the dominant approach, especially for:
- People new to selling as you are rewarded for understanding the customer at a level at which they would communicate internally.
- Tech savvy sellers with a deep understanding of the product or solution but lacking the confidence to go up against experienced sellers.
- Business consultants wanting to move to a selling role but arrive with a jaundiced view of the existing wash of sales methodologies.
- Anybody looking to sell a product or service by establishing their value to the prospect up front through investing the time to translate the value of the product or service in solving a business problem that you have identified and can measure the benefit to the buyer in solving.
Relationships can be simplified as those you need to keep and those you need to make. Put around the other way though, it becomes the prospect determining which relationships they need to keep and they need to make. It is a certainty that their decisions will be based upon a seller’s ability to deliver business value so why wouldn’t you as a seller approach and sustain your engagement built on the very thing that matters most of them, business value.
Your relevance, or more particularly your unique business relevance, has four levers:
- Incumbents - who could be competitors and/or partners to you.
- Existing contracts and agreements with particular reference to their duration and conclusion dates.
- Business assets that you can deliver such as CRM and cloud platforms.
- Strategic assets which are products or solutions that help deliver customer satisfaction, customer service and a difficult for your prospects competitors to replicate.
This becomes a powerful cycle that links segmentation, business value, relationships and consolidates with you having established your unique business relevance to a prospect. If that isn’t the outcome, you have been able to segment your territory based on an ability to deliver business value and avoided creating a territory on some arbitrary measures that mean little to your prospects.