In the world of web 2.0 ad social media, we’re so used to hearing the phrase ‘give – and then take’ to describe how you earn the trust and followship – a new word I just coined, such is the bounty of stream of consciousness – before you reap the rewards. Could it be then that account management is really the reverse of that concept?

Winning brand new business is hard, as we know. If you’re not doing your own prospecting, you can only win a percentage of the deals that your customers or your friendly marketing department put in front of you, and in this way you’re not in proper control of your business. Worse, you’re missing out on real revenues that will either be allocated to other projects or scooped up by your competitors, who, don’t forget, may count your customers as their accounts too.

You need to maximize the size of the field you’re already playing in. You need a framework for finding and creating opportunities from the key customers you already work with. It’s not a coincidence that it’s 4 times as easy to sell to a current customer compared to a new one. This is the realm of account management. It puts you in control of your business, and instead of waiting for deals to be put in front of you, you’re putting the deals in front of your customer, and you both win.

This is why in many ways the account management approach is the opposite of the ‘give and then take’ philosophy of social networking. You take what information you can from your existing account, strategise on it, and turn that knowledge into insight you can give to your customer, which they value enough to pay you for.

So when you’re wondering where your sales are going to come from, look at what you sell to your existing companies, do your homework and figure out what else you can sell to them that helps them address the problems they haven’t fixed yet. You’re being proactive and creating something that may not have existed before you put the work in. Creating is everything in sales.

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