An amazing illustration of quantifiable relationships fueling the slope or gradient of an organization’s growth is what an individual sales rep at one of our client companies has achieved in the past year. Sandy, starting as a brand-new sales rep a year ago in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, was handed 10 named accounts that had fallen off of the corporate radar and had collectively produced $2M in revenue all of the preceding year. In the current fiscal year, exactly 11 months after she joined the company, she has produced in excess of $30M from the same set of accounts! That’s what we call unprecedented growth. And she did it through a unique return on her strategic relationships.
Transform the Culture
So, how? Well, let me give you a brief backstory: The client is a Fortune 100 company in a very mature business with $100B+ in annual revenues. My client is a new division president brought in to transform the culture. He has replaced 50 percent of the 2,000-person sales force with a newly focused profile of ideal sales professional—one who unequivocally understands and is an advocate of the end client’s business. From the outset, he was determined to support his relationship quarterbacks in the field and develop a distribution channel–friendly environment where the most trusted adviser in the field would lead each prospective client engagement.
Establish Deep Relationships
In the first half of the year, I worked with Sandy, who had been a very successful sales rep and manager in her previous positions, to reinvigorate the 10 accounts she was given. We identified which accounts had a heartbeat—that is, clients who were still speaking with the company but not buying anything—and then we identified where she could get an introduction into the C- or V-suite via some of the former account managers.
What Sandy quickly realized was that the former account managers either were not aware or simply didn’t have any relationships in lower levels of the organizations, what we began to define as key centers of influence. To her credit, Sandy invested the first six months of the year gaining village knowledge and mapping relationships of key influencers in various pockets of her client companies.
Identify Pivotal Contacts
She methodically used some of our tools and prioritized what I describe as pivotal contacts, that is, relationships within her own organization and at her client companies that would be critical to her success. She clearly understood that her prospects were not these neat, segmented buckets, but rather a web of relationships.
In the second half of the year, she identified, prioritized, and invested in these centers of influence—jointly solving problems and identifying distribution channel partners who could add significant value to the equation. She saw that client titles were irrelevant—one of her biggest champions, who doesn’t have a title on his business card, happens to report directly to the chief executive officer (CEO)/chairman! Sandy began to win competitive opportunities and marshaled her corporate resources to accelerate her ability to execute.
Want examples of results from investing in strategic relationships? In 11 months, Sandy was able to generate a total of $30M in top-line revenue from 8 of the 10 accounts, $20M coming from one account alone!