Jane Gentry's Approach
Many organizations have it wrong: They see salespeople as "hunters" who find business, and account managers as “farmers” who tend to the business brought in.
But account managers -- and other support people, like project managers and engineers -- can be powerful business developers, because the extra business they find is low cost, coming from customers the organization already knows.
Jane Gentry trains support staffs on account development. Among other things, she teaches them how to:
- build relationships
- communicate clearly
- hold themselves accountable
- think strategically
By applying these skills, support staffs will be able to do a better support job . . . and they’ll be able to spot added solutions benefiting the customer and organization alike.
When hiring a firm, it's important to consider the philosophy behind their work. Here, then, are some key ideas fueling Jane’s projects:
- Why would an organization invest all the time, money, effort, and worry needed to land a big new account, and then put that relationship in the hands of people who don't have the tools to manage the relationship? Account managers need the right tools.
- What do great salespeople do? They build relationships and look for opportunities to grow the business. Great account managers should be doing the same.
- Account managers should think about customers strategically. That means managers have to find simultaneous wins for customers and their own company.
- The more an account manager understands the customer’s organization, the better they'll be able to solve the customer’s problems in the long-term.
- Account managers need to be trusted advisors and think on behalf of the customer. What does the customer need to succeed? Working together with the customer, what can we create to assure success?
- A relationship doesn’t stop with the sale. A relationship begins with the sale. You need to nurture that relationship so it goes to the next level.
- The relationship is king. Nothing supersedes it.
- Selling skills aren't just for selling. Selling skills are good relationship-building skills, too.
- Forget manipulation. Make a genuine connection.
- Great relationships aren’t an accident. They involve intention and effort, and can happen as a result of process.
- Being first to give in a relationship is a good way of building trust. (That's why "give to get" works so well.)
- Work to be heavier on the 'giver' side of a relationship. By doing so, you probably won’t be heavier. You’ll be closer to equal.
- There's an easy way and a right way to do things. Guess which is a better relationship builder?
- Restoring trust to its original state is almost