By Guy Aston, Mid-Market Business Director, Huthwaite International

Not really, but the title does have some connection with the content insomuch as this article is going to talk about your accounts Strength and Attractiveness factors.

I am sure you look at your accounts each year and try to prioritise where your organisation, or perhaps just you, will put your precious resource the coming sales year. This is a tough call. Spread your resources too thinly and you fall short, focus too much into a narrow band of accounts and again you could well fall short of revenue. Here is one way of attempting to determine sales resource allocation.

Firstly, ask yourself just what it is that makes an account Attractive to your organisation. It may be the sector they are in, the business potential or maybe simply the company fits into your strategic plans. Perhaps the account is typical of those where you always do really well. There can be a number of reasons and a quick brainstorm may well produce a good number of Attractiveness criteria. Some may be more impactful than others so you may want to give each a weighting, say 1 to 5. The next stage is to rate each criterion for a given account, perhaps scoring each on a 1 to 10 scale. Multiply the rating by the score, giving you a maximum score of 50 for each criterion. Add up the total of all criteria and translate the actual score into a percentage of the maximum possible score. You may be embarrassed to find that you don't have some of the information required! If so, then there's an item for the action list.

The next factor to consider is that of Strength, by which we mean any advantage you may have in an account. For example, a good customer contact of yours may have just been employed by the account so you automatically have a sponsor. Perhaps you have completed a successful project with a sister company to the account? It could be as simple as you having a really first rate reputation in the account. Can you think of any other factors? Again, list your criteria and rate your accounts against them just as you did previously with the Attractiveness criteria.

At this point you should have:

1. A percentage score for Attractiveness

2. A percentage score for Strength

What we need to do next is simply plot these on a graph with an Attractiveness axis and a Strength axis. What does this tell us? Well, the ones that should draw your attention are those at the top, right-hand corner of the graph because any account in this position is a desirable target according to your Attractiveness rating. What is more, the account should be an easier sale than many because you have rated your position of strength very highly. Such accounts deserve your focused attention. If you find there are simply too many accounts in the top, right corner for the given resources you have, you may need to toughen up on either your criteria or your ratings and weightings. Are you being overly generous with your scoring? This exercise does need hard reality applying to it, so it can be useful to involve colleagues in the process.

What of the accounts that were lower in terms of Strength and Attractiveness? This all depends on your organisation’s structure and processes, but you may hand these lower-level accounts to teleselling or just keep in occasional general contact with them.

If an account is very high on Attractiveness but low on Strength, you may want to review it to see if there is an entry strategy that might work for you, but do not expect quick results, as you will need to establish your organisation's credibility over time.

The application of this logic and process might help lubricate the revenue flows going forward… and avoid running yourself ragged! You (and your sales force) have limited resource. You can probably calculate the average resource required to win a major piece of business, along with the resource to maintain the relationship. You will also know your revenue targets, so the trick is the diligent application of resource to maximise on revenue. I hope the foregoing helps focus that resource.

For more information on Huthwaite services visit www.huthwaite.co.uk

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