Nick Wilson has held sales and P&L executive roles at IBM, Unisys, CSC, HPE and DXC, before joining Micro Focus, an enterprise software company with $3Bn in revenues, where he had responsibility for sales, renewals, marketing, consulting and customer success. Here he shares some lessons learned from being involved in a number of strategic account programmes. Micro Focus has subsequently been acquired by OpenText.
Select your accounts carefully
The most successful account programmes are those where 80-90% of customers are existing high spenders, but it’s also worth having at least 10% that have potential to be the next big accounts. Choose these accounts using predictive insight and input from sales, marketing and customer success teams.
Don’t scale too fast
When you launch a strategic account programme, you often see growth over and above what you’d expect, but don’t start scaling up too soon. In my experience, over expansion ends in unmitigated disaster. You really need to be disciplined about selecting the most important accounts and invest in them properly, not spread your resources too thinly.
Include your customer
It will strengthen your relationship if you let your customer know they are in the programme, the criteria that put them there and what benefits they will get, such as priority access to resources and insights into product roadmaps. Customers want input into where you are going with products and services, and they want to see a direct result of that input.
Support your top team
You need the most experienced people on your strategic accounts. This is an elite group so these senior roles need to be properly supported and portrayed as just as important as other senior roles in the company. And it’s critical to be tightly organised as the customer wants a consistent and joined-up approach where they feel you are bringing the best of the company to bear on their challenges.
Read Nick Wilson’s full Viewpoint in Account-Based Growth by Bev Burgess and Tim Shercliff, published by Kogan Page.