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Effective account management comes down to three key skills: asking, pre-call planning, and demonstrating empathy.


You have several good clients. However, you know those good clients are purchasing a few lines of business from your competitor.

You know you offer a better product and service after the sale. So why haven’t they moved those lines of business to you?

There are three main reasons for account stagnation:

  1. You haven’t asked:

    Or if you did ask, it was pitiful. “You wouldn’t consider…..”

    Your self-talk about the existing vendor has turned into a full blown fiction novel.

    And when you say something to yourself repeatedly, fiction becomes truth.

    “They’ve been with X, Y, Z company for ten years…they’ll never move. They don’t want to put all their eggs into one basket.”

    Give your client an opportunity to tell you no! Ask and you will receive an answer based on fact, not fiction.

  2. Lack of pre-call planning:

    If you are going to unseat the incumbent, you do research and learn the incumbent’s areas of strength and weakness.

    Once you are equipped with that knowledge, you are equipped to design value propositions that expose a gap in their offerings, without ever mentioning their name.

    For example, if you offer a dedicated customer service for your clients, the value proposition might sound like. “Joe, a lot of our clients are moving XYZ line of business to us because of our ability to offer a dedicated customer service rep. They’re tired of wasting time re-educating the rep every time they call in with a need or concern.”     

  3. Lack of empathy:

    Change in business is hard, for a variety of reasons. Relationships are important, so even when the existing vendor is screwing up, people can be reluctant to change due to a personal connection.

    Then there is the hassle factor of change. Your customer is busy and the perceived (key word) pain of change can appear greater than the current pain of mediocrity by the current provider.

    Empathetic salespeople know how to ‘walk a mile’ in their prospects shoes. They put on the customer hat and address  change issues up front.

    “Jeremy, if I were you, I would be concerned about…should we talk about that?”

Ask, plan, and demonstrate empathy. The combination of these skills will change your position from account stagnation to effective account management.

About the author

Colleen Stanley

Colleen Stanley

Colleen Stanley is president of SalesLeadership Inc., a business development consulting firm specializing in…

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