As a CEO, how often do you visit your Strategic Accounts?
Here is an example of what can happen.
There is a program on Bravo TV called “Suits”.
It is about a fictional NYC law firm that works mostly with corporate clients.
(Quick aside – it is actually filmed in Toronto, my home city. And one of its stars is Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s girlfriend. It is a fun show to watch).
And there was a great lesson from a recent episode that every B2B company needs to heed.
In this episode, the two managing partners were to do a presentation to the CEO of one of their biggest corporate clients.
The presentation was to be about how the law firm had helped the company in the past year, and learn what the company was doing for next year. (a practice not enough B2B companies do with their clients)
However, one of the managing partners could not make the presentation because of another pressing issue.
So the managing partner, giving the presentation, decided to bring two junior partners, who were women, to the presentation. I mention they were women because the CEO of this corporate client is a woman.
The managing partner then put these two junior partners in charge of the presentation, how it would be presented, etc.
The two junior partners found out that the CEO loved different foods, and was also a bit of an amateur chef.
So they brought in a master chef to cook the lunch for the meeting, in their desire to show the CEO that they knew something about her personally. This is actually a good idea, most of the time.
They did not show the presentation during the episode, but only the main characters talking about it afterward.
The two junior partners thought the entire presentation went well.
However, the managing partner, that was delivering the presentation, found out right after the presentation that the CEO was cancelling its contract with that law firm, feeling that the other managing partner didn’t think her company was worthwhile enough for him to show up.
So then, what are the lessons to be learned here.
The Good Ideas
1. It is a great idea (it should be a no-brainer) to present to the senior executives of all of your Strategic Accounts, at least once a year, all of the benefits you have brought that company in the past year.
2. It also is a good idea to have a catered formal meal, so that you can have some personal time with that CEO, and all of the people who are there, but this should be confirmed beforehand.
3. It is also a good idea to do the presentation in your office, so that the CEO isn’t dragged out for some trivial matter.
4. It is also a good idea to have some other people in your company at the presentation, who are connected to the account.
Why This Presentation Failed
1. The law firm didn’t really understand this CEO. They should have confirmed beforehand, what was important to this CEO, and who she wanted present, and why. They could have obtained this information directly from her, but certainly from her EA, and others at their law firm, as well as from people at the CEO’s company.
2. If the other managing partner couldn’t make it for the presentation, the law firm should have informed the CEO about this, to see if there was another time that suited all parties.
3. Although the idea of presenting at least once a year to the senior people at your Strategic Accounts is a must, you need to understand your account’s culture, and how they want to proceed.
4. You need to understand what your Strategic Account’s goals are for the coming year, and let them know some of the issues they will run up against trying to achieve these goals. I am speculating they didn’t really present a lot of the value they had brought that company over the past year. This is a key for any B2B business with their Strategic Accounts in particular.
5. Ensure that you do these three details before you drag the senior executives to a presentation.
a. Understand what they want to know and hear.
b. Know who they want present and why. Tell them beforehand who you are bringing to the presentation and why.
c. Ask them how much time they have and if you can have a catered lunch following the presentation.
There are a few conclusions that should be drawn from this episode for all B2B companies.
1. You should know the business of your Strategic Accounts almost better than you know your own business. After all, they are your biggest assets.
2. You need to treat them as well, or sometimes even better than, a spouse. After all, somebody in your company probably spends more time with them than their spouse. (But certainly don’t ignore your spouse, or you’re in really big trouble 😉 )
3. You should understand how and why all of your Strategic Accounts buy, and always be trying to sell them more, even if you only have one product or service.
4. Once you do fully understand how and why all of your Strategic Accounts buy, only then should you start going after new accounts, because then you know exactly the types of companies that buy from you, and will be your best clients.
5. Every Strategic Account should have a Strategic Account Manager (SAM) so that the account has a strategic point of contact.
My Coaching Programs
In my coaching and training programs, I teach all of your client-facing people how to manage and grow your company’s clients, including how to know when a client should become strategic, and how to work with them towards that goal.
The most important thing, I teach and coach, is how to build relationships within each Strategic Account, for each person in your company that deals with that account.
All of my clients see a 25% to 100% increase in revenues in one year, over and above their forecasts.
If you want to grow your business the right way, please contact me through my email in my signature below.
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