Creating new opportunities within accounts may seem daunting. The fact is, it is relatively simple; it’s all about developing and sharing ideas with your contacts while helping their business and personal interests. The problem resides in developing an execution plan. The good news is that there is a simple way of doing this called the “hitlist.” This is of equal importance to those that are leading an account or for new business development professionals. If you follow the steps outlined below you will almost be guaranteed a constant flow of new opportunities.
The hitlist is a list of the influential people in the account including their segment, sector, geo, division, branch, practice, and region. The first step is to list the people within the account that are known to have positions of potential influence or decision responsibility. If you have multiple accounts, you may want to prioritize your accounts to create demand with those that have not provided the potential that you believe is possible. If you do not know the names of the people, list their titles so that you can conduct research to find out who holds these positions. As an example: if you have 10 accounts with 6 key contacts titles per account, you have 60 suspects/prospects that you need to share your ideas with.
Once you have the names and titles, create a matrix or spreadsheet. List the names down the left-hand column, and place the following at the top of the rows going from left to right:
- Business challenge
- Personal Agenda (what they want to accomplish in their current role on a personal level)
- Your idea related to how you can help them
- What is your message to gain their interest?
- First contact date
- First meeting date
- Next steps
Imagine if you have listed 50 – 75 people. Each of these people should have a compelling reason to talk with you. Remember, you are educating and sharing ideas. How many ideas can you “sell?” Multiply this by the number of accounts in your portfolio and you will very quickly understand how many conversations and meetings you are capable of having.
If you have a challenge reaching a listed person, can you rely on people that you are already working with to provide you with an introduction? Always remember to leverage people that have benefited from working with you to gain access. Keep in mind that you are sharing an idea and working to get them to agree to take the next step in exploring it. Don’t be discouraged if you fail to gain their interest. Ask your client if you can continue to think about their business and come back to them with new ideas as you develop them. This helps your credibility and allows ideas to “take space” in their thinking.
Far too many sales professionals focus on closing business and only turn their attention to filling the funnel when they are experiencing lower than ideal forecasts. This technique will ensure that you have a full funnel to work from at all times. The only limitation is your imagination and creativity.
Review your account and create a simple spreadsheet with the titles listed in the article. Consider all of the different parts of the account and list the people/titles that may have an interest in the products and services that your company offers. Work to complete a “hitlist” where you match the people with the various ideas that you can generate. This may involve a brainstorming activity with the people representing the account team. Once you’ve completed the exercise, begin the implementation and work to fill your funnel with new opportunities.