It's not easy to reach your goals, hit your targets, and make your quota. Many B2B sales organizations and salespeople believe that selling is more difficult now than in the past, with contacts abandoning conversations early in the process, clients requiring longer sales cycles, and large groups of stakeholders struggling to reach consensus on change. This is especially challenging with larger revenue opportunities, and when your goals are measured in revenue (or revenue growth), bigger clients typically contribute more than smaller clients.

The first problem I encountered as a sales leader was growing the business, which meant creating greater revenue. As I tried to solve the problem of revenue growth, I studied my company's clients, searching for an answer. Specifically, I measured our client list against the clients I had acquired working for a 4B company in Los Angeles, where we targeted the largest of clients. In LA, my manager and I had won very large deals, increasing the company’s revenue by ten times in a year. But back in Columbus, we had many small clients and only two slightly larger clients.

The size of the clients you pursue and win reflects your effectiveness. The salesperson who can create and win new opportunities from large clients can create greater value for their contacts in the sales conversation, while a salesperson who can only serve small clients often lacks the ability to provide the right experience and conversation to win larger deals.

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Why You Want Large Clients

Some sales reps tend to give up on large prospective clients without even trying, even when those clients spend in a lot in their category, simply because they already have an existing supplier. Other reps think they must cut the client's costs to create an opportunity, an approach that only seems to work on companies already struggling to make money and prone to demanding more than they can afford. A desperate salesperson and a desperate client will find each other and make each other miserable, at least until one of them fires the other.

Fortunately, not every large client is a nightmare: many of them have attributes that make them extremely attractive, even if they already have an existing partner. A company that spends a large amount on whatever you sell is almost certain to have a strategic need, making what you sell important to their leaders. Because what you sell is strategically important to the large client, you have a much better chance of commanding the attention of their decision-makers and decision-shapers.

Conversely, a prospective client that buys little of whatever you sell will not prioritize your product as much as a large buyer might. Accordingly, they can easily find an alternative supplier, even if they might have to pay a little more. Since they spend little money in your category, while they might not like paying a competitor ten percent more than you charge, it isn't a major problem.

Larger Clients and Larger Improvements

The more a client prioritizes and buys a given product, the more opportunities there are to improve their results. Specifically, a long-term relationship with your competitor probably means the client has already seen the competitor’s best work, increasing the risk of complacency and a sense of entitlement. Under the spell of those twin sirens, your competitor may have allowed problems to persist longer than they would have earlier in the relationship, believing the only protection they need is a contract.

Over time, large clients seek out greater improvement in certain outcomes, which means they do different math than a small client.  Choosing an alternative (even a cheaper one) comes with greater risk, including your ability to deliver better outcomes. The recognition that they need better outcomes in the area you can help them improve is often compelling enough to make you relevant. Larger clients need larger improvements—and more effective salespeople.

The Impact of Sales Effectiveness on Large Clients

Salespeople who lack effectiveness will find larger clients difficult to pursue, as their approach and the experience isn't valuable enough to command the client's attention. The decision-makers and stakeholders at a large client will expect that the salesperson they are meeting with is an industry expert, one who can help them understand how to improve their results, offering them advice and recommendations outside of “buy my solution from my company." The salesperson with a high level of effectiveness will be consultative, providing an approach and an experience that positions them as the client's future partner.

Lacking the effectiveness to call on large clients, weaker salespeople work their way down to smaller clients who demand less of them. While this can improve their win rate, it makes it more difficult to hit their sales targets because their deals are too small, with many clients taking the same time to acquire as a larger client.

Increasing Your Effectiveness

Sales is broken: the legacy approach no longer creates the requisite value clients need from a salesperson, since its completely commoditized processes (especially discovery) have long since run their course over the past half-century. As a result, clients regularly complain about being pushed towards the salesperson's agenda, so as much as they can, they pursue their buyer's journey on their own.

Fixing broken sales is largely a matter of updating your approach to one designed to create greater value for your clients, a process that starts with learning what decision-makers both expect and need from you. Take some of the time you would otherwise spend pursuing smaller deals and invest it in increasing your competency and targeting larger, more meaningful clients, the ones that will also gain the most from your newly honed ability to improve their results.

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Post by Anthony Iannarino on January 17, 2022
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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