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I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, writing about, speaking about, and working on how to move from a transactional, low value-creating salesperson to a business acumen-possessing, level four value-creating strategic partner. I have done so with good reason, too: these disruptive times we live in require nothing less if you are to succeed in business-to-business sales.

But it’s important that you know where and when to invest the effort in crossing the bridge from transactional into something more. Some accounts are never going to be more than transactional, and they should be treated as such.

Forever Transactional

There are some clients you will acquire that won’t need you to be anything more than transactional. They will use so little of what you sell that there will be no way for you to create more value than simply providing them the product, service, or solution that you sell. Some may benefit from the excellent experience that you provide, including support, services, and some relationship with your brand. But, they won’t use what you sell at a level that makes it a strategic purchase for them.

Because what you sell isn’t strategic for them, it isn’t strategic for you. These clients may be forever transactional, and that’s okay.

Nothing Less Than Your Best

A transactional client will necessarily command less of your time, your energy, and your attention. Some salespeople—and sales organizations—believe that need to treat every client the same. They believe that they need to give them their best. This is a mistake; the value creation needs to match the client’s needs.

Your transactional client doesn’t need the same things that a strategic client needs. They don’t need the same attention. They don’t need quarterly business reviews. They don’t need a lot of the same services that create value for your strategic clients—those services provide them no benefit.

This isn’t to say that they should be treated poorly, just that the additional investment in time and energy doesn’t produce any greater result for either you or your client. Your transactional clients depend on you to perform for them. They still require that you provide them with the product or service that you sell. They still require that you meet their needs, whether it’s outcomes as basic as delivery time or quality. And they still require that you care about them.

You still have to give your transactional clients your transactional best.

The Reason Why

Treating your transactional clients as more than transactional doesn’t benefit them. But it does harm you as a salesperson (and perhaps your sales organization). By investing time working on moving up the value creation ladder with transactional clients, you are spending time where no result can be produced. This means that you aren’t spending time where value can be created, most probably from your prospecting and nurturing efforts, as well as the difficult task of being more for your strategic clients.

This mismatched value creation is harmful to your sales results. The key is to match the value creation needs of you and your client.


Are all clients created equal? Do they have the same needs from you as their salesperson?

What client demands require that you move from transactional to strategic?

What client needs suggest that your client needs to be given your best effort as it pertains to your transactional clients?

What problems does treating strategic clients like they are transactional client create?

What problems does treating transactional clients like they are strategic create?

Sales 2011
Post by Anthony Iannarino on November 6, 2011

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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