Man on phone sellingAs they look forward to a new year, most organizations have big eyes for growth, and they expect a lot of that growth to come through the sales force. The question is: what should organizations focus on to achieve said growth?

For the Top-Performing Sales Organization Benchmark Report, the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research studied what the Top-Performing Sales Organizations—companies that have higher win rates, meet their annual sales goal, have challenging sales goals, and achieve premium prices—do differently than the rest.

Based on these factors, we bucketed respondents into 3 performer groups:

  • Elite Performers, representing the top 7% of respondents
  • Top Performers, representing the top 20%
  • The Rest, representing the remaining 80%

It’s worthwhile to note that though there were slight variations among industry groups and company sizes, their performance, win rates, and scores across categories were similar. Our findings are applicable to organizations of all sizes.

So whether you have 10 sellers or 10,000, Top Performance is an achievable goal.

In this study, we compared 72 factors across 8 categories to find out, among other things, what most separates Top Performers from The Rest.

As it turns out, there are quite a few things, ranging from sales training investment to company culture to sales management effectiveness.

But what’s the number one skill difference? What’s one area where sellers from organizations of all sizes can take ownership to see the biggest gains in the next year? Maximizing sales to existing accounts.

When we asked respondents to agree or disagree with the following statement, “Our sales organization is effective at maximizing sales to existing clients, 61% of Top Performers agreed. Only 32% of The Rest agreed. That’s a huge gap.

It’s 5 to 7 times less expensive, and more profitable, to build additional business with existing accounts than it is to acquire new ones. Based on our research, we now know that organizations that are effective at strategic account management and growth do, indeed, enjoy stronger business results than those who don’t.

If you want to grow your existing accounts and look more like a Top Performer, it starts with having the skills to do so. We studied factors that were more applicable and available to large businesses, but this is something that even the smallest organizations can do.

We also asked research participants to let us know whether they believed the people in their organization had the skills they needed to succeed in various areas. The Elite and Top Performers had significantly higher ratings when it came to skills related to driving account growth.

Sellers Have the Skills They Need to Find and Win Business Consistently and at a High Level

driving account growth

Only 43% of the people in the organizations we labeled The Rest had the skills they needed to drive account growth. If only 4 in 10 sellers have this skill, it’s no wonder it doesn’t happen.

So what gives? If there’s so much potential to sell to existing accounts, why don’t these sellers have the skills they need to drive growth? The answer isn’t all that surprising. When we asked about sales training effectiveness, only 13% of The Rest agreed they had effective training related to driving account growth.

Sales Training Effectiveness for Skills and Knowledge Areas

driving account growth 2

If sellers don’t have the skills necessary for growing accounts, and aren’t being given effective training, they can’t do it.

Three takeaways for entrepreneurs:

  • Build trust: Growing strategic accounts requires strong relationships and deep trust. For a buyer, the promise of working with a small business is increased attention and focus from leadership. Unfortunately, many don’t deliver on this promise. If you do, you have an advantage greater than any other.
  • Grow your skills: You don’t need to be in a big business to get strategic account management training. Heck, you don’t even need to leave your desk. You just need to take the initiative.
  • Give to gain: Sometimes it takes a village. If you can see a way to add value that you don’t do in your own business, bring in other entrepreneurs who can fill the gap. Your clients will trust you even more, and your entrepreneur friends might just return the favor.

If you want to start driving account growth for yourself and for your team, download the free white paper 5 Keys to Maximizing Sales with Existing Accounts.