The Sales 2.0 Gift Horse

A story from my consulting work.

I thought it would be a good idea for my client to see if they could sell more to their existing top accounts (I’m quite the strategist you will note.) The first step to doing this was to get a list of those top accounts.

After playing with the client’s accounting software for a fun few hours I managed to get a list of their top 100 accounts by revenue for the last year. Opening this list I thought I’d take a look at how their sales coverage was on account number one. What had they done to sell more to this top account?

I was working a hypothesis that my client’s sales people were mostly selling their main products not all their products. I thought there might be room to boost revenue by selling more to their strongest existing clients.

I jumped into the client’s CRM system to see what notes lay in there. Which contacts in this top account had been spoken to; met with; and what other activities had been completed?

One thing I found in the CRM system was the name of this account’s head of marketing.

So then my habits kicked in. I typed this head of marketing’s name into Linkedin. But he was hard to find. I typed in his name and the name of this account into Linkedin’s search function. I did not find him. Then I searched by the account’s name and the word “marketing”. He did not come up. So then I searched Linkedin by only the account’s name and waded through pages of employee profiles.

Still the name of this head of marketing did not come up.

Finally I just typed his name into Linkedin (without the account name) and got a bunch of profiles (luckily his name was not “John Jones” but it was not that unique either). After a lot more time wading through profiles I finally found him.

You may have guessed by now…he was no longer at the company per his Linkedin profile! He had left a year ago.

So next I typed in just the title “VP Marketing” and the account’s name into Linkedin and came up with two people – one who literally had the title “VP Marketing”. I like to cross check such findings. So I looked this guy up in Insideview and found that he was also listed there as the VP Marketing for this company.

Admittedly this was on odd situation where the sales person did not know who a key contact was in such a key account. The account had changed hands as a sales person had left. The new sales person had been told by someone at the company who they should talk to. But that person was not the head of marketing – more of a gatekeeper. And the sales person (here’s the key) never investigated any further. Even though they could have found out in 15 minutes by searching Linkedin, Insideview or Jigsaw – like I did.

I admit I’m a crazy fan boy of Sales 2.0 tools like Linkedin, Insideview or Jigsaw. But as this story illustrates these are valuable tools. These tools are massive repositories of information on companies and they are available right from your desktop. They are very low cost or often free. But the information you can get from them could make a huge difference in your commissions.

Not using them to cross-check/update account information seems like looking a gift horse in the mouth to me. What do you think?

3 Responses to The Sales 2.0 Gift Horse

  1. Ralph Fabre October 29, 2012 at 8:13 am #


    Existing clients are always worth the extra attention because they are already your customers. If you don’t have a retention campaign, you can be poached unless you are Apple Inc. Apple’s retention campaign is quality and innovation. What’s yours?

    Being a one trick pony is risky. Your client needs to view you as a strategic partner, not just a vendor. You need to give them more than one reason to keep doing business with you unless you are an approved monopoly like a utility.

    I was trying to track down a CEO of a major, major corporation that had zero footprints on the internet. It was quite odd since he was in his early forties but I did find him through an intermediary and that, my good amigos, is the indirect approach but it’s a bit tricky to maneuver because it has a high failure rate unless you have mojo baby. If you don’t have it, get it or get out!

    If you can’t get to your person directly get to them indirectly. The indirect or channel approach is to find someone that knows or should know this information like an executive assistant or another executive who is published that might be interested in forwarding your message. Your job is to figure out who and why they should be willing to do this.

    There are rules… are 3 of them FREE for the uninitiated (credits to my buddy Chris F.)

    A. Place a clue about the message you are sending in the subject line (the more important the executive the more email they will have in their inbox 100-300 messages a day)

    B. Aim before you shoot. Have the right message considering the person who will be receiving it. Make the connections first. You do not get many 2nd chances at the upper levels.

    C. You need to make it easy for that person (helper) to forward your message effortlessly. So write the forwarding paragraph for them as if they were sending it.

    In my case, it was a new CEO and there was very little dated information as Nigel pointed out with his “Gift Horse”.

    Sales people: Be considerate. Think about a client’s business and how you might help before you launch.

    Marketing people: Pay attention to the challenge trends. Problems tend to travel in schools, like fish……



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