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BLOG. 3 min read

What Does Sales Modernization Have to do with National Accounts?

What does sales modernization have to do with National Accounts?

This is a question I asked myself in preparation for our annual National Accounts Roundtable in New York City. Perhaps I should’ve replaced "sales" with "distribution." The reality is both national sales teams and national account teams need to modernize.


While the targeted audience differ (financial advisory practices vs. home office due diligence teams), individuals on both sides of the aisle need to be more efficient and effective at building strong relationships with key decision-makers. Foundational to any modernization effort, distribution teams must:

  • Make data a central component of both bigger picture strategy and day-to-day tactical operations, using it to prioritize distributor and advisor relationships.
  • Take an integrated, multi-channel approach utilizing a dynamic professional buyer engagement model based on segmentation and customer journey mapping.

If a decision is made to go down this path, firms can move forward with the fourth and fifth paradigm shifts for distribution organizations. The following list probably looks familiar from part I and part II of this blog series. For the purposes of this post, I've made a few edits.

We believe that in order remain competitive, distribution organizations need to redefine their approach to several notable paradigms in the sales management process. These include:

  1. Determining who to cover
  2. Defining territories
  3. Managing the territory
  4. Defining roles
  5. Engaging with professional buyers

These paradigm shifts are equally as applicable to the National Accounts organization, but for continuity with my previous blogs, I will return to a more sales-focused explanation of these last two paradigms.

The last two paradigm shifts – defining sales roles and engaging with advisors – have some dependencies. The alignment of sales resources and defined advisor engagement cannot be optimized without taking a data-centric approach to who to cover, defining territories, and managing territories.  If you’d like to draw the parallel path to National Accounts, replace "territory" with "focus firms" …now back to the sales conversation.

  Old Paradigm New Paradigm
Defining Roles More experienced salespeople are in the field (externals); Less experienced salespeople are on the sales desk (internals) Sales roles are aligned with advisor segments, enabling a continuum of sales competencies and sophistication that determines Junior vs. Senior salesperson designations.
Engaging with Professional Buyers Engagement is through in-person visits (externals) or on the phone (internals), with some hybrids who engage via phone and in person. Every salesperson has the skills to engage advisors in every way. Each contact is determined by the situation and the advisors’ phase in the customer journey (win, build, nurture, defend, win back).

The modern approach to sales staffing is based on where the salesperson falls on a talent and skill continuum, and not on where they spend their time (internal v. external) or how they engage with advisors (phone v. in-person).

Bottom line: Everyone within the sales organization is a ‘hybrid’, with some spending more time out of the office than others (some sales reps will not travel at all). In-person visits will be sparse and performed on-demand for only the most important interactions.  Advisor engagement is based on where the advisor sits along the customer journey, and how the advisor prefers to interact. Obviously, technology (segmentation and customer journey mapping), plays a critical role in alignment across the sales/marketing/national accounts teams and the customers they serve.

All salespeople – regardless of their role – need to continually sharpen their consultative and relationship-building skills, while acknowledging that growth in these proficiencies comes with embracing sales enablement technology and tools.   

This redefined, modern distribution organization heavily leverages data and technology, focuses greater attention on training and development (upskilling the sales team to skills beyond relationship building and closing), brings customer experience center stage and experiments with organizational structures, and revamps compensation plans to go after the right advisors – in the most profitable way.

Most firms are already taking steps to modernize – where are you on this journey? 

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