How to Look For Competitive Advantages In Your Strategic/Global Key Accounts

We were recently working with a customer who had assigned global, strategic accounts to their sales team. This customer doesn’t need to re-select accounts, or use high social proximity and relationship strengthening to find new accounts. They already knew who they wanted to target. Their challenge was that they wanted to reprioritize those accounts to look for competitive advantages that would help them increase results.

They needed to identify: 

• Which accounts were green flags, or have a symmetrical advantage?
• Which accounts were yellow flags, meaning they were neutral? These accounts mean you have no more strength than your competitors.
•Which accounts were red flags, meaning you have symmetrical competitive disadvantages?

To look for competitive advantages, you need to cross-reference the accounts you want to win with the accounts you’ve already won. 

Here’s how.

Step 1. Build a list of all your active customers in a specific market. These are the accounts you’ve been trying to win, or you’ve been targeting over the last 24 months.

Step 2. Plug these names into LinkedIn under “Past Company.” This allows you to look for people who no longer work at those companies.

Step 3. Build a company list of those accounts you want to win, and place them into the “Current Company” box in LinkedIn, and hit Search. This will do a cross-reference, and take a look at anyone who has left your customer base, and who has moved to positions within the account you want to win.

If the data set is too large, you can narrow your search by plugging in the titles of key decision makers, geographic region, and frequency of when they may have joined the organization. You’ll start to understand which accounts are highly green-flagged, and may be surprised to learn that some of the people who used to work at your customers now work at companies you can leverage. On the flipside, you’ll also learn which accounts you don’t have relationship strength with and can deprioritize.


Four Specific -Use Cases of Companies That Are Using Linkedin Point Drive

If you were to ask the average sales leader and professional why they use LinkedIn Sales Navigator, most would say they like the advanced functions, account management, and being able to socially surround their customers. But they—and you—may not realize you also have a free and available license for an extremely valuable tool called LinkedIn Point Drive.

LinkedIn Point Drive is a media-rich communicator with two major value propositions:

1. It allows you to track buying intent.
2. It allows you to back the buying committee.

There are very few tools in the world that give this power to the sales professional. With LinkedIn Point Drive, sales pros can identify who’s interested, who’s not, and indicate which people in an organization they should get to know.

Here are four use cases in which you can consider using LinkedIn Point Drive:

1. TAM -Total Addressable Market (Mapping a Market)

Inside sales pros (BDRs, SDRs, and LDRs) use LinkedIn Point Drive at the top of the funnel. They might be targeting a certain industry or an entire geographic region. But even if they’ve been assigned lists or named accounts, or have inbound leads from marketing, in reality they often don’t have any direction on which accounts they should prioritize, or which accounts have buying high intent. 

This is where LinkedIn Point Drive comes in. The inside sales pros will build sales plays that teach new market best practices, introduce new product ideas, or talk about a new upcoming event. They then use LinkedIn Point Drive to send this out to hundreds of marketers, and, monitoring the insights they get from LinkedIn Point Drive, they can determine which accounts are watching and consuming so they can stack rank which accounts to target.

2. Qualify Account Priorities

When an account executive finishes a discovery call, they often wrap up the call with the key stakeholder expressing interest, and requesting further information that they can share with their team to get traction on the idea.

The next 48 hours are critical. You want to know how serious this buyer is. They are your champion—how serious are they? Will they go to bat for you?

LinkedIn Point Drive can be invaluable in this case. You can create a LinkedIn Point Drive that summarizes everything you’ve learned, and upload all the requested information there. You talk openly about this on the discovery call, and say that you’re going to share the information they have requested so they can have their internal conversations via LinkedIn Point Drive.

Watch the next 48 hours. If those champions actually go to the drive you’ve set up, and share with their team, you know you’ve got a champion who wants to make change. But if they don’t open up that point drive for weeks, you’ll get a sense of where your solution sits in their priority stack.                                                         

3. Overcoming the Dead Zone

An old marketing adage states that companies go through three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. But the reality is people don’t go through those stages. In reality, people are trying to absorb your information—and often have learning challenges with it.

There are three common learning challenges that come up when people are deciding whether to go with your solution:

a) Those who are happy with the status quo;
b) Those who are struggling to understand how what you do correlates to value; and
c) Those who feel your solution is so easy that they can do it themselves. These people are thinking, why do I need you?

For those who are stuck on status quo or struggling to understand the value of your solution, you can build linear process maps – which we like to call the “yellow brick road,” to show in a clear and linear way how you can help them.

You can also build more complex learning paths for those who think it’s easy, which we call the “mental pretzel.” These learning paths help them understand that one decision they make can have a cascading effect, which can affect 5-10 other things that are much more macro. It also reminds them that if they don’t take it seriously, they’re just checking a box and it has consequences.

You can use LinkedIn Point Drive to nurture these buyers and to discover who else would be interested in the information you’re sharing.

4. Key Stakeholder Approval

Here at Sales For Life, all statements of work and proposals are placed in the LinkedIn Point Drive. Why? We want to ensure that key stakeholders consume the right information.

For most deals, we know the deal will be signed by the CFO or negotiated by Procurement, and then reviewed by Legal. And if our information hasn’t made its way into all of their hands, we know the deal has stalled.

I’ve heard a million stories of people saying “Yes, we’re reviewing your proposals,” “Yes, we’re reviewing your contract,” when this is not true.

So we use LinkedIn Point Drive to validate that information, and help us understand if our key stakeholders are taking the proper steps to move those deals forward.


Pipeline Creation – There’s No App for That

Yesterday I was on a call with a client of ours, who is one of our C-level executive champions.  He received a call from a sales leader from one of their divisions and asked an interesting question. He said:

We’re having issues with sales pipeline right now. Our sales force is getting younger and younger, and they just don’t want to pick up the phone. I see that (our CRM) has really been exploding with apps in their AppExchange.  Is there an app that can help?

My champion, a baby-boomer 30-year executive who has been a CEO and CRO at multiple global companies – was on a video call when telling me this story. He actually rubbed his face with exacerbation and couldn’t believe what he had heard. You could see both frustration and humor in his face. I didn’t know if he was going to laugh or explode.

You’re probably laughing in silence at this story, but you know there is a dash of truth and irony in this story. Yes, global salesforces are getting younger, and their communication media and methods are different than my generation (I’m a GenX born in 1978 who didn’t have my first cell phone until I was 25!). But, there’s no app for pipeline creation—just like  there is no app to shovel your driveway. Yes there are tools (apps are tools) to potentially accelerate the shovelling process, but input of action = output of results.  You can look out the window all you want in a snowstorm and wish the snow away, but nothing is getting rid of that snow unless you take action.

No app for pipeline

Apps, and all sales acceleration tools, are tools.  You even hear marines in the military call their rifles “tools”, because they accelerate a process, not the process itself.  There is a great new sales tool evaluation company called Vendor Neutral that reviews all of the hundreds  of sales tools. You could spend a lifetime evaluating these tools, and hyper-accelerate (in the wrong way), your Cost of Customer Acquisition (CAC) by “sales stack”.

You have a sales pipeline issue. Ok – that’s like having a cavity. Don’t react and go to the drugstore in search of a $100 electric toothbrush. Take one step backwards and evaluate your daily routine and dental process:

– What do you eat?
– When do you brush?
– What is your brushing motion?
– How are you flossing?
– How are you rinsing with alcohol-based mouthwash?
– How often are you chewing gum in between meals?

From a sales prospective, ask yourself:

– How are you selecting and targeting accounts?
– How are these accounts verified “Competitive Advantages” vs. “Competitive Disadvantages”?
– What is your key account plan?
– What are your storyboarded sales plays deployed against these key accounts?
– How is the team either Activating or Replacing accounts in a defined Activation Cycle?

The best sales leaders are investors. Investors build a process first, then identify the tools that will help influence the execution of that process.


Selling with Spears: Account-Based Sales Development Best Practices with Jamie Shanks


On March 15, 2019, Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing and the host of Sales Pipeline Radio, had an exciting conversation with the CEO of Sales for Life, Jamie Shanks. Jamie is one of the masters of B2B sales, the leading voice of digital selling, and one of the world’s leading social selling experts.


When Does a Seller Use Challenger vs. Customer-Centric Sales Methodology?

There was a discussion thread on LinkedIn amongst a group of sales leaders and professionals regarding Challenger Sales methodology vs. Customer-Centric methodology and their situational use cases. One of the comments was by Tim Reisterer, Chief Strategy Officer at Corporate Visions, and a sales methodology/process authority. He said (and I’m paraphrasing):

“Challenger is key when you (the seller) receive push back on your solution, or a competitor is entrenched and you’re displacing the incumbent. For many sellers, that could represent 25% of their sales pipeline.

Customer-centric is key when you’re working with an existing customer, or referred into the business, and you’re reinforcing the pre-conceived purchasing bias the stakeholder has for you/your solution. For many sellers, that could represent 75% of their sales pipeline.”

Here are my thoughts on this:

1. Tim was really insightful in his comment. I’m almost in no position to challenge him as they (Corporate Visions) run science-based tests on their sales methodologies and against other methodologies.

2. I think the more important thing Tim is trying to say here is – there is NO ONE sales methodology that solves all sales problems. Each methodology is unique at presenting new processes, insights, tips, and tricks to the mix.

AND I’LL SAY THIS ON THE RECORD – 100% of the globally recognized sales methodologies (that aren’t Social Selling focused) are NOT strong at pipeline creation. They are all designed with the account/territory map in place, and struggle to help:

a. Map the TAM of a Territory/Market and look for Competitive Advantages/Disadvantages in that market.
b. Select accounts using Social Proximity.
c. De-Select/De-Emphasize accounts using Digital Sales Triggers.


1.The best-in-class customers we’ve worked with are investors in MULTIPLE methodologies and processes.

2.The best-in-class customers we’ve worked with are architects, and mold ALL of these methodologies into 1x “OUR WAY” system.

3.The best-in-class customers we’ve worked with are artists, and design specific sales motions for each sales archetype. They don’t lean too heavily on 1x sales methodology for every sales role.

What type of sales enablement/operations team do you want to be? The Standard operating procedure is taking an average of $1,500 – $3,000/per seller annually and giving them skills.  Best-in-class are students of the sales performance ecosystem, and have designed “their way” that increases yield-per-seller to heights that the competition struggles against.


Why You Should Include Video Marketing in Your 2019 Marketing Budget

Video marketing is getting more popular and effective every day. Marketers from all over the world are using videos to achieve a variety of different goals. Video is not only a useful educational tool, but they also help users to understand products and services. Website traffic sources show that videos not only cover a good percentage of traffic converting into leads, but also improve customers’ experience.

YouTube, Vimeo, and Dailymotion are known as the top three video platforms to share and advertise videos for much better brand engagement and awareness, and to reach a new audience.  On the other hand, videos posted on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, video webinars) put your video marketing in a different league. 

But here is the big catch. Most advertisers say more than 87% use YouTube as the primary platform for video marketing.

Read these amazing facts about video marketing in the infographic below:

Video Marketing Infographic