As a Key Account Manager Nordics for a SaaS (Software as a Service) company, I was tasked to sell a cloud-based 3D visualization tool to municipalities and cities in the Nordic region.

Selling a complex technical solution is difficult enough if you have one stake holder to consider. When you add a mix of stake holders with differing IT competence levels, roles and educational backgrounds, the level of complexity in your sales case rises.

There are many differing views on how sales should be executed – from opinions to processes with some basis in science. My approach to sales is relationship based, incorporating processes that are adapted to the particular company or organization I work with. I have a “no-gibberish” policy, where I focus on transparency and trust rather then catchy models that can be packaged – every company is unique, and needs a sales process adapted to its unicity.

Challenges and how Amira helped

My responsibilities working as a KAM in a small but influential tech company went well beyond sales and working towards a quota. My work involved setting the sales strategy, marketing plans, market analysis, planning user conferences, client segmentation – the list goes on.

My approach to this particular role and to sales can be condensed to the following activities:

  • Reviewing the sales process and making sure I had a sustainable sales pipe (also called funnel by people in sales); i.e. a list of leads/potential clients that I could close a deal with both short term and long term, making sure I always had a list of leads I could talk to and where a certain percentage of these would become a won deal by the end of the month.
  • Segmenting our clients. Understanding our clients is always a paramount aspect of sales, as is distributing your time correctly. I set more time and effort on the Large tier segment, and adapted personas, sales activity and marketing accordingly.
  • Workshops, demos, user conferences and educational sessions.

I will go through how I worked with each of these activities as mentioned above:

A sales process is a set of steps along a line, from start to a finished deal. How many steps to include in a sales process hinges a lot on the type of business you are in, what kind of products/services you are selling, the industry, your stakeholders etc.
You can have several sales process in one and the same company.

A sales pipeline is a visualization of a sales process. Most of the deals are found at the start for natural reasons, and become fewer the closer you get to the last stage of closing the deal. For each month, I made sure to move a certain amount of leads along the sales process and to have hot leads I could close (make a deal with) every month. In short: conducting sales activities with each client and agreeing on a next step as well as timeline in order to move them along the sales process, and to have a well defined journey to either a lost deal (the need or possibility to buy is not there) or a won deal.

Prior to segmenting the clients, I made sure to have researched the market we were in; who the competitors were, substitute technology and services, who the clients where, market size and historic data on previous deals. Previous deals told me where most of the revenue was coming from (and it did follow the general rule of 80% of sales coming from 20% of the clients), the segment I later dubbed Large tier. The tier system of large, medium and small helped me focus my time and adapt my sales activities. Even small tiered leads are important, and deserving of your time – how much time, and what kind of sales activities to set for them as compared to large potential clients will however differ.

For large tiered clients and leads, the focus was on physical meetings. For medium and small sized leads, focus was more on internet based demos. Road shows, fairs, workshops and live demos and holding seminars were important tools in my work. As mentioned earlier in the text, the stakeholders were many and had different roles – architects, IT managers, Geographical Information System (GIS) managers and programmers, 3D designers, budget setters and more. To adapt the material presented, I always asked – before the meeting and in the introductory first minutes:

  • Who is attending the meeting/demo and what role did they have in the organization? Do a bit of digging on educational and work background
  • What is the goal of the meeting, what are the expectations?
  • Make sure I had the necessary time needed for the meeting (e.g. that nobody needed to leave early) and that we would agree on a next step

And the part about demos from the airport? Well, sometimes you need to adapt and improvise and at one point, a client wanted an impromptu demo with short notice, and of course one obliges. It went well, the key to being successful is being ready for the unexpected.

– B2B complex sales
– Setting up a sales process
– Workshops / education
– Project Management