Horizontal account penetration
When I first started selling, I was encouraged to vertically penetrate my account so that I could find key individuals in the reporting hierarchy who could help me close the business if my buyer refused to cooperate. In effect, what we were doing was putting a fuse in place so we could go over our buyer’s head if we couldn’t close the sale with her or him.
However, I’ve found over the years that vertical account penetration hasn’t really done much for me other than pissing off my buyer at times. Of course, some items lend themselves to only one particular function. But some of us are lucky enough to sell items that could be used in many functions throughout the organization. To take advantage of this opportunity, I suggest we commit to a more horizontal approach to account penetration.
Horizontal penetration can be extremely effective, especially if you use your current buyer to help you get familiar. For example, maybe you sell printed promotional products. You’ve been selling your products to the marketing director for years. You know the director, you know his or her boss, you know everyone in the marketing department. So one day, during a conversation, the director of human resources walks past him. Another feature that uses your product. Quick, get to know each other! There are many functions within a company that you can sell your product to. Horizontal scanning of the organization can result in a profitable list of prospects and contacts. Best of all, if you are liked by your buyer and have always done excellent work, the buyer will be more likely to recommend you to others in the organization.
The next time you’re in your account, look for other opportunities to sell your product or service.
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