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Why You Have Low Wallet Share and What To Do About It

If you are going to exert the effort to go and win a client, why not put forth a little more effort and win the whole account? Sometimes we can succeed in winning orders and do so in a way that makes it more difficult to get what we were really after.

Below are a few reasons sales organizations have low wallet share and some ideas about how you can increase it.

Transactional Selling

There are differences in selling transactional business and selling more strategic accounts. The activities are very different, and what allows you to succeed in one can cause you to fail in the other.

If you treat a strategic account for whom you could create tremendous value like a transactional account, creating little value and closing for orders, you often get exactly what you asked for. Because you did so little value creation and avoided a strategic level of value creation, you are perceived as transactional. Now you have orders, but you don’t have the conversation and the opportunity that allows you to move up the levels of value creation to strategic.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes you have to prove yourself and earn trust. But more often than not, it’s better to treat the sale as strategic from the beginning, foregoing transactional orders now in order to capture the lion’s share of wallet later.

Treat transactional clients as transactional and provide them the right value creation. Treat strategic accounts as strategic and create the right level of value for them so that you can capture the wallet share.

Too Few Relationships

In larger, more complex organizations, it’s difficult to capture wallet share when different segments of the company can make their own decision as to who to use. It’s easy to get trapped in a department or pigeonholed into some segment of the business when you are really capable of providing more and earning greater wallet share.

To capture wallet share, you have to develop the relationships that allow you to capture new segments and new divisions. Sometimes, you have to work your way up to high-level decision makers to be able to make a case to consolidate their spending across divisions or business units. The relationships you develop are what allow you to find your way through your client’s organization and to build consensus along the way.

Make relationships throughout the organization so that you are known, so that you are trusted, and so you can create the opportunities to improve your wallet share.

Poor Execution

It’s ugly, I know. Sometimes the reason you have low wallet share is because you deserve to have low wallet share. If you aren’t executing now, it’s difficult for your client to imagine trusting you with even more work.

Sometimes the only way to gain an opportunity to improve your wallet share is to execute on what you already have. You might need to have an honest and candid conversation with your team about execution. You might also need to ask your client for a do over.

However you proceed, to earn a greater share of your client’s spend, you need to first deliver on the promises that you have already made.

Poor Account Management

An account manager can make the difference in gaining wallet share. Ensuring that you have the right team with the right people in place is a critical factor in growing your wallet share.

Large clients are built on exceptions. Much of what we do to create value for them requires us to customize what we do for them and how we do it. In a lot of sales organizations, it’s tough to get these exceptions made. Having an account management plan and the right account manager can make a difference in successfully serving large clients and gaining wallet share, especially an account manager that can sell inside the organization.

As a salesperson or sales manager, you have to sell inside to make sure you have the right resources—and the right people—in place to earn greater wallet share.


What are the reasons that you have low wallet share in some of your clients?

What changes would you need to make to increase your wallet share?

Do you sell differently to transactional clients than strategic clients?

How can you gain the relationships you need to improve your wallet share?

How do you ensure that you execute in a way that earns you the right to improve your wallet share?

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  • Tamara Schenk

    Great blog post, Anthony!

    You mentioned already important reasons for a low wallet share. From my point of view, accounts often are not analyzed well enough, that’s why an account tiering process is so important to recognize different types of strategic accounts. There are strategic accounts that are focused on creating new business (to existing and to new budget centers). Those accounts are often high potential conquests, still low wallet share, but high potential in terms of capabilities and relationships. So, getting the right access, building trust and execution is key to success. Another level of strategic accounts is also important to consider – and not less important. Those already have a high wallet share, but still planned growth, but smaller growth rates. Optimizing existing business, make existing business more efficient and still being able to grow are the major account strategies here.
    But, you need different people for those different types of strategic accounts. What you already mentioned, resource allocation is key. Resource allocation regarding the account team itself and resource allocation of required experts in specific opportunities is one of the most important deal decisions a vendor can make. Both account have to be treated as strategic accounts, but the teams for both account tiers need a different skill set.

    Relationships are often poor, which means the account doesn’t sell high enough and is struggling to get transactional. Why is that so? Because the patterns of their relationships, often in IT Management only, are transactional. So, managing relationships across the vendor organization is key to success and needs to be developed across the organization.

    And… strategic account planning! Often, the account plan is based on an inside-out view – and that’s not working for strategic account, no way – if you want to be considered as a business partner.
    Strategic account plans have to be based on a clear methodology to work consequently backwards from the customer always focused on creating added value for strategic accounts? We are using the model map match approach
    Creating value, delighting customers, that’s the purpose.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, Tamara. Tiering and account planning are critical activities that are easy to overlook because we are so busy working and selling. 

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