9 Mins Read

Strategic Selling Teardown (Actual Company)

Brandon Fluharty  |

Brandon Fluharty |

⚡️ Today’s level up ⚡️

Today’s edition focuses on a teardown of an actual company developing a strategic account team and the strategy I would deploy if I were a Strategic AE for them.

Let’s go!

Read time: <9 minutes

If you missed last week, read it here.


Designing a strategy for an actual company

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on LinkedIn about when a Proof-of-Concept (POC) should/shouldn’t be free.

As a call-to-action at the bottom of that post, I invited readers to share a company or industry, and I promised to do a teardown on developing a strategic account sales strategy deconstructing how I would go about:

• Developing a strong point of view (POV)

• Getting attention high up in the org

• Positioning a large transformation

• Increasing the size of the deal

I got a lot of helpful responses and suggestions (thank you!).

The one that caught my eye was Klaviyo, especially after learning that they were developing a brand new Strat Account Team after the success they had been achieving at the enterprise level. In addition, they went public in September of 2023 and were valued at over $9B. Lastly, when I analyzed their company, particularly their company values, it felt eerily similar to my time at LivePerson from 2018 – 2022 (when I joined, they too were launching a brand new Strategic Account Team).

This one looked like a lot of fun to dive deeper into.

If you’re not familiar with Klaviyo, here is how they describe their unique value proposition:

“Power smarter digital relationships. Our intelligent marketing automation platform turns customer data into faster growth.”

Here are some key stats about the company (per LinkedIn and RepVue):

• Company Size: ~2,000 – 2,500 employees

• HQ: Boston (appears to offer a hybrid work model)

• Number of sellers hitting quota: 65%

• OTE: $320,000

• Top Earners: $610,000

• Segment: Intelligent Marketing Automation

• Industries they serve: Retail and ecommerce, Wellness, Restaurants

• Key Products: Email automation, SMS (two-way), Mobile push notifications, Reviews, Customer Data Platform (CDP)

After analyzing their company and talking with a few people in their space, I will explain how I would approach being a successful strategic seller on this new team, knowing what I know.

I hope this neutral analysis sparks some ideas on better approaching your own strategic sales strategy.

Basic assumptions and laying the foundation

Analyzing some of the big logos displayed on their site – Skims, Citizen, Unilever, COTY, it’s safe to say a large ecomm direct-to-consumer brand (or portfolio of brands) would make a good strategic account target.

Per an opening for a Strategic AE role in New York, it appears the role is suited for a land-and-expand motion. I’ll use one of the massive logos (COTY), which represents the beauty and fragrance arm of iconic companies, like Adidas, Calvin Klein, Rimmel, Gucci, and many others, as a basis for my strategy.

COTY is based in the territory for this AE role (New York), and I will assume Klaviyo already works with a handful of brands in COTY’s portfolio, but would ideally like to work with all brands in their portfolio and expand those brands to using the full Klaviyo product suite.

Not knowing their product suite intimately well, I would use their company values to help formulate my 90-day ramp strategy. It would look something like this:

→ Collaborate Radically and Be Equitable: Introduce myself and get familiar with all of the Klaviyos who will be supporting our team.

→ Be an Owner: Leverage The Simple Strategic Selling System to learn Klaviyo’s product suite and key features through a business lens.

→ Always Learning and Put The Customer First: Deeply study and understand Klaviyo’s most successful and innovative customers today – those leveraging the platform at scale while learning how that is impacting the key executive Mobilizer in order to create a DNA profile of future Mobilizers.

→ Be Remarkable: Develop a unique point of view, gather compelling insights, and connect with all current account (i.e. COTY and/or their active brand) stakeholders to establish a relationship and begin unearthing their perspectives and insights to begin designing solutions together.

→ Be Ambitious: Begin mapping and tiering my accounts using The Diamond Hunter Framework. Identify all agencies connected to each account. Use this structure to begin a bottom-up (brand level), middle-in (partners/agencies), and top-down (subsidiary level) outreach strategy working in tandem with my BDR, the ABM team, partners,   and other key individuals using The Diamond Standard Cheetsheat.

Developing a strong point of view

A common trap for Enterprise sellers is approaching a new prospect or customer by a.) embarking on a discovery-based approach and b.) leading with a single use case. This approach 1.) takes a long time and 2.) limits the ability to get the prospect or client to think big and beyond their day-to-day role, hence keeping you at a lower level in the organization.

These are two deadly places to be as a seller.

Effective strategic account selling, on the other hand, requires a different approach. In fact, you’re not selling at all, instead you’re designing a better buying experience so you can help busy executives buy…a transformation.

As you learned last week, the most effective way to do this is to teach the customer something new about their own business and provide a compelling reason to take action.

Through the principles highlighted above, I would start with finding and interviewing the most innovative customer today. As a reminder, the most innovative customers are found at the intersection of big spenders and those shaping the product roadmap.

I would use these findings to refine how I talk to executives within my account list and territory.

I would want to become obsessive about how they think and talk. I would use my findings to work with the deal strategy team to develop an effective transformation Maturity Model (which I’ll break down below).

The goal would be to work backward from the ideal state (an innovative customer who has all of Klaviyo’s products turned on + the promise of all forward-looking features, like Klaviyo AI) to map out the key stages of the transformation journey.

Then, using the language I uncovered from our most innovative customers today, claim and name the category of the fully transformed customer – very similar to how Zuora claimed and owned the subscription economy.

For the sake of argument, let’s make “intelligent marketing automation platform that turns customer data into faster growth” a big idea. Let’s call it “The Magical Moment Brand is Emerging.”

Considering we’re trying to help Marketing executives, I would want to make it possible to enable them to deliver on a moonshot idea:

Marketing teams can deliver a wholly unique experience to every customer. That takes understanding each customer at a much deeper level than exists today and using rich data to enable real-time, magical experiences!

What does that mean?

This is when an online customer visits a website or an app, and the experience is completely tailored to them—one built on their preferences and past shopping behavior at the other brands they love.

Getting attention high up in the org

In parallel to creating this point of view, I would immediately start introducing and interviewing all current customers on my account list.

The primary goal, besides establishing a relationship, is three-fold:

• Get a pulse check on their sentiment

• Develop a smart org chart

• Gather key strategic insights

Once I have the beginning formation of a narrative for an account like COTY, I would start a strategic outreach campaign to very specific high-level executives at COTY.

I would use strategies like The Open Letter approach and coordinating specific invitations between our C-Suite and their executives for exclusive, intimate gatherings. The latter is something my friend Jamal Reimer calls Executive Whispering.

Positioning a large transformation

Now that I have a Maturity Model built with our deal strategy team, the formation of a narrative, and I am starting to align our executives, it’s time to start bringing the teams together to paint the big picture along with the key steps to making it happen.

• 00 STATUS QUO: Most brands today. Offer static and generic digital experiences across web, app, email, and one-way text messages (maybe).

• 01 LAUNCH: Set the foundation for happier customers. Improve personalized communications via email, offer two-way conversations via SMS, and send timely app notifications based on smart triggers (like geo-location or shipment events).

• 02 EXPAND: Enhance trust and loyalty with new customers. Automate review requests, reward shoppers who support you, segment and create specific communications based on review data, and send perfectly timed review requests (like after confirmed delivery).

• 03 SCALE: Build your Customer Data Platform. Capture all customer data and conversations into a single source of truth with clean data that can be used to enhance the customer experience at a large scale.

• 04 ORCHESTRATE: Design new journeys with the help of AI. Create rich customer profiles with the help of AI to forecast the customers’ next moves and recommend the right products at just the right time.

• 05 DIFFERENTIATE: Deliver a unique experience for every single customer. Be the first brand (or portfolio of brands) that can surface up a wholly unique digital experience on the website or app based on their unique (and secure) customer identity, allowing them to shop on a new brand’s website (totally tailored to them and their preferences) like they do at their favorite brands. This creates magical moments every time they shop within your portfolio of brands, redefining digital commerce.

This would be the roadmap I’d use for every account, but the narrative changes slightly because I am using their native terminology and calling out their specific initiatives. Better yet, I’d work with our team to “package up” each stage and begin modeling out different commercial models so that we could come to the table with different pricing options, giving us a higher probability of them saying yes:

License-based approach

Consumption-based approach (i.e. AI use)

Gainshare approach (i.e. guaranteed outcomes)

Increasing the size of the deal

Because I’ve mapped out a very tangible and easy-to-understand transformation path, gained key insights into pieces of their business, and leveraged the power of our executives to instill credibility and authority with theirs, I no longer need to rely on a lengthy discovery-based sales process that leads with a single use case (like email automation).

My experience closing $50M TCV / $27.3M ARR in less than 4 years at a public conversational AI company showed me that when huge companies can see a large vision, have a say in creating the business case, and connect the dots to their own moonshot initiatives, the natural output is a desire for their executive team, CFO, and procurement to want to lock-in favorable pricing for multiple years.

When done well, they see that the biggest risk isn’t proving it out in a small POC; it’s being ready internally when the Launch stage is wildly successful. If they needed further proof using their own data, I would work with their Mobilizer and a team of experts on our side to set up “boot camps” or hackathons that show the power of our capabilities and how easy and fast it is to get things up and running using their own data and systems. Instead of telling them how to use LLMs and AI to redefine their business (like the competition does), I would be busy showing them the value that can be had using their own data, terminology, and processes.

In the case of COTY, showing them the path that they could be the first beauty brand portfolio in the world to deliver a unique digital experience to every one of its millions of customers puts them in a new realm of defining digital commerce. Not only would they be leaving significant money on the table if they didn’t scale quickly (our executive alignment could start shaping how they forecast their earnings on earnings calls), but they would be missing out on a huge PR opportunity to show the world how they were pioneers.

Even if they were still highly skeptical, I would’ve built a strong case to start “small” with 10 of their Prestige Brands to work through the transformation model over the next 12 months. That would be a multi-million dollar “pilot” that would set our team and company up for massive, predictable upside within their entire portfolio.

To further protect myself and the company from relying so heavily on one account, I would run the play two or three more times with additional logos, conservatively securing a nine-figure pipeline we could begin strategically and calmly pursuing over the next three years.

A lot better than trying to approach each brand individually with the hope of a small upsell, right?

That’s a wrap. See you next week!


Here’s how I can help you right now:

1 | Unlock the 7 Figure Seller OS

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3 | Book a 1:1 coaching session right now

You can book a 60-minute coaching session with me (although the Pro above option provides access to 1:1 coaching with me at a 70% discount.

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