Not all of your client accounts are equal. A smaller number of accounts are probably responsible for bringing in the most money to your company.
You need to pay close attention to your key accounts in order to maintain and increase your revenue. Having a key account management process will help you do this.
Steps To Setup Key Account Management
1. A Focus On Customer Outcomes
Key account managers who are great at their job think about more than just the next sale. They focus on how their actions, suggestions, and solutions are helping to create positive outcomes for their accounts.
Although it is important to think about how you can bring in revenue for your own organization, it is more important to focus on helping your clients. If you help your clients, the results will come for you as well.
Good key account managers understand that their daily work should be focused on their customer’s outcomes.
Many office workers find themselves caught up in the hustle and bustle of their work environment and prioritize their own needs over those of others. They only care about making more sales and don’t think about how it will affect their relationships with clients.
The best account managers always have the customer’s best interests at heart. The company wants its customers to be successful with its products and only recommends premium products if it is confident that they will work.
When consultants are able to give clients the information they need, the clients see them as more trustworthy and reliable. The clients are then more likely to come to the consultant with questions about their business.
If you can build trust with your existing key accounts, they will be more receptive to your sales pitch and less likely to require convincing that your product is effective.
This kind of trust can take time to develop, even with clients that you’ve worked with for years. You should focus on small goals first and then work your way up to the bigger goals. After you have completed a series of goals that provide benefits for your client, they will be more likely to listen to your suggestions and buy your premium features.
2. Understanding The Big Picture
This job can be overwhelming if you dwell on the details.
As the leader of the account management department, the key account manager has to deal with many daily stresses. This person is likely to deal with every emergency, no matter how critical or unimportant it is.
Dealing with emergencies, managing multiple accounts and strategies, and using various software applications can be very challenging.
If you have difficulty seeing the big picture because you are too close to the problem, you might not need to do more, but actually do less.
Sounds counterintuitive, right? When you think about the larger goal, you can spend your time on more productive tasks with a better understanding of how it will help the account, instead of trying to do so much in one day that it feels like you’re just randomly choosing meetings, schedules, tasks, and actions.
An effective key account manager will have an understanding of how their work impacts the account in the future, not just in the present.
Not only is it essential to be productive, but you must also have a proactive mindset that allows you to produce better results for your clients.
When you examine the situation from a broader perspective—such as how your client’s business affects your organization, how your organization affects your client’s business, and what changes are happening in the industry—you can identify areas where you need to make improvements and areas of the account that require your close attention now.
3. Looking Out For The Customer First
While it’s important to keep the company’s best interests in mind, the best key account managers understand that their customers and their client’s needs always come first.
You should never give away your products or services for free, but you shouldn’t try to sell them to people all the time either.
You need to let the sales reps do their job and show that you’re an expert in the field without being motivated by money. Although this may not be accurate, adopting this perspective can assist you in becoming an excellent account manager.
Although key account management may not appear to be a self-centered field, many account managers tend to focus on the clients that respond well to their sales methods while ignoring those who do not, resulting in an unbalanced distribution of time and attention.
This strategy of only focusing on accounts that recently renewed their contract never pays off for the company in the end. If they are a true strategic account, then they deserve your time regardless of when their last renewal was.
If you put the customer first, you will get more genuine results. Rather than trying to make a lot of money by forcing something that does not fit, you will know exactly what to do to solve the problem.
This solution might not make as much money as the other one, but it will have more long-term effects and make a bigger impact on the account.
4. Start With The End In Mind
This is one aspect of key account management that we cannot stress enough. If you want to solve a maze, it’s helpful to start from the endpoint. Similarly, if you want to achieve a goal, it’s helpful to start by thinking about what you want the end result to be.
If you know where the maze is going to eventually end up, it is much easier to navigate the twists and turns.
The same is true for account management. The best key account managers will be constantly refining their account plans to help them achieve their goals more quickly. It’s this type of intensity that brings real results.
By thinking about the end goal first, you can map out a plan of how your product or service can help achieve it.
If you want to offer a premium service or an upgrade, don’t just spring it on your customers out of the blue. Plan your pitch so that you suggest it to them as a genuine solution once they reach a particular milestone.
It is helpful to focus on the goals of the account in order to stay motivated and continue working hard, even when there are setbacks or problems. Goals are quantifiable and rather than being something that randomly appears that you need to take care of right away, they are a target to strive for.
If you keep the end result in mind, you will be more likely to stay on task and exceed your client’s expectations. However, once you achieve the goal, you may need to set a new one.
Key Account Management Skills
Some companies assign their customer service representatives to be key account managers for one or two customers. This setup is not the best because sales and account management require different ways of thinking, different skills, and different goals. Your team should have separate sales and account manager roles unless it is prohibitively small.
The goal of a key account manager is to be essential to their customer’s success, not just to win individual deals.
Here are several unique skills critical to a key account manager’s success:
1. Get To Know The Customer
The key account manager must have a detailed and nuanced understanding of the account’s strategy, their position in the market, their financial situation, the products they offer, and the organization’s structure.
After they have gained this understanding, they will use it to create business proposals which demonstrate how price changes, customization, and additional features will increase the value.
2. Cross-Functional Collaboration To Benefit The Customer
accounts that are important to the company often do not want to buy products that are available to everyone; instead, they want a combination of products and services that are designed specifically for them Since it’s important for a KAM to be able to develop offerings that work well for the organization as a whole, it’s crucial that they are able to work well with others within the organization.
3. Effective Leadership Of The Key Account Team
A KAM needs to be a leader in order to guide her team members, who might include a salesperson, marketer, technical support specialist, implementation specialist, and/or onboarding specialist.
4. Coordination And Planning Of Activities For Complex Accounts
Key account programs have a lot of moving parts. KAMs need to be good at making plans for both the short and long term, seeing them through, evaluating the results, and using that information to guide their future actions.
5. Strong Business Acumen
The KAM should have a deep understanding of how the company they work for generates revenue, so that they can best advise their clients on how to do the same. They should also be aware of any changes in the business landscape.
Having this information will allow them to be seen as a reliable resource and consultant for their customers.
6. Ability To Use Analytical Skills To Support A Variety Of Clients
In order to be a successful key account manager, one should not only have business acumen, but also an analytical mindset. Their strong analytical skills will help them develop and present business cases effectively.
They need to: -Think quickly -Apply knowledge to various clients and markets -Be confident when presenting information
7. Clear Written And Verbal Communication Skills
The key account manager is responsible for keeping all stakeholders up-to-date on any issues. Occasionally, account managers may have to give oral presentations. This means that they need to be able to write and speak clearly.
Key Account Management Strategy
1. How Transactional Your Current Sales Process Is
If your sales reps have little to no interaction with prospects, and your sales cycle is short, key account management is not the best option.
It’ll be tough to get your sales team to switch to entirely new methods for just a few select clients.
2. If Your Product Has Upsell And Cross-Sell Potential
If the customer is not going to buy more, there is no point in continuing the relationship. It is important to provide good customer service and support to keep people talking about your business and coming back.
3. Your Ability To Land And Expand
The rule has an exception: If you can get your foot in the door of the prospect’s company and then grow the account by selling to other departments, offices, subsidiaries, etc., a key account strategy may be a good investment.
4. The Competitive Landscape You’re Facing
A key account program can help your business to stand out from the competition. For example, let’s say your customer is choosing between you and another company.
If you can promise to make them a key account and your competition can’t do the same, you’re likely to win the deal.
5. Company Capacity And Resources
The success of key account management rests on the shoulders of the entire organization, from the executives to the key account team. You’ll need enough money to last for a few years, in case it takes that long to make back your investment.
Key Account Management Best Practices
1. Select The Right Accounts
A winning strategy hinges on being selective. When choosing which key accounts to target, be sure to use the same set of standards for each one. This will ensure you’rewe’re targeting the most promising prospects.
You should regularly check in on your key accounts to make sure they still need extra time, energy, and resources from you. If they justify the resource allocation with their performance, then continue on.
If the account is not performing well or does not seem like a good use of additional resources, you may want to scale back.
Additionally, keep track of non-key accounts. If, for example, a customer is on the verge of experiencing significant growth, they may qualify as a strategic account. If you court them now, you will earn their loyalty before any other company.
Periodically assess your selection criteria. Are the key accounts you have right now providing the level of return on investment that you expected? If you are not seeing the results you want, it may be because you are using the wrong methods.
2. Build A Dedicated Team
Even the best knowledge and account managers can’t do their jobs alone and need help from others. Someone who is solely focused on KAM duties is ideal, but not always possible.
Each account manager should have a team that can help with different tasks related to the client’s account in order to make sure that everything is done correctly. The teams you put together to work with your clients should have a balance of skills, disciplines, and experience.
If possible, name an executive sponsor to each account. They can play a significant role in getting the necessary resources, connecting with the C-suite at the target account, and providing high-level guidance.
3. Consistently Measure Account Performance
In order to be successful, it is important to keep track of how well your accounts are doing. Set a cadence for internal account reviews. This schedule might be weekly, monthly, or quarterly depending on the team size, account’s value, and the relationship’s dynamic.
Consistently measure the account’s engagement and loyalty. Both should trend upward. Schedule regular check-ins with the client to get feedback, address issues, and identify areas for improvement.
4. Invest In The Right Tools
If you have the right tools, it will be much easier and more effective to do your job as a KAM.
A CRM can help keep track of communication with account stakeholders, give everyone on the team visibility into what is happening, and minimize duplication of effort.
Grow Your Business With A Key Account Management Strategy
If you want to maintain and grow relationships with your important customers, you need a key account management strategy. This strategy should be comprehensive and well-planned in order to keep your customers satisfied and help the relationships grow. This means that both your retention rates and your bottom line will improve.