You’ve established yourself within your firm and among your clients as a solid Key Account Manager. You have your finger on the pulse of each of your clients’ markets. You’re proactive in keeping the lines of communication open between your office and your key accounts. What’s more, you follow up on every transaction, and you are always looking for new opportunities to enhance your skills.
All of these are good, but what if you could take it to the next level. Perhaps you know deep inside that you could be doing better. Here are a few things to think about if you want to graduate from good to great!
Be a Relationship Builder
You’ve already know the nuances of your key accounts. You conduct research into their markets and industry news. You understand the value of feedback and you use it. Are you familiar with other team members? When you ask how a client is doing, are you listening for clues that can give you a better understanding of the decision makers on her side of the table?
Often, where you may be efficient in communicating your services and products to your client, she may have issues relating that information up the chain. Practice purposeful listening, and don’t be afraid to show empathy for your client. Human connection reinforces the bonds of good business. With a trained ear, you can find ways to assist your client with her challenges as they relate to your product or service, and possibly predict and correct issues which may arise in the future.
Once you have a solid sense of your client’s goals, be sure to communicate them to your colleagues and senior managers. While it’s important for you to be the main communicator and advocate on your client’s behalf, you still need support from your own team.
Call for Backup
Who will support your clients when you’re away from the office? Do you have a colleague you can trust to step in? Don’t wait till the day before you leave to ask someone to fill in. Have a plan in place. Cultivate an agreement in which you and an associate can fill in for each other. If his clients are in a similar industry, even better; you can share ideas and inspiration when brainstorming new ways to improve your client care.
Identifying your backup KAM in advance allows you to introduce her to your client, reinforcing your key account contact’s trust in your reliability and foresight.
As an added bonus—for both you and your clients—an established backup KAM will be able to provide qualified help when your clients’ needs require no less than superhuman support, or when multiple clients need extra TLC.
Speaking of asking for backup, remember that to do so is a sign of wisdom, not weakness. If you have a difficult time asking for help on your own behalf, remind yourself that you’re ultimately doing so for your client’s benefit.
Optimize your Organization
How efficient is your Key Account Management strategy? How do you track your communications, metrics and your customer’s key deadlines? Keep clear notes on your client interactions and a schedule for maintaining a proactive approach to customer care. Be sure to factor in market research tasks specific to your clients’ niches so you can better predict their needs. Find the right organization tools for your personal style, and make the most of them.
Well-documented records and schedules allow you to quickly draft briefs for your colleagues and senior management when they need to be informed of your clients’ needs. Of course, organized and up-to-date data makes you look like a KAM god when your client makes an unscheduled call.
Keep Looking Forward
That’s the mantra of any great KAM. By asking the right questions, translating your clients’ feedback into actionable plans for success, keeping a record of your progress and goals, and by keeping abreast of market trends, you’ll be in the best position to support your clients. You’ll continue to improve as your instincts and habits develop. Before they even call on you, you will already be there. This makes you an integral player in the successes of both your clients and your organization.