Most businesses today depend on growth to thrive. For some, it’s essential for survival – period. It’s what allows companies to upgrade programs, hire additional personnel, and beef up marketing efforts. If you have investors then there’s the added pressure to perform better quarter after quarter, year after year. How does a company do this? Strategic planning for their key account managers. These aren’t just fancy business words. Client retention and long-term satisfaction directly depend on well-positioned key accounts, and it’s what every enterprise should consistently focus on and improve upon.
Some businesses don’t differentiate between KAM and regular account management. As such, these organizations assign individual salespeople and account managers different parts of their customers’ needs. The problem with this approach, especially if your clients are key accounts, is the lack of consistency in ideas and execution of important tasks. The results sometimes lead to the loss of clients–and revenue–which significantly affects your growth.
KAMs need to develop a strategic plan for how they will handle individual accounts and also how they will manage an overall workflow that keeps them on target. Strengthening your relationships with well-thought planning for your key accounts is what will keep your company healthy and your executive team out of your hair. Not sure what types of strategies you should implement? Try these.
The Shared Account Strategy
Valuable key account management does not focus on a single party in any business transaction. As is the case with negotiations, successful key account management depends on the ability to engage both clients and your own executive team to ensure that each party gains from the relationship.
For that reason, the shared account approach begins with showing real interest in what clients want to achieve for their own clients. After establishing what a client wants to achieve, the next step is to devise a strategy that will help them attain their goals. In other words, their goals need to be your goals. Don’t view key accounts from one angle, or eventually the relationship with either your own company or your client will fizzle out.
Prioritizing Key Accounts
This seems almost silly to mention, but one surefire way to lose clients is to forget they exist. Be sure your organization genuinely values your role as a KAM and the revenue you’re bringing in with your skills. It’s easy to become bogged down with special projects for your boss or even for an upcoming marketing campaign. Don’t let these extra tasks become your primary ones. Your role is a KAM should occupy the majority of your working hours and attention. With the exception of catastrophic events in your office, key accounts need to be your No. 1 priority.
Developing Internal Relationships
Growing a business depends on multiple factors – one being the ability to seize new revenue opportunities. While much of your daily interaction is with your external clients, don’t underestimate the value of relationship building with your own office. Developing better relationships with your colleagues can actually help your company capture new markets. How so? Think about the concepts of mutual respect and gratitude in a group setting. When you display respect for those around you, these same people are more inclined to help you, especially when you’re in a bind and need help fast.
Even if you don’t have fires to put out, keeping a strong working relationship with those around you allows you to devote more time for clients and provide you with more mental space and energy to take on new ones.
Don’t be that KAM who thinks your job is the only important one in the company and that everyone else is there to serve your needs. It might be true in some cases, but your job would not exist if others’ jobs didn’t also exist. Everybody in your office has a role–some bigger than others–and you should be thankful to every person who makes your job easier.
Assessing Your Current State
A self-assessment of how you are performing is vital towards establishing how to better manage your accounts going forward. Therefore, you need to check your performance in particular areas to discover how successful your strategies have been–or if they haven’t–and what you need to adjust. These areas of performance can be interpersonal, physical, mental, or technical. Do you communicate well with others around you? Are you taking care of yourself outside of work? Do you have the most up-to-date skills and comprehension of current programs to do your job?
You also need to verify the problems you are helping your clients solve and ensure these also have a start-to-finish strategy for each one.
It’s not enough to just throw together a plan and call it a strategy. Understanding how everyone fits in the picture, and how to effectively and honestly measure your own performance is necessary for truly successful key account management. Step back from time to time and assess what is working, what’s not and then figure out ways to improve upon the former and eliminate the latter.
Curious to see how you can take your Key Account Management skills to the next level? Download this helpful ebook on how to create powerful engagement plans for your key accounts or sign up for a demo of Kapta.