Your key account managers are the unsung heroes of your B2B sales. They are the primary point of contact for all of your most important accounts and therefore, have the greatest responsibility to provide a high level of service and value to those customers. In many ways, the long-term success of your business hinges on the success of the relationships your key account managers nurture with their clients. It is their job to ensure the customer feels happy, supported, empowered, and inclined to continue doing business with your company, now and into the future.
However, when you speak to customers, you often hear complaints that key account managers are only heard from when it’s time to renew a contract or pay an invoice. There is a disconnected feeling, and while the customer may understand the value of what is being provided, they don’t get the feeling that someone is on their side and working to help them achieve their goals.
The Impact of Key Account Managers Chasing Checks
The impact of your key account managers being driven only by a check is significant, and overtime, it will show in customer retention. Your customers will begin to view your team as reactive and haphazard, rather than proactive and strategic.
Instead, they want to feel as if you are ahead of the curve, always looking to improve and enhance their business as well as yours. Key account managers that are chasing checks only have low value interactions that decrease trust and make the customer feel unworthy. They begin to see that interactions only occur when payment is owed. Your business will begin to be seen as replaceable and just another commodity vendor, not a trusted advisor. If you want to truly make a difference and have a long-term impact for your customers, your key account managers need better training.
The Solution is Arming KAMs With the Tools They Need
Of course, the solution to decreased trust is to rebuild it with current key customers and establish it from the beginning with new ones. Arm your KAM’s with the tools they need to provide this effectively.
- Give KAM’s incentive to have strategic conversations with customers.
- Prioritize goal discovery and uncovering key initiatives from customers.
- Strive to understand the problems your customers face and how you can help get them resolved.
- Build a communication cadence and strive to interact with customers in a way that adds value and makes them feel less stressed, better equipped and aided in their problem solving.
- Link back to their goals during interactions to help customers see the strategic and value-added approach of your business.
- Connect customers with tools and resources outside of a KAM’s job scope. Customers will see and appreciate this dedication.
Training your key account managers in this direction will benefit your business, your customers and your managers themselves.
To further encourage these interactions, you can incentivize this communication. For instance, managers can keep record of problems they are able to help customers with, so that future customers can benefit. Through these records, you can award bonuses to managers that are able to help key accounts achieve their goals most effectively.
A schedule will help key account managers stay on track with regular outreach to clients. You can give your managers a schedule to follow that shows how often they should be reaching out via email or phone for strategic talks. Ultimately, these are the calls that make customers feel important, and by scheduling this communication for your key account managers, they will see the importance of it as well. Reaching out only when money is owed or contracts are due is unacceptable. However, key account managers will likely revert back to bad communication habits and customer relationships will deteriorate, without the right schedule in place.
The key to knowing how to keep your key account managers from just chasing checks is in better training. Account managers need to understand the importance and value of interacting with customers positively, in a way that connects with their goals and needs. Through these interactions, key account managers, and your business as a whole, will have better customer retention and long-term sales.