The New Year is right around the corner, and as we close out 2017 creating a list of New Year’s resolutions to follow in our personal lives, it’s also time to look ahead to our sales and account management goals for the upcoming year.
If you haven’t given much thought to the evolution of your Key Account Management (KAM) Strategy, now is the time to start. The goal of KAM is to improve and grow customer relationships continuously, and if you utilize the same strategy year after year, your relationships could be taking a hit, and your competition might be overtaking your lead.
When approaching your KAM strategy for 2018, look at it as a sports team preparing a game plan. On your KAM team, you’ll have coaches (key account managers) and players (lower account managers) that form a cohesive team. If you take proper steps in coordinating the two groups, you’ll ensure that your KAM strategy dominates in customer relationships in 2018 and many more years to come.
The perfect KAM strategy starts with understanding your goals, identifying your weaknesses, and formulating a set of “plays” you want the players to know inside and out.
What would you like to achieve in 2018? Maybe it’s a lower churn rate or an expanded client base. Whatever your goal may be, it is crucial that you make note of it before determining the steps you need to take to make them a reality. Additionally, and maybe one of the most crucial steps to take, is to determine your weaknesses as well.
When looking back at your KAM efforts in 2017, what did you do wrong? What would you like to improve upon in the next year? Identifying these faults and missteps in your system from the last year will enable you to correct them in the new year. Run a report in your KAM platform to see common customer complaints, view churn rate, or any other metric you would like to improve upon.
Once you have a set of goals in place, you can begin to coach your players as integral pieces to your KAM system.
What to Coach For
Each company will have different needs and goals for the next year, but overall, we’ve found that many KAM teams will need help in the following areas:
While you may not need to overhaul your entire KAM process from beginning to end, it’s vital that your coaches examine the KAM process as a whole before heading into 2018. Your players may be wasting time on steps that could be automated, or they could be skipping necessary actions that could lead to lower churn rates and more favorable relationships with key accounts.
Conduct an audit of the entire process and identify any patterns you notice from the previous year that led to missteps, mistakes, and churns. Once you’ve found the snags in the system, determine the best course of action to correct them either through training or automation and your KAM strategy should be on the path to success in 2018.
Successful communication leads to better customer relations. Communication is the cornerstone of KAM, and without it, your accounts managers may be in the dark and unaware of customer goals, expectations, and problems. The last thing you want is your KAM team out of the loop regarding their account management which is why you should put particular emphasis on communication training for your players.
Teach your players to communicate with all of their accounts effectively, and to remain truthful and honest at all times, even when a problem arises. We’ve found that effective communication, even when things go wrong, helps to cement the trust between the key account manager and the clients, ensuring the relationship stays strong.
3) Follow Ups
Follow-ups are one of the oldest aspects of the selling process and are vital to the success of KAM systems. However, while many account managers may understand the importance of following up with clients, many also forget to follow through with it. Follow-ups will work to reinforce any agreements made while also keeping the door open for future discussions. Ensure that follow-ups are an essential step in your KAM process and your 2018 KAM strategy will be on the path to success with lower churn rates and stronger relationships.
4) Identifying Risks and Opportunities
Avoiding risks in KAM is essential to your success. While sometimes unexpected surprises will occur, there are some steps that your players can take to ensure that these surprises are minimized. One of the best ways to avoid risks is to maintain consistent contact with key accounts and to monitor their health score within Kapta through the Voice of Customer insights. By staying on top of these metrics, they won’t be caught off guard and will be able to identify new opportunities to sell premium services and products to clients.
It’s Not the What but The How that Matters
While most key account managers will understand what they need to do to keep their accounts happy and their relationships growing, they simply don’t know how actually to go about this. Voice of Customer (VOC) Interviews are a typical example of this.
VOC interviews are crucial for collecting real-time data on customer’s thoughts, expectations, and provide a health score for the relationship so for. It is also beneficial in establishing a strategic dialogue with the client. VOC surveys will allow account managers more flexibility when offering more products or services, and will help avoid any negative surprises if account managers followed the traditional “only check in every 90 days” approach.
For 2018, ensure that your players know how they should be conducting VOC interviews. Read our complete guide on administering an excellent VOC interview.
How Kapta Can Help
While Kapta won’t solve all of your problems magically, it will provide convenience and an organizational tool for your account managers. If you don’t have a current KAM platform in place, your players could be wasting precious time on mundane tasks that Kapta could easily automate. Kapta isn’t meant to replace the personal touch of a key account manager, but it will streamline the process by providing valuable insights for each account along with built-in tools such as VOC surveys and health scores to carefully track and monitor account relationships.
Ensure that your team is ready for the upcoming year. Follow these tips, and your coaches and players should be on the same page of the KAM playbook to dominate in 2018 and years beyond. If you have any questions or would like to try a free demo of Kapta, click here to get in touch with us.