Successful account planning requires an ongoing proactive approach on behalf of key account managers. Managing your existing customer base as client questions arise is no longer a sufficient way to ensure that your customers remain committed to your brand.
Key account managers must supplement reactive strategies with proactive outreach in order to maintain an edge in an increasingly competitive business world. Below are five proactive strategies designed to help key account managers increase satisfaction and loyalty among key accounts.
Make your key accounts aware of time-sensitive purchasing opportunities.
Many companies offer seasonal or time-specific discounts to their customers. These opportunities typically occur during slow periods or times when companies need to reduce their inventory. Examples of special time-sensitive opportunities that customers can take advantage of include the following:
- Year-end inventory reduction price specials
- Overstock specials to move aged inventory
- End-of-quarter sales to help companies meet quarterly goals
- Special pricing on existing inventory to make room for newer models
Invite your customers to visit your headquarters and tour your facilities.
Roll out the red carpet for your key accounts by giving them a personal tour of your corporate offices or manufacturing facility. Be sure to introduce them to your colleagues and company executives, and show them how quality control is executed. Depending upon your budget and the size of the account, you can offer to subtract travel expenses from the cost of the customer’s pending order. This strategy helps to solidify and personalize your relationship with key accounts.
Proactively contact your key customers prior to attending industry trade shows.
Participating in industry trade shows is an excellent strategy to help you remain connected with your key accounts. Ask your key account contacts which trade shows they typically attend, and consider promoting your products or services at one or more of those shows. Then, approximately two weeks prior to the trade show, proactively reach out to your key accounts and remind them of the following:
- The expo hours and your company’s booth location
- Any special promotions you are offering at the trade show
- Information about new products that you plan to display
- Any customer giveaways or freebies that you will offer
Feature your key accounts in advertisements and testimonials.
This key account strategy offers multiple benefits. In addition to building your brand’s authority, customer testimonials can help develop a sense of trust among prospective customers. The strategy benefits key accounts, as most customers enjoy the free publicity they receive from your company’s advertisements and testimonials. Customer testimonials can be provided in multiple formats, including video and audio clips. Testimonials can be featured on your company’s blog, on product literature sheets, and within customer email blasts.
Proactively notify your customers about upcoming product changes.
Do not wait for your key accounts to find out from a competitor about a software upgrade, new application, or other new product development. If you strive to be an educator and trusted resource for your key accounts, your customers will be less likely to contact a competitor for information or support. Below are some ways to proactively notify your customers about the emergence of new products or services:
- Send a short promotional video featuring the benefits of a new product.
- If customers are nearby, offer to visit their facilities to perform a live demonstration.
- Offer a trade-in allowance to customers interested in a product upgrade.
- Simply reach out by phone periodically to convey news about new products.
By remaining a proactive force in the lives of their customers, key account managers can increase customer satisfaction and maintain customer loyalty. Proactive strategies also encourage customers to invest in your product upgrades and new offerings.