A typical company setting involves sales personnel often seen either with their noses deeply buried into their laptops or on the phone, in deep conversation with somebody important on the other end of the line.
An account manager is a member of this team, and is often on the front line, tasked to handle various clients or customers who bring profit to the business. A deep professional relationship is usually formed with the bigger clients. Along with this comes a responsibility to sustain the mutually profitable through the right key account management.
The goal of key account management (KAM) is for sellers to evolve from typical supplier/provider to business partner. Once a company reaches this level, companies are actually willing to pay a premium for services because of a strong, deep relationship.
This requires a deeper level of account management plus a deep understanding of the client’s business issues. Oftentimes, salespeople just focus on mastering their product knowledge but not really the issues of the company.
One system of good key account management is when your company becomes the preferred partner, and your contact is not limited solely to procurement, which buys based on lowest price alone.
Keep in mind that not all clients you are selling to are key accounts, so you need to be sure about the difference between a real key account and a standard account.
A key account is made up of clients, either by a person or group of people, whom you’ve built more than a standard business relationship with based on the trust level you’ve established with your buyers.
The dynamic of the relationship would ideally change from a vendor-buyer to more of a mutual partnership wherein you are helping each other’s company succeed. Based on this kind of relationship, you can group your accounts by types and classification.
After distinguishing which your least to high-value customers are, you will be able to plot your account strategies as you see fit. When it comes to creating and running key account management strategies, however, there is no standard rule that needs to be followed. Each of your key accounts will have its own way of being handled, including how to improve specific areas to bolster your relationship with them.
“What gets measured gets managed,” according to Austrian-born management consultant Peter Drucker (and the man knows what he’s talking about). Metrics and KPIs should be an integral part of an excellent key account management strategy. Through the proper benchmarking against competitors and internal clients, you will be able to study achievements in key account management programs in all levels.
Key account management stands by a customer-first approach, which means your success is built around your customer’s success. Through the understanding of your customer’s challenges, motivations and goals, you can better address their needs. A customer-first mindset helps make sure your partnership is strengthened for the years to come.
There is as much art as there is science in key account management. So, you must strike the right balance between treating your customers like a priceless painting and using a precise and measurable approach.
With a good KAM program in place, you can determine the less successful accounts sooner, allowing you to make informed decisions like redirecting vital resources to more favorable opportunities. This would mean constant reviews on all key accounts while keeping an eye on customers who are growing and showing much potential.
Both company values and culture are two things you won’t necessarily look at from a business standpoint, but they are great indicators of key account management. The more you have in common with your client, the more likely you can work together and be on the same page, making it easier to grow both your businesses as partners.
Utilizing an effective key account management strategy is crucial in building your business since your client’s – or partner’s – success is interdependent with yours. Your approach should be both strategic and adaptive, with infectious optimism to address your client’s needs.
For a more in-depth understanding on how to apply this in your own business, you can always undergo key account management training. Keep in mind that if all your key accounts are left satisfied with how you treat them and their business, it is guaranteed your partnership will grow and stand the test of time.
Filed Under Sales and Marketing