Customers matter the most for any business. But it is not just all the customers who really drive growth but some key ones who propel you ahead. Known as the key accounts, these are the ones that you would want to focus on. Of course, this does not mean that you can ignore the rest but your “hero” customers definitely deserve special attention. This is the reason why businesses invest in account management strategy.
The thought behind this strategy is that closing the sale is just half the work done as you have to work on strengthening long-term relationships with the customers. This is exactly what a key account manager can do for you as they establish, strengthen and nurture long-term relationships that drive sustenance and growth for your business. Following these account management best practices can put your business ahead of the curve.
Develop selection criteria for key accounts
Perhaps the most critical aspect of account management is establishing the key accounts in the first place. While all customers are valuable to a business, not all can be considered as a key account. You need to be selective so that you can focus on the ones that can really bring value. Consider selection criteria such as product fit, cultural fit, revenue potential, growth potential, existing relationships and solvency to determine the worthy accounts.
Assign dedicated account managers
Assigning dedicated account managers to the accounts identified is the next step to a successful program. Remember that these individuals are separate from the sales team as they are meant to nurture accounts rather than promote sales. If you try to mix their roles, you may achieve nothing in the end. The objective of strategic account management differs from that of sales and requires a different approach and skillset to customer relationships.
Focus on growing the number of key accounts
So you have identified the key accounts and assigned dedicated managers to handle them? This is not where you should stop; rather you need to focus on growing their number. Alex Raymond from Kapta (https://kapta.com/) says it’s important to know which of your clients are satisfied and which accounts may need attention. The latter may have huge potential that you can unlock by just going the extra mile to understand where you lack and how you can address the gap.
Create comprehensive customer profiles
Another account management best practice you should adhere to is creating comprehensive profiles for each of the customers. Develop in-depth portfolios by assessing aspects such as their goals and initiatives, competition and markets, key decision-makers and stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities. Also, aim to understand their challenges and pain points so that you can address them and give the customers value through collaboration.
Selling your offerings to the customers is one part of the picture and nurturing relationships with them is the other. Another aspect of account management that is less prominent (yet vital) is imparting knowledge. Don’t consider that your work is done once you sell it to the customer. You are also responsible for providing the knowledge and expertise so that they can derive maximum value from the product they buy from you. Implement this tactic as a part of your account management strategy and you will definitely see the difference.
Be accountable to the customer
Building relationships is all about being accountable to your customers. Don’t sell and forget if you want to create long-term trust and have them back again. Rather than giving them short-term fixes, provide long-term solutions to their challenges and pain points. Make it a point not to sell them anything that will not add value to their business. This approach will foster the trust that not only drives retention but also motivates the existing customers to promote you through word-of-mouth referrals.
Account management is not a one-time job. You need to consistently measure and monitor the performance on each account to understand whether you are going in the right direction. Beyond just tracking your performance, it also helps you to assess the worthiness of the account and whether it is good enough to pursue. The ultimate goal is a mutual long-term benefit and you need not invest in the ones that do not seem to drive value for your business.
Strategic account management is vital for driving business growth, which is the reason why you must invest in it. At the same time, you should ensure that you are following the best practices, taking the right approach and targeting the right accounts so that you do not end up wasting your time and efforts.