The beginning of the year is commonly a time when we re-evaluate our strategies for the coming months. You know that proactive account planning could be a game changer for you this year. Yet, you still find yourself reacting to circumstances instead creating a strategy that actively drives success.
So how do you make the shift? How do you start driving success for both your business and the key customers you serve?
Let’s explore a few key points below.
An Account Growth Strategy Needs a Proactive Plan
Customers expect so much more today and want to know how important they are to your business. You’ve told them they are a priority; now, they want you to show them. This means working with them as a consultant on issues that may not directly benefit your business but that provides them with advice that adds value to their business. In order for a customer to view you as an integral part of their growth and success, you need to deliver on your promises and exceed their expectations.
Today’s KAM relationships require more customized strategies, which means you need individual relationships with each specific member in their decision-making unit. By fostering these relationships, you’ll know what’s important to each person, which will open the door to more in-depth collaboration and jump-start new business opportunities.
Take time to consider how you can do this better.
Proactive Account Planning Means Better Team Alignment
Combine a proactive key account relationship strategy with an effective communication strategy to align your in-house team members with the customers’ goals. This will nurture closer working relationships, build trust, and reduce the chances of any nasty surprises. However, this must begin within your own organization.
Everyone on your team should be committed to maintaining close relationships with your key accounts, which means working together, collaborating, and supporting each other. For instance, if you promise a key account that they will have priority access to new products or services, you have to depend on Operations to provide this—not sales. It’s important to clearly communicate your customers’ needs to the appropriate team members and then hold them accountable for the delivery.
Developing a communication strategy that aligns the customer’s stakeholders with the key people in your business will ensure that everyone in your organization understands what is happening with each account, what you expect from these individuals or departments, and how important their contributions are in forming a joint success plan. This is a trickle-down effect because making these customers happy is a long-term asset for everyone in your business. Making sure they understand this (and putting the appropriate incentives in place) will go a long way toward exceeding your key customers’ expectations.
Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of Account Health
It’s amazing how so many companies lose their biggest accounts because they fail to provide them the kind of value they seek. These companies are often surprised when the customer chooses to go with a competitor because they are simply unaware that their customer was unhappy to begin with. Don’t let this happen to you. Your competitors are constantly trying to win these customers from you, and the strength of your customer relationships will make all the difference.
Proactive account planning calls for constant questioning, listening, networking, and analyzing because how well you think are doing with your key accounts and how well your customers think you’re doing can be two separate things.
Talk to your key accounts about their goals and how they feel about your relationship. Voice of Customer surveys can be especially helpful in determining the health of your key accounts.
The Four Levels of Customer Success
There are 4 levels by which you can actually affect and change your customers’ perceptions. At level 1, they think of you as a supplier and are basically just looking at pricing and quality. There is no loyalty here. At level 2, if you offer additional benefits to your products/services, they may just stick around. At level 3, you are finding ways to help them achieve their objectives and adding exponential value to the relationship, thereby increasing loyalty. Level 4, however, is where you want to be. This is where they consider you a business partner who offers strategic advice and contributes to their ongoing success.
So which level of service are you providing to your key accounts? And if you’re not there already, what can you do to ramp up your efforts to level 4?
Now is the time to start building these long-term, profitable relationships, nurturing trust, and driving key account growth in more proactive ways.
Curious to see how you can take your Key Account Management skills to the next level? Download this helpful ebook on how to create powerful engagement plans for your key accounts or sign up for a demo of Kapta.