Client Success is an integral program that can make or break a business’ success in the modern age. With so many choices in the software and services world, it’s the experience and relationships that you’ll have with your customers that will drive your revenue goals. Your strategic accounts are everything, and if you’re doing your job right and nourishing the accounts correctly, you should be everything to their organization as well.
Conceptualizing a key account management program for your organization is one thing, but getting it to stick long enough to see real results can be an entirely different challenge in itself. Why is this? It typically boils down to the fact that most corporate change programs fail. Change at the organization-wide level is no easy feat to pull off, and with other departments involved and shifting job titles, it can take some doing to get everybody on board.
So, how do you make your new key account management program succeed? Let’s take a closer look at some of the pre-planning elements and steps to take to build a key account management program from the ground up that drives real results.
Focus on the Big Change
Mindset is everything when trying to implement a new change management program into an organization. If the leaders of the program don’t have the right mindset, getting everybody else on board can be tricky. To build a Client Success program that sticks, you need to focus on the big change rather than get bogged down in the minor details of day-to-day work.
Getting a key account management program off of the ground can be a significant change and you shouldn’t overlook it or rush through any of the foundational steps, or the program will struggle to carry its weight once the rubber meets the road.
The big changes that a key account management program will bring to your company mostly relate to how you interact with customers, how you grow their relationships, and what your end goals are for each of the accounts. With this big change in your business, allow it to motivate and inspire the entire team. Before they can become inspired, however, you need to get their support.
Get the Buy-In
Not everyone is so quick to accept a new change in the way that they achieve their daily work. While sales coordinators and reps might not experience the most significant changes from the new key account management program, your account managers and clients are going to see their duties shift.
For this reason, it’s crucial that you have the buy-in and support from leadership and the account management teams. If they aren’t buying into the program before it’s off the ground, you’ll find that if and when problems arise, they’ll be less inclined to jump into action to make changes or even worse, they won’t look for new areas to improve upon in the processes of the program. You need this support, and when the entire organization is invested in the program, they’ll want to see it succeed, creating momentum that will lift your bottom line.
When going for the buy-in, consider what each party wants. The CEO and Senior Executives will want different things than what the sales coordinators want and vice-versa. Present the new Client Success program as the solution to all of their problems, and you’ll gather the support you need.
Sharpen Your Skills
Another core component of any successful Client Success program are the skills and behaviors behind the account managers. As you’re getting the new Client Success program off the ground, investing in the team and their skills can pay its dividends in the long-run. Not everyone is cut out to be a successful key account manager, and not everyone has the natural abilities and behaviors needed to nourish, grow, and maintain mutually successful relationships.
Look into coaching programs, seminars, courses, and training organizations that will help get your team up to speed and ready to tackle their key account plans. Some of the core skills necessary include empathy, organization, proactive behaviors, and more. Make sure that your key account managers are ready to lead their accounts into the future and have everything it takes to hold the title of Trusted Advisor.
Embrace Feedback and Criticism
Feedback is a crucial part of growing a key account management program and ensuring that it sticks. Without feedback and honest, open communication between the teams and upper management, it’s hard to determine areas for improvement before it’s too late. For this reason, you should offer feedback and take it as well.
Some managers implementing a new key account management program might assume a defensive mindset where any criticism or feedback is a direct reflection on them. While it’s true that this new program is essentially your brainchild, you should want to see it improved and developed and accepting feedback is a significant component to that.
Foster a community of growth and encourage every member of the organization to share their thoughts and experiences with the program. With their input, you can make changes and adapt the program to better fit everyone’s need, and they’ll be more willing to fight for its success.
Start Small and Build Momentum
Every change management program will cause disruptions to daily duties and the way that the organization interacts with customers. It’s up to you whether that disruption will be minor or major. To avoid throwing everything out of whack, you should take baby steps and carefully plan for the launch of your new Client Success program. If you were to rush into the program, you might miss key steps in the process, and the program will struggle.
You want to make sure that everything runs smoothly from start to finish. With the right steps and components in place beforehand the more likely the program will stick. Make a plan that details every step of the process and stick to the plan. Take baby steps, and you’ll start building momentum that will ultimately lead your organization and your key accounts to success.