Key account management can present a number of challenges. Pain points can arise in the form of lost accounts, revenue loss from key clients, lost growth opportunities, and miscommunication with key accounts. When planning effective key account management strategies, one should always take a proactive approach, rather than a reactive one.
Below are 5 beneficial practices you can adopt when planning a successful key account management strategy.
1. Be an Ally to Key Accounts
Work toward the goals of both expanding and protecting your key account client businesses. This means applying a long-term approach to understanding what your key customers need and how you can support and help them achieve their business goals. This practice includes observing the way your client’s businesses function and how they approach business communications and competitive situations. This will help you better personalize your service to them and understand how to approach the key account relationship. In short, the goal here is to maintain and evolve positive relationships with your key clients, positioning yourself as their strategic business ally.
2. Assign a Key Account “Champion”
Put someone in charge of key account management in your company—something on the order of a key account management “manager.” Harvard Business Review refers to this person as the key account management “champion.”
This champion ensures that key account management is practiced at all levels and educates other managers and employees on the importance of paying special attention to the needs of key account clients. This person is a communicator and an organizer, working to keep client needs in perspective, with regard to your company’s day-to-day interactions with key account clients.
3. Involve Your C-Suite
Recruit effective sponsors, high up within your company, for each of your key accounts. This provides another watchful eye for each account, and it shows the client that they are valued. Harvard Business Review offers this example: “Members of the main board of Siemens, including the CEO, each sponsor a number of key accounts and visit them regularly.”
4. Communicate Key Account Needs With Your Entire Team
Recognize that a key account management strategy should apply to the whole company—not just the sales department. Restructure your business approach to familiarize everyone in the company with key account management and its practices and goals. Make a special effort to train your key account managers, emphasizing the need to keep everyone, at all levels of the company, apprised of the actions, requirements, and goals of individual clients. This way, employees in each tier of the business can remain aware of the specific needs and goals of each client and keep those goals in mind when carrying out business with those customers.
5. Give Key Accounts the Attention They Deserve
Keep the number of key accounts assigned to each account manager at a manageable level. In this case, less is more. Key account managers should have adequate time, attention, and resources to devote to each of their key accounts, so they can ensure they’re being the ally we discussed in point 1. If your key account clients aren’t getting the attention they need or feel they deserve, they’ll ultimately feel resentful and dissatisfied with your company. These are usually the first customers to leave you. Therefore, as your number of key accounts grows, make sure you are hiring enough account managers to comfortably maintain them.
You can see that there are a number of approaches to maintaining and evolving your key account planning strategies. Note that all of these approaches involve the application of a proactive business plan, designed to cater to your key account clients’ goals. These approaches will serve your company well as you navigate varying, often bumpy, business terrain and work to grow your roster of satisfied and loyal key accounts.
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.