When you think of any professional athlete, no matter their skill or talent level, they all have great coaching behind them. After every championship win, what’s the first thing that they say in the interview? They thank their teammates and their coaching staff.
Without coaching, LeBron would just be a skilled basketball player but wouldn’t make nearly as many Finals appearances. Tom Brady wouldn’t have five Super Bowl rings without Bill Belichick, and the list goes on.
Just because your team members aren’t playing on a football field or basketball court doesn’t mean that you aren’t coaching them every day. Even the most skilled account managers need coaching, and without it, they might not ever reach their full potential.
Today, we’re going to discuss some tips and trick to help you become a better key account management coach. These actionable tips will help you push your team even further, ultimately delivering greater value and service to all of your customers.
As a manager, it’s easy to get caught up in the results mindset. You coach your team to increase the value of an account, increase subscriptions, etc. The problem with this thinking is that it skips many of the critical steps that lead to the results. Think about the sports analogy again: do you think Bill Belichick coaches the team only to win or do you think he coaches them on the skills it takes to win?
You can’t just coach your team and say “Do this. Do that.” Instead, if you want real, repeatable results, you should focus on the skills and behaviors that will make them better account managers. If you focus on the behaviors, the results will soon follow.
Make Time for the Team
The second most important thing that you must do is to make time to listen to your team. Notice how I said make time not simply take time. The difference here is that you should drop non-essential activities to listen to your team. If you don’t make time, you’ll eventually push off these important meetings in favor of other priorities. You need to communicate with the team to see how they’re doing in their account management efforts.
By making the time to listen to your team’s questions and concerns you can better correct your coaching strategies to serve the team better. If you were to merely force an account management strategy onto the team without their input, they would eventually veer off course in favor of a system that works better for them. Avoid this devastating situation by developing a system around their needs, concerns, and goals.
Practice Active Listening
Going off of the last point, make sure that when you speak to your team, you aren’t passively listening. Primarily, their concerns and questions shouldn’t go in one ear and out the other. Instead, make sure that you clearly understand their questions, comments, and concerns.
This is the practice known as active listening, and it can be your most effective tool for creating the key account management strategy that will provide significant benefits for your clients and your organization. When you make the time to sit down with your team either collectively or on an individual basis, make sure that everyone has the chance and feels comfortable honestly expressing themselves.
You should ask open-ended questions rather than simple “yes” or “no” types of things like “do you like the program?” Instead, ask questions like “how could your work be more effective?” or “what changes would you like to see in the next few months?” As long as you create an atmosphere that encourages honesty, you should be able to learn a lot about your team and their feelings about their work.
Also, make sure that you repeat back to your team what you heard. It might sound silly, but you’d be surprised how much can be lost and misinterpreted. Repeat the answer that the team gave while also using your own words to show that you understand what they meant. This serves a couple of purposes. The most important reason to repeat back is that it shows that you understood their concern and will reassure them that you’re a manager that cares and wants to see them succeed; not just bark orders.
Find Out What Works
Along with finding out what your team is having trouble with, you should also learn more about the things that are working well for them. By identifying the areas that are working well, you can start to observe trends and learn more about the account management style of each player in the department. With these trends and patterns in mind, you can shift the entire strategy to focus on the right parts and stray away from the elements of the program that your team doesn’t like.
Being able to accurately assess and identify trends is a core element of being a better key account management coach. It can be hard to spot these trends at first especially if you don’t have much experience coaching a team to success. Even so, as you start to practice these principles, over time, you’ll be able to call an audible and adjust strategy on the fly so your team can see more success and the performance of your key accounts can increase.
Being the best key account management coach you can be takes time, and even some coaches need coaching every once in a while. Make sure that learning more about key account management strategies is a priority for you and read and practice as much as possible. Be sure to subscribe to the Kapta blog for future blog posts on the topic that you can put into practice and lead your key account management team to success.