No matter what it is in life, it’s good to be the best at it. Not everyone will be the best point guard in the NBA or the brightest key account manager, however, but even just striving towards the top spot and implementing certain habits and mainstays into your individual workflow and processes can do wonders for your key account management skills and progress in the long run.
In a recent post, we discussed why it is essential for KAM leaders to communicate their vision for the program and the purpose of the what their account managers are doing all the way down the value chain. As we discussed, showing the team that there is a method to the madness and getting them all on board with the program is crucial to driving customer outcomes. When Customer Success is a huge part of what we do, we need to make sure that our entire team thinks beyond the sale and thinks relationship-building over the long run.
Today, we’re going to discuss something in the same vein but at the individual level. Here are a few tips, tricks, and steps to take that can enhance your individual workflow and drive results as a key account manager.
What Are Your Control Factors?
To become a better key account manager and Trusted Advisor for your customers, you need to dedicate five to ten areas of your job that you can improve upon. Typically, we recommend that KAMs find five to ten control factors that they can look at and measure tangible progress throughout the quarter, six months, and year. You should have status updates and track your progress over time, so make sure that these control factors are more than just intangible feelings about your role or impressions of your success, etc.
These control factors should require some sort of investment from yourself. Typically, in this situation, that investment comes in the form of time and/or energy. You’re likely not paying for improvement on yourself unless you’re attending a seminar or workshop, and it’s the time and energy that you’ll spend on your clients that will bring in the best results. Think of it like an experiment to see what skill or practice you have brings the best results and then go all in on that one while bringing up the other attributes through other means.
So, your control factors could be a number of things from emailing customers, running monthly reports, Voice of Customer Interviews, market research for the client, etc. Write out a list of five to ten of these control factors and then consider the ROI of each of them and how they impact your clients. Sort and prioritize the control factors and rank them according to the tasks and actions that are most important down to least important. From now on, these are the factors that you’ll work by and will strive to bring that ROI number up each time you check back in.
Get in the Habit
Knowing and understanding the areas that you want to improve is good and well on its own, but you likely won’t get very far over time if you have to force yourself to get your tasks done for the day. To drive real results and improve the ROI of your efforts, you need to build a habit and keep everything consistent.
Remember, we’re playing the long game here, and in the ideal world, you should grow and learn more with your accounts over the years and will be their trusted advisor for years to come. To get there, you first need to have healthy, productive, results-oriented habits.
Look at your list and consider how you can shape a routine around the top ROI-driving actions and control factors. You want to make it as easy as possible for you to get these tasks and actions done while also challenging yourself to push further and close out every day knowing that you earned your keep in the KAM world.
There are a variety of ways that you can go about this, and there isn’t one wrong or right way to do it. For example, if checking the health score and responding to client inquiries is a top priority for you, you might find that doing that first thing in the morning and as the last thing before shutting down your PC for the night is best. If that works for you, great, if not, find a new approach like doing it in batches throughout the day.
Every KAM will be different just as their control factors and goals will be different as well. As long as you’re keeping track and remaining consistent, you can reach your ROI goals over time.
What Gets Measured Gets Managed
While in a perfect world, simply the act of thinking up some new goals and speaking them into existence would be all you need to accomplish them, that’s just not how it works. Even if you firmly believe that your professional and personal goals will soon be the pillars of your success, without keeping track of them, they are bound to go out of focus in the rearview mirror.
The old saying goes that what gets measured gets managed and it couldn’t be more true than in this specific instance. Just as you used to mark your height on the doorframe when you were younger, you want to mark your accomplishments, progress, and growth as a key account manager as you strive to reach these goals.
As a part of your workflow, you should add in just five minutes a day to track what you did that day in relation to your control factors, what you did better, and any results that you had that day. Even if it’s just having one more phone call than the previous week, you should track and manage all metrics of success.
As you’re doing this, you want to look out for any trends of habits that are accelerating your success. If you notice that any of your new habits or actions are delivering enhanced results, make a note of it. With that information, you can start finetuning your processes and habits and cut the bad old habits and leverage your new good ones. Also, keep in mind the habits and trends that haven’t had an impact or effect on your results or your role as well. While we want to celebrate the positive results that our new habits and actions provide for our clients and us, we also need to stay on the lookout for the things we’re doing that do nothing for our success.
Once we identify this deadweight, we can either get rid of it completely and move forward with only the best habits, or we can choose to enhance it and make the best out the habits. Let’s consider how you could enhance your individual workflow.
Focus on Enhancement
Overall, you want the habits of your daily workflow to provide real results that have effects on your organization’s bottom line. The role of key account manager is much more important and high level than a customer service rep or salesperson even, so having a grasp on the tangible positive goals and results of the company is a must. If you can’t find ways to continually improve your workflow through the introduction of new and better habits and the dismissal of bad habits, then the competition might find ways to improve their customer experience first and leave your company in the dust.
One of the biggest and worst habits that we see key account managers from all experience levels do is using lengthy to-do lists in their workflow. They think that staying busy and jumping from one thing to the next is the answer and will deliver better results for their customers. In actuality, all they are doing is following a tired, fragmented workflow that does nothing more than push priorities to the next day and leaves customers sinking.
Instead of the lengthy to-do lists, you should focus on only three to five things per day that can significantly benefit your accounts. Schedule enough time to get each of them done and try not to get too bogged down in the nitty-gritty details. You want to think about the overarching strategy behind your tasks and actions and if they don’t have potentially huge effects on the account and your customer’s success, consider moving it down the list to a backburner project.
The moral of the story is that you need to have habits that enhance your relationships with customers and the results that you can deliver to them. If your habits make your customers feel like they are unimportant in the grand scheme of your company, you need to forget it immediately. If your habits have a bad or nonexistent track record of success, you need to lose them. Take stock of what your individual workflow involves and if you have items on your to-do list there just to take up space, cross them off because they likely weren’t that important in the first place.
Value can feel like a subjective term these days with every person, client, customer, and account manager defining value as something different to them. One thread that we all share is that value in the KAM sense of the word relates to goals and results. Nothing more and nothing less. You want to provide your clients with tremendous value for the amount they’re paying, and it all starts with your workflow and how you interact with the account.
In your daily work, you need to keep the impact and value that you are providing to your clients in mind. Essentially, to be a Trusted Advisor, your clients and even your managers and the higher-ups in your organization should see you as a worthy investment either through your commission, salary, or the subscription fees your clients pay yearly. If they even have a small inkling that you aren’t worth it, then it becomes a search for the best price, which almost always leads to disastrous results.
One way to bring up your value for your clients is to enhance your workflow and improve your efficiency. More times than not, the most valuable things that customers look for in a key account manager are the attributes that can’t be taught as attentiveness, punctuality, resourcefulness, etc. If you can take the time to build a workflow that works around your best skills, you can not only get more done for your most important clients, but you’ll also prove your worth to them in the long run. Communicate value not only to the team, but to your clients, and reaffirm it with yourself. When you know what you’re good at and what unique skills you bring to the table, you can start creating a workflow that maximizes your best abilities.
We all work differently but sooner or later, optimizing our workflow is a must if we want to keep up with the competition. Key account managers are often the ones that provide the most value in an organization, but before you can start providing value to your clients, you need to understand what makes you so valuable in the first place. Follow these tips and use the right tools, and you can design a workflow that works for you and drives results.
Kapta is less of a KAM software company and more of a relationship company. Rather than producing software that keeps you in the weeds and bogs down your daily work, with the Kapta platform, KAMs can spend more time building relationships and working with their clients rather than stuck in spreadsheets. The tool features a variety of innovative features that KAMs in any industry will find practical, including the Account Planning tools, relationship health score, and contact management. If you want to see how Kapta can change your KAM program, schedule your free demo here.