2020 has been a wild ride, to put it mildly. And the only thing that’s certain, unfortunately, is that there’s more uncertainty to come. 2021 has become somewhat of a north star for life returning to “normal” (whatever that will mean), but the truth is that the closer we get to the start of the new year, the less likely it seems we’ll see any major changes to our day-to-day anytime soon.
Along with every other part of life being turned upside down, work and business is an area of huge unease for many right now. If you’re fortunate enough to have kept a steady job and paying clients this year, you know that demonstrating value is more important than ever. As a Key Account Manager, there are a few strategic boxes you should check as the door closes on one strange year, and opens up to what may be another strange one to come. Here’s Kapta’s checklist to set Key Account Managers up as indispensable partners for 2021 success.
Follow the Kapta KAM Process™
Call us biased, but we believe that the best course for advancement—especially through seasons of doubt—always goes back to Our KAM Process™ of Know, Act, Measure. The KAM Process™ helps you minimize busywork and put your customers first, aligning your success with theirs so that everyone wins. But it’s not just a clever acronym or a one-time action; followed closely, the KAM Process™ requires ongoing personal attention, strategic thinking and human connection. You’re likely already doing these things in various ways; here are our steps for removing the noise and staying on-track.
Step 1: Know Your Customer
To be human is to want to be understood. Your customers are no different, and if you view them through this primitive lens, you’ll always have a leg up. Getting beyond names and titles to understand your customer’s needs and goals is the best thing you can do to ensure you’ll be the partner the customer wants to take into the future. Consider the following tactical exercises to help build a 360-degree view of your client and their priorities for the coming year.
- Engage in Updated Voice of Customer Interviews: Now is the time to get back in front of your clients—especially if it’s been a while—to position yourself as a hero by asking great questions and diving deeper into your customer’s needs. Are you clear on your customer’s goals for 2021? How can those goals align with your business goals? Kapta’s Voice of Customer tools provide pre-populated surveys and questions to kick-start this interview process, but it shouldn’t be a matter of just an emailed survey. Use this valuable time of transition to engage with your clients face-to-face, to get a sense of their specific needs. Ask yourself how you can remove risk for your clients. What can you to do service your client, that also allows you to minimize risk for your business?
- Refresh Org. Charts and Client Profiles: Make sure your client org. charts are up to date. Do you have detailed profiles for all of your key contacts? Do you know who’s running the day-to-day versus who’s making the big decisions? Everyone on your team should share this knowledge, so be sure to take the time needed to address any gaps.
- Reassess Your SWOT Analysis: Once you’re sure you have the current scope of your customer’s big picture, apply Kapta’s SWOT framework to test and prioritize their strategy and objectives. Remember that SWOT exercises are best done in a workshop setting; use your insights in cooperation with the customer, and keep them front and center in 2021 account planning and goal setting.
Step 2: Act Purposefully
If you take the time to ask thoughtful questions, update and keep detailed stakeholder profiles and assess areas of strength, weakness, opportunity and threat, you’ve got the elements needed to create a standout, proactive account plan.
Strong account plans should include explicit objectives and meaningful tactics to get there, all with clear ownership. But account planning isn’t a one-sided show—alignment between your team and the customer is critical to executing a successful plan. Goals, statuses, notes, and all other details should be organized in a centralized hub, and changes and milestones should be shared among the team and with the customer on a regular basis.
Remember that ideas and strategy, alone, are just that; turning ideas and strategy into clear, results-oriented action is what will help you build trust and value with your customer, particularly in times of uncertainty.
Step 3: Measure Progress
Of course regular reporting is a requisite to demonstrate progress against your customer’s predetermined KPIs, but challenge yourself to be more than just a reporting robot, and think about ways that reporting can help you shine. How can data and reporting be used creatively to illustrate what’s working, as well as what’s not? If you can put reporting in front of a client in a way they may not have thought to look at it previously, you’ll show the customer that you’re more than an average partner, and that you’re willing to walk the extra mile in their favor.
Another method for gauging performance is to take a broad evaluation of an account’s overall customer engagement, satisfaction and success. Kapta’s account health score algorithm helps put a grade to an account’s general health; this can help designate areas that may need attention.
Lastly, if in the process of getting to know your customer, you’ve also taken the time to make sure your goals align with theirs, it should be easy to identify wins and opportunities for celebration. Taking time to commemorate victories big and small will foster a stronger customer relationship; if you can celebrate with your client, you’re more likely to be given the chance to recreate that success later on.
Real customer engagement can’t be automated, and as the year roars to a close, you should think about the skills, resources and actions that are in your control, and focus less on everything that’s not (the pandemic and the economy, for better or worse, will chart their own course). Lead with a customer-centric, strategic and human approach to help keep your business and your customers on track heading into 2021. To see how Kapta can support, accelerate and mentor your efforts, schedule a personal demo today.