Welcome to Part One of our two-part series on the Holy Grail of Key Account Management! In this and the next post, we’ll be discussing two of the most critical aspects of becoming the best key account manager you can be and provide more value for your clients.
The first and arguably one of the most important attributes of a successful key account manager is being proactive. What separates key account managers from other salespeople is their proactive approach to their accounts. They’re always looking for new ways to provide their clients with value, and they don’t wait for a problem to arise and react to it. Instead, they anticipate their client’s next problem and have a solution locked and loaded.
Let’s take a look at a few of the ways that you can become a more proactive key account manager.
Make a Schedule
In busy professional work, your life is probably ruled by to-do lists and schedules. Have you thought about implementing a schedule for your key accounts? A common misstep we have seen key account managers make time and time again is the failure to schedule essential events and actions for their key accounts.
If you want to be more proactive in your account management efforts, you need to stay on the ball and know when to hold a meeting with them, when to discuss specific goals with them, etc. It might sound silly to schedule something like this so far ahead, but it’s essential to remaining proactive and becoming the best key account manager that you can be.
Another thing worth pointing out is that just because you schedule specific events doesn’t mean you’re automatically a more proactive account manager. Scheduling is one thing but sticking to the schedule is entirely different. Make sure that you hold yourself to the plan and make that phone call when you’ve scheduled it no matter what else is happening that day. If it’s on your schedule, it needs to be done.
Hold Yourself Accountable
Following the last point, another essential element of becoming more proactive is holding yourself accountable. Not only should you hold yourself accountable for sticking to your schedule, but you should hold yourself accountable in nearly every aspect of the key account.
This could mean holding yourself accountable to your commitments to key accounts, your promises, or even small things like conducting a quarterly review. By keeping yourself accountable, you’ll be more productive and will stay on the ball. Pretend as if you’re your client; what would you expect you to do today? Gain a new perspective and make sure that you are putting in your best work and sticking to your account plan.
Follow Through on Your Promises
Here’s a new rule: if you make a promise to a key account, you must follow through as if your job depends on it. Sure, you could probably make a commitment and under deliver a couple of times, but after a while this gets old, and your clients will start looking for the door. They depend on you to be their trusted advisor and partner in their success. If you consistently under deliver and break your promises, you’re betraying their trust.
With this in mind, you should avoid overpromising too. It’s best to follow the old phrase, “under promise and over deliver” here. You want to not only meet your client’s expectations but blow past them altogether. Exceed their wildest expectations, and your key accounts will see you as the proactive hero for their success.
Pick Up the Phone
Another critical part of becoming a more proactive key account manager is initiating the conversation. Too many times key account managers will assume that no news is good news and if their client hasn’t called, it must mean that everything is fine. The problem with this thinking is that it’s reactive, not proactive.
Sure, most of the time everything probably is fine, but what about those times that it isn’t? Your clients will appreciate you even more if you call them before they experience a problem, not after. This type of proactive communication goes far in the long run and works well to further establish your relationship as their trusted advisor and guidance counselor for success.
Do you have account plans for each of your key accounts? Okay, here’s a second question: do you actually stick to these account plans? Sitting down to create an account plan for each of your most important clients can take time and feel like a hassle. What’s more, even if you create the plan and put effort into planning each action, task, and goal, thing’s come up, and many account managers deviate from the plan.
While you can’t predict everything that will happen throughout the year, your end goal should never change, and it’s the smaller actions that might need minor tweaks here and there. Kapta has a great selection of account planning templates that could come in handy in the case. Instead of starting from scratch each time, you can use one of the pre-made templates and fill in the blanks.
Whenever something changes, you can adjust your actions while staying on course for success. Thinking ahead is just a part of the proactive matrix. To truly become the most proactive account manager in your department, you need to take action.
Take Action Before It’s Necessary
The final point I’d like to make relates to doing more than is necessary. This means that you take action to correct a minor issue before it becomes a big problem. It doesn’t even need to be an issue or bad thing either. Maybe you know that your client is getting ready to start a new program in their organization and they’ll need your help in a few weeks.
Instead of waiting for them to ask for help, you can jump on the ball before it’s necessary. This is the ultimate form of being proactive, and if you can master this strategy, you’ll be a better account manager because of it.
How Kapta Can Help
Kapta is chock full of innovative account management features that will help you stay organized while avoiding tedious day-to-day tasks. With Kapta, being more proactive is straightforward. Stay tuned for part two in our Holy Grail of Key Account Management series!