Welcome to part two of the Holy Grail of Key Account Management series (read part one on being more proactive)! Today I want to talk about the second most crucial aspect of becoming a top-notch account manager: being strategic. This isn’t to be confused with being “tactical” no matter how many times you’ve heard people use the two terms interchangeably.
The primary difference between being strategic and being tactical comes in the duration of time it takes to reach a goal. Acting tactically means you’re focused on the short-term goal. These are small things like onboarding a new client, landing a subscription, etc.
Being strategic, on the other hand, is focused on the long-term success of your key accounts and yourself. You plan methodically and set goals, objectives, actions, and tasks, and you follow your account plan to a tee throughout the year (while also leaving room for adjustments).
Today, we’re going to break down what it means to be a strategic key account manager along with some tips that you can use to shift your thinking away from tactics and towards strategies instantly.
Become the Expert
First and foremost, if you want to be strategic and show your clients that you are worth their trust, you need to become their trusted advisor. To accomplish this and crown yourself that title, you need to become the industry expert in your department. This might take some additional effort on your part, but your hard work will pay off in the end.
By doing your research into your clients’ industries, you can produce better, more specific results for them that will apply directly to their business model. As the expert, you’ll never feel caught off guard when your client asks an industry-specific question, and they’ll even applaud you for being so informed on their unique problems. Look into each of your accounts and ask yourself what you could learn more about. Do your research and become the genius you were born to be.
Focus on the Relationship
One of the core principles of key account management that separates it from traditional account management is the focus on the relationship. Ideally, you’ll come to know your key accounts exceptionally well over the years, and you’ll both see success because of the work that you do on your end.
If you haven’t built a strategic relationship with your accounts yet, that’s fine. There’s no better time to start than now! To achieve this relationship, it all starts with effective communication. Schedule a meeting with your accounts to discuss the current state of the account. You want to know what their long-term goals are, what you could do better to help them achieve these goals and any concerns they have about the future. From there, you can start adjusting your strategy to meet these goals better and get started furthering the relationship between your organization and the client’s company.
Put a Plan into Action
The third step to becoming more strategic in your account management work is to create a plan. Most commonly, this will be an account plan that maps the relationship and details the client’s long-term goals, short-term objectives, along with actions and tasks that will help you get there.
It’s important to note that strategic plans aren’t static. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Think of them as a living document that will shift and change as you adjust your strategy over time. After all, you might plan for one goal three years from now, but things are bound to come up and throw that goal out of whack. For this reason, you should leave some room for adjustment.
Before each meeting with your clients, you’ll review your account to ensure that you’re up to date with the latest news from them. After the meeting, you’ll take any new information that you might have learned and adjust your strategy accordingly. Over time, you’ll find that your account plans look different than when you first started; that’s okay! They’re not meant to be static, as long as they’re still recognizable once you reach your goal, you’re doing great.
The final crucial aspect of becoming a more strategic thinker is to avoid “problem-solving” and think more about “enhancements.” Let me explain. When you’re problem-solving, you’re essentially rushing to put out a fire in an emergency and then moving on with the rest of your work. When you think about the work you do for key accounts as “enhancements” you’re creating solutions that will make their experience better.
You’re taking proactive steps to encourage the growth of the relationship rather than rushing to react to the latest problem. When coupled with a proactive mindset, you can avoid any devastating problems and can instead focus on improving your strategy and enhancing the account.
This takes some creative thinking, and you’ll likely have to abandon some of your traditional approaches to account management. Even so, if you can effectively shift your thinking towards enhancement, your accounts will notice the difference, and you’ll have greater success in reaching your goals.
Becoming a more strategic key account manager can take some time depending on your existing habits and mindset. Even so, it’s not impossible for account managers to adopt a strategic mindset even after working with a client for years. Think ahead to the long-term and stop focusing on the short-term problem-solving tasks. You’ll have an easier time staying on track to conquer your goals and your relationships with accounts will be stronger because of it.
How Kapta Can Help
Behind every successful account manager is a software platform that makes their day-to-day working lives easier and more efficient. Kapta is what your existing CRM wishes it could be. Inside, you’ll find powerful tools like account planning templates that will take the guesswork out of creating your strategy.
You’ll also find additional tools like Voice of Customer Insights that will show you where you stand. If you want to see how Kapta can help shape your strategic mind, request a free demo today.