How do you create your account plans? Do you start from scratch every time or have a template? Are they chronological with specific points along the journey, or do they read more like a checklist of goals? Whatever the case may be, if you’re creating account plans or at least want to make yours better along the way, you’re already on the right track, but lately, we’ve found that borrowing from the marketing matrix can help you better format your account plans.
Today, we’ll take a look at how you can use your customer experience journey, map it, and integrate it into your account plans for a more precise, accurate, and predictive plan. If you do it correctly, you can better predict what your customer might do next based on the actions of preview clients and even influence them at the right time for more premium services.
Why Map the Customer Experience?
If you don’t already have journey maps in place in your organization, you might wonder what they are in the first place. In many cases, marketing departments make use of the customer journey maps because they follow them from initial contact all the way through to their purchase. For marketing efforts, it’s crucial to understand the customer journey and set checkpoints along the way so they can consistently optimize their efforts and find new ways to make the buying process easier for the customer and the selling process easier for them.
It’s no secret that key account management and marketing are two entirely separate things. While marketing is concerned with reeling in new customers, you’re more concerned with keeping your clients happy and their goals moving forward. However, just because you two are working towards different goals doesn’t mean that you can’t borrow each other’s tools to help you get there.
A Customer Journey Map will help you create more streamlined account plans that realistically reflect the steps, pain points, goals, and needs of a customer as they develop a relationship. If you can get your art of relationship building down to a science with this new, revamped account plan, you’ll have better odds of repeating that success with future clients. Let’s take a look at some of the components of a typical customer journey map and how they can relate to your key account management efforts.
Components of a Typical Customer Journey Map
In a typical Customer Journey Map, you’re going to find a few of the following components:
First, you’ll have buyer personas, which are essentially a representation of your target customers (in your case, your current customers) that includes details about their demographics, age, job title, experience, etc. Depending on your services, you might want to track different demographic metrics, and things such as job title and experience will be more important than their age.
Second, you’ll have the most important component when related to key account management, and that’s the customer stages segment. Before you can map out the entire process from pre-sale to delivery, you’ll need to figure out the various stages that your customers go through to get to your brand in the first place. With a better understanding of all of the stages along the way, you can better influence the customer’s behavior, improve your services, and provide them with more value in your account management work.
Third, in order to create an account plan based around the customer journey map, you need an in-depth appreciation and understanding of your customer’s goals and how they relate to your products and services. Key account management is all about delivering the win-win outcomes that will practically guarantee success time and time again. With this in-depth understanding, you can create a winning game plan that you can use to replicate for success organization-wide.
Fourth, you should have a clear-cut timeframe in mind for the account plan. While nothing in life ever stays on schedule 100% of the time, having at least some way to measure the time that’s passed between each step will ensure that your customer is moving through the purchase cycle smoothly and you’re delivering the right results and the right advice at the right time.
Finally, you need to leave room in your customer journey map for your customer’s emotions. Key account management might be all about business on the outside, but in reality, it’s a very emotional experience on both ends. You need to make sure that you are keeping your customers satisfied and impressing them time and time again with your products and services. With these emotions, you also need a backup plan for the times they are upset with you, and if you have worked with clients before, you know they can get pretty upset from time to time.
With all of these components, let’s consider the actual stages that your customer goes through during the journey.
The Phases from Pre-Sale to Delivery
So, to fill out your new account plan, it’s best to fill in the top line with at least a few of the important phases that your customers go through from pre-sale to delivery and beyond. Typically, it all starts with awareness, but rather than thinking in the marketing sense where your customer is first becoming aware of your company, since they already work with you, it’s more related to their awareness of new products or services that your company is offering.
After awareness, they move into the consideration and decision stage. They’ll be weighing their options and deciding whether, based on their past experience with you, the new product or service is worth the extra investment. Before your client gets to this stage, you need to have a strong argument and a record to brag about to them to showcase their wins, growth, and how you have helped their organization become better.
The final stage is conversion and retention where they will agree to add these new services or products to their subscription, and you keep them on as a client, with just more revenue coming from them every month. With this final stage complete, you can then essentially start the entire journey over again and rinse and repeat.
Using a customer experience journey map for account planning can help you become more predictive of how your customers respond, but these phases are just a high-level view of how it all works. The reality is, there are still a few blanks that you need to fill in to ensure that your key account management team is a well-oiled, smooth-running machine.
What Are Your Customers’ Pain Points?
The first set of blanks that you want to fill in with your account plans are the pain points that your customers experience along the way. Every organization will have different customers, and these customers might have wildly different pain points as well. It’s crucial that you understand not only what makes your customers happy, but what their annoyances have been in the past. Whether they have complaints about you or other service providers, with a better understanding of their pain points, you can better target them and sell more effectively.
You should consider the pain points for every phase of the buyer journey and how you can capitalize on them and help your customers overcome them throughout the process. For example, during the initial awareness stage, your customers might have found in the past that they couldn’t ever learn about how a product or service directly relates to their organization and goals. Instead, they were met with a pushy salesperson that promised anything and everything it took to get them to sign up. To overcome this, you do what you do best, and come to them as their Trusted Advisor that knows about their business, goals, challenges, and hopes for the future, and you can present your premium services as the specific solution.
Understanding these pain points of your customer will enable you to speak their language and really reach out without having to push too hard. Your job is to listen, and if your account plan is tight and holds water, you can predict when if the best time to sell to them along with objections they might have, and what they are most worried about in the process.
How Could the Process be Easier for Your Team?
While your customers’ pain points are important to understand, you also want to consider the internal pain points of your team. How could their lives be easier? Being a key account manager is a pretty stressful job, and there are a ton of moving pieces. What snags do you always hit when trying to work with your clients? For some, it might be that they don’t have enough insight into their clients, for others it could be that their technology and tools aren’t up to date, leaving them to do their job the hard way.
Consult with other members of your team and listen to determine ways that your internal processes could be improved. Specifically, you want to know the pain points associated with account plans and how they improve their relationships. Whether it means you need to invest in a new account management package with included Account Plan Templates or it means that you need to reduce the time it takes to onboard a client, track all pain points and incorporate fallback plans into your account plans.
Make Your Account Plans Actionable
Along with laying out the phases of the customer journey and what you plan to do for your customer in each one, you need to make sure that your account plan is actionable. You should be able to jump to any point and see a clear set of instructions on what to do next. As you’re writing and building out your account plans, consider what would be a good step for you to take, no matter how big or small.
For every action item, you should list who is in charge along with ideal delivery dates to keep the entire process moving forward and on time. You want to set your sights high but also keep everything in perspective, so you aren’t overpromising your clients anything and setting yourself up for failure. Make everything actionable and more like a to-do list so you can ensure that you never miss your opportunity down the line to either bolster sales or grow the relationship at the minimum.
Continually Make Improvements
Finally, it’s important to remember that your account plans aren’t written in stone. You should always look for new opportunities for improvement and update them as your clients’ needs and wants change, and as they move through the buyer journey. This proactive approach will keep things fresh and prevent you from making the same mistake again and again.
If you at any point identify an area that isn’t quite working, don’t just keep doing it over and over again with hopes you’ll have different results and fix it! With that in mind, you also don’t need to reinvent the wheel whenever you onboard a new client or one moves through the customer journey. Using Kapta, you’ll be able to reuse old account plan templates and repeat your success with every client.
How Kapta Can Help
As an all-in-one enterprise key account management platform, Kapta allows you to do more for your organization’s biggest clients. By getting your account managers out of the spreadsheets and onto the phone, you can focus more on the relationship that you develop with your top 20% of clients rather than pushing digits around. Kapta features a selection of innovative account management tools like Voice of Customer (VOC) Insights, account health score, and account plan templates so you can generate more revenue, build relationships, and achieve your customer’s goals almost automatically. See where you stand with its visualization tools and streamline your workflow with Kapta.
Schedule a free demo of Kapta and see for yourself here.