To be a successful key account manager or even just an effective salesperson, you need to understand the wants and needs of your customers. With this in mind, being a salesperson and a key account manager are two different roles altogether, and your customers will expect different things.
One challenge that many new key account managers face is understanding their customers on a deeper level so they can provide the perfect solution at the perfect moment. Luckily, there are great minds at work trying to better understand the role of the key account manager along with the needs and expectations of key accounts.
CSO Insights/Miller Heiman came up with a well-written report of the Buyer-Seller Gap and also discussed interesting data and statistics related to the relationship key account managers have with their clients.
Today, I want to take a moment to discuss the expectations that your customers have for you. Once you understand what your key account wants, you can serve their needs better and make more significant progress on their account plan.
What Your Customer Wants
The first and most crucial thing that your customer expects of you is a deep understanding of their business. The guide from CSO Insights points out that most customers have very little tolerance for explaining their business and company goals to salespeople over and over. They expect that you’ve done the necessary research beforehand which helps save both parties precious time.
When you think about a B2C relationship, the guide points out that when a consumer visits a website, they generally assume that the seller will already understand their tastes and offer them products and services essentially custom-tailored to their needs. Why should a B2B relationship be any different?
The primary problem on the selling side lies in the time it takes to research and understand your customers’ needs. The best approach is to stay consistent and devote a certain period to research and learning each day. Over time, you’ll learn to understand all of your accounts on a deeper level.
Demonstrate Superior Communication Skills
In the past, you might have gotten away with simple follow-up and check-in calls to your clients, but when it comes to key account management, your clients expect more. They want an experience, and every interaction should provide value to them. In this case, less might be more, as long as each call and meeting with them maximizes the time you have to speak with them.
Essentially, you want to treat each interaction with the client as a crucial experience. You need to bring your A-Game and prepare beforehand to make sure that you cover every area of the relationship so both you and the customer can hang up the phone feeling accomplished. In other words, every interaction needs to be worth the time you’re using.
Focus on Post-Sale
While you might feel like the sale itself brings the most value to your organization, if you want to bring even more value to your key accounts, the post-sale period is even more crucial. All too often, salespeople put most of their energy during the buying process. This might work if you’re a used car salesman, but as a key account manager, your role isn’t to make a quick sale and call it a day. Instead, your purpose is to continue providing support and guidance to the account as their Trusted Advisor.
According to buyer feedback in the 2018 Buyer Preferences Study, “It isn’t enough to just sell a company a product. There has to be a continued interest in its success.”
This finding works in conjunction with your role as their Trusted Advisor and partner in their success. While a salesperson might care more about the buying process, the customer wants to see real results from the solutions you provide them. So, if you’re going to be an effective key account manager, make sure you’re thinking ahead to the post-sale phase and adapt your account plans accordingly.
Provide them with Insights
The final expectation from buyers is the most complex, elusive, and most impactful. As the key account manager and the trusted advisor, you need to be able to provide your clients with valuable insights that they can take to their organization and see results. Providing your clients with useful insights is an art, and you need to develop experience in this area to become truly effective.
This expectation and role is difficult, and you need to be a master in the first three before you can get to this stage. Even so, providing valuable insights to customers means a few things.
Most notably, the keyword to keep in mind is “perspective.” Your perspective on the client’s organization and situation means everything, and if you’re approaching their problems from the wrong perspective, all of the other elements are adversely affected.
As the CSO Insights guide points out:
“Perspective without any context of the buyer’s situation is disconnected. Perspective delivered with mediocre communications skills is superfluous dialogue. Perspective that doesn’t connect to the end-state of what the buyer wants to do is academic.”
When it comes to differentiating yourself in an industry with few suppliers, the perspective that you bring to your key accounts can be the difference you need. In summary, perspective is everything and could be the difference between a buyer staying with you for years or moving backward in the sales cycle and leaving you for another vendor. Become their trusted advisor by bringing a new, engaging perspective to their problems and your clients will thank you for it.
How Kapta Can Help
All of these expectations and needs from buyers are crucial to becoming a successful key account manager. With that in mind, wasting time moving numbers around in a spreadsheet isn’t, which is why you need a key account management platform tailor-made for your work.
Kapta is a robust platform with countless features designed to help you build better, more personable relationships with your key accounts. If you want to see how Kapta can help you keep up with client needs and expectations, request your free demo today.