Key account management is a journey and along the way, key account managers (KAMs) are expected to develop and grow throughout their careers continually. KAMs need to always strive to ascend through the levels of the KAM Maturity Model to the fifth and most proficient stage.
There’s a lot involved in effective key account management and many skills KAMs must develop to succeed in hitting this goal including things like:
- Adopting a dynamic process
- Partnering with the customer and team members to create win-win outcomes
- Consistently communicating with internal team members
- Practicing client communication consisting of a blend of strategic and tactical planned meetings
- Creating living, breathing, adaptive account plans
- Conducting ongoing reviews for learning and collaboration
Achieving this level of KAM success involves going beyond the fundamentals of key account management and mastering 9 advanced KAM concepts. Excelling in these high-level practices facilitates proper time and resource management for optimum results for you and your accounts.
1. Adjusting your perspective – reframe how you approach your role as an account manager to become an excellent KAM. This includes reframing some of what you may have been taught previously like:
- Being a champion for your customer instead of for your company
- Being the quarterback of your team instead of being a lone wolf
- Asking great questions instead of being a master presenter
Building agile account plans around your customer goals instead of creating massive, complex account plans you never revisit
2. Segmenting your customer portfolio – to determine where to invest your time. Which accounts need more of your time and attention versus the ones that are fine being left on their own.
Consider factors such as:
- Potential for growth and expansion
- Alignment and shared vision for your products or services in terms of customer problem-solving
- Customers’ commitment level to your program or service
Getting this wrong can mean misallocating resources plus wasting a lot of time and energy.
3. Advanced Voice of Customer Strategies – knowing when to ask voice of customer (VOC) questions throughout the customer lifecycle journey. Then creating a VOC framework to guide how, when, and what you do with the customer’s responses to increase the success of your program.
This four-step framework includes:
- Capture – document the VOC data so it’s easy to access
- Analyze – determine exactly what the customer is telling you
- Share – communicate VOC findings with your team, especially as you shift to becoming increasingly customer-centric
- Action – follow through and respond to what your customer tells you by going back to them with a solution or action plan.
4. Effectively manage client relationships – A few keys to doing this include:
- Having a spirit of service and always adding value when interacting with our clients.
- Converting detractors by identifying them, addressing unmet needs to win them over, and owning problems and correcting them.
- Getting out of the weeds to become a trusted advisor to your clients.
5. Know how to prevent customer churn – by understanding that regardless of the cause, understanding the customer’s needs, goals, and objective is the best strategy for retention. Take the following five steps to prevent churn:
- Follow a process like our KAM process
- Have the right conversations by talking to your customers and conducting VOC interviews
- Follow the customer’s goals and allow them to guide your account planning and strategies
- Share internally and validate externally by communicating your insights with your internal team, then reviewing your understanding and plans with the customer
- Inspect what you expect with leading indicators and KPIs to gauge progress
6. Employ timeboxing when planning your days – you’ll be more productive as a result.
When timeboxing your days remember to include time for:
- Building internal and external relationships
- Unpredictable occurrences
- Taking a break to refresh and recharge
- Strategic projects and tasks
- Professional development
- And remember that multitasking doesn’t work.
7. Upselling as an account manager – requires that you remain focused on customer-centricity while not being too salesy in your approach to upselling, preventing damage to client relationships. Identify upsell opportunities that align with customer needs, goals, and objectives resulting in a win-win.
8. Measure your success with leading indicators – these are the things you can control like completing VOC interviews, tracking customer goals, and building agile account plans.
9. Know how to set yourself up for success – these four things will propel you forward as a KAM:
- Adopt a win-win mentality to help your customer succeed
- Practice full transparency by having honest conversations both internally and externally. It’s okay to be open and honest and you’ll build trust while making progress faster.
- Invest in customer face time to develop personal relationships one-on-one and in small groups.
- Getting to know customers enables you to build and develop deeper, longer-lasting relationships.
- Spend time engaging your customers to keep your finger on the pulse of how things are going and maintain effective communication.
Master the critical skills needed for optimum success as a key account manager. Register for KAMGenius, the only online video course taught by KAM experts in easy-to-consume bite-sized videos full of actionable tips.