Assembling a Stellar Account Management Team

Are you consistently helping your top customers achieve measurable results with your product or service?

Customer results are predictive of customer long-term retention.

Therefore, failing to support these clients’ needs puts up to 70% of your business at risk.

When customers cease to receive these results, they are more likely to churn.

Hence, the best way to protect the lion’s share of your existing revenue and growth potential is with a team designed to help customers drive these results.

Whatever you choose to call these individuals, customer engagement reps, key account managers, or customer success managers, a strong team is essential to the sustainability of your business. These are the unsung heroes who protect and grow business in your VIP accounts.

However, you can’t just assemble a group of warm bodies or promote sales reps to do the job. Account management is different from customer service, sales, or most other roles. It requires a unique blend of skills and characteristics.

So, how do you assemble a stellar key account management (KAM) team? We’re here to provide you with guidance to help you succeed from the very beginning or to help you improve your existing team so they can rise to the occasion.

Let’s get started!

Hiring

Selecting people best suited to the complex key account management (KAM) role is critical to the success of your team and ultimately your business. These are the individuals responsible for retaining and growing your largest customers by helping them achieve measurable outcomes.

How will you recognize the best account management candidates during the hiring process?

Ideally, applicants will possess the following attributes:

Inquisitive: The best KAMs are curious about their customers. They need to gather numerous insights about each client and contact. This enables them to develop a deep understanding of things like the structure and inner workings of client organizations, their needs, goals, priorities, and industry. Their inquisitive nature means they’re always seeking more information for a clearer picture and changes as they occur. This enables them to recognize problems as they arise and address them early before they develop.

Customer-centric Mindset: Prioritizing the customer by understanding and empathizing with them, then consistently delivering value to customers while achieving personal goals, for a win-win.

Trusted Advisor: The ability to provide valuable insights and guidance to clients to help them achieve their desired outcomes. These account managers can transform the client relationship from just another vendor to that of a valued partner.

Proactive Go-getter: A strategic planner, goal setter, and action taker with the ability to identify problems and take action to help resolve them. The candidate also needs the ability to create plans and take steps to help customers achieve their desired measurable outcomes.

Accountable: Takes responsibility for their actions, owns up to and learns from mistakes, and has a realistic view of what is possible. Then keep their commitments and follow through as promised. They don’t make excuses for their failures and don’t accept excuses from others when they fail to keep their commitments. Therefore, they also hold clients accountable for their promises and commitments.

Coachable: Successful account managers understand that they don’t know everything and are always striving to improve. Hence, they gracefully accept feedback and guidance, and then apply it for continuous improvement.

Easily Give and Receive Customer Feedback: Effective key account managers are comfortable receiving feedback from customers to continuously meet and improve the customer’s experience. Likewise, they need to easily provide customers with feedback on their participation in the account plan. After all, driving meaningful outcomes is a two-way street that requires collaborative participation by your organization and the customer.

Continuously Striving for Improvement: Not only are the best KAMs coachable, but they are also always learning something new and expanding their skills. They read books and blogs, listen to podcasts, watch webinars, engage in peer-to-peer learning, get additional training, and participate in professional communities.

Training

It’s not enough to hire top-notch talent. Account managers require comprehensive specialized training to prepare them for their complex role. They need an effective knowledge of your products or services, and industry trends, as well as communication, negotiation, and conflict resolution.

Account managers also benefit from role-specific curricula like account planning, quarterly business review (QBR) preparation, customer organizational dynamics, and brain science to better understand how customers think. Training KAMs to recognize at-risk accounts and selling skills for account managers are also crucial topics.

Then it’s important to offer team members additional training and learning resources to help them stay current with market and industry trends and to continuously sharpen their account management skills.

Support to Boost Effectiveness and Efficiency

Optimize your KAM team’s performance. Support their efforts by taking the following steps.

Establish a Repeatable Process

Institute a cyclical process, like Our KAM Process™, that serves as a roadmap that guides account managers through essential steps and processes with each client. This ensures they never miss a step or neglect to take an essential action and always know what they need to do next for every account. This saves time and boosts efficiency while allowing reps to focus on what’s most important, namely driving measurable customer outcomes.

Adopt KAM-Specific Software

Purpose-built software, like Kapta, is a KAM’s best friend. Acting as a toolkit that contains all the essentials for account management success, it contains templates, playbooks, tools, and best practices to streamline day-to-day tasks. Plus, it functions as a single source of customer information and insights while serving as an internal and external communication hub.

Promote Interdepartmental Teamwork

KAM is a team sport that requires collaboration with customers and internal departments that engage clients throughout their journey. Account managers more efficiently and effectively drive consistent customer outcomes when the team pulls together to achieve them. Proactive risk detection is also easier when KAMs leverage the team approach, further increasing the odds of addressing issues as they arise to retain at-risk clients.

Start Delivering Consistent Results

It’s time to assemble your stellar KAM team or upgrade your existing team so you can more effectively protect and grow your top clients.

Seek candidates that meet all or most of the essential account manager attributes. Then provide role-specific training to prepare them for success and encourage them to continually grow their skills by offering additional training, resources, and coaching.

Set your KAM team up for success by establishing a recurring account management process and purpose-built software to streamline essential activities. Then promote interdepartmental teamwork.

Give your team the role-specific training they need. Register them for KAMGenius.

Schedule time with a team member to see how the Kapta platform supports KAMs.

Senior Engagement Manager at Kapta
Jennifer is a Senior Engagement Manager at Kapta