The key account management role is misunderstood. Nobody seems to know what we do every day. It’s common for people within an organization to think we are glorified support, some flavor of a sales team, or a marketing team. But nothing could be further from the truth! And this misconception is painfully telling of the communication in the organization about how we're supporting and understanding our customers.
If the company doesn't understand what account managers are doing, that's a huge red flag that they don't understand our commitment to our clients. It's a crucial role within an organization to drive those retention numbers by building long-term customer partnerships, making it an essential role now more than ever. So, for an organization to not understand what the team does, that's a huge problem.
At Kapta, we have worked with thousands of KAMs around the world and we’re here to clear up the confusion by highlighting the many behind-the-scenes activities key account managers (KAMs) do that lead to more visible results. The more obvious by-products of KAM efforts include mitigated churn, renewals, measurable customer outcomes, high customer satisfaction, and up or cross-sells.
Let’s look at the activities that KAMs do in a typical day that aren’t apparent to most people.
Customer Onboarding and Offboarding
Customer onboarding is essential for starting the relationship on the right foot to accelerate value creation early on. Then if the client is departing, for whatever reason, KAMs are tasked with effective offboarding to end the relationship on a positive note. This maintains former clients as advocates and referral sources while boosting the chances of their return in the future.
Customer Stakeholder Management
KAMs need to develop a keen understanding of the customer’s org chart and develop multithreaded relationships across the account. This gives the KAM a deeper understanding of how the customer’s business operates and gives them access to stakeholders at multiple levels within their organization.
Their voice of customer (VOC) interviews with these contacts then reflect a more accurate and robust picture of the customer’s needs, goals, challenges, and priorities. Better quality VOC information facilitates the creation of a better account plan that drives more valuable customer outcomes.
The most effective account managers also prepare a SWOT analysis, so the internal team is well-informed prior to preparing strategic account plans.
Success Planning and Implementation
Account management is a team sport with the KAM acting as the quarterback of the team. They build relationships with internal stakeholders and ensure the entire team is informed and aligned around customer goals and priorities. Then KAMs conduct internal account reviews where the entire team reviews all account information and communications, prepares or updates account plans, and reviews progress toward customer and internal goals.
This internal collaboration and communication continue between meetings. In this case, KAMs act as project managers, keeping account plan initiatives on track by ensuring all milestones are hit to drive meaningful customer outcomes.
KAMs also take account plans to the customer to work with them collaboratively and ensure the customer participates by playing their part in goal achievement.
Monitoring, Measuring, and Reporting
KAMs are responsible for not only tracking account plan progress to ensure milestones are met and actions don’t fall through the cracks but also monitoring customer success metrics. This allows them to recognize when to adjust plans and when goals are achieved to report progress and success to the team and the customer.
Account managers engage with customers routinely to deepen the relationship, initiate VOC conversations, answer questions, and resolve issues as they arise. Issue resolution is reactive engagement that cannot be predicted and often changes the course of the KAM’s day. However, these VIP customers are worth the additional effort and are essential to the long-term well-being of their organization.
That’s why account managers constantly watch, collect, and analyze customer insights in addition to staying engaged with their customers. This makes it possible to proactively recognize risk when it appears in an account, giving them sufficient time to address it and retain the customer in the long term. But on the occasion when risk isn’t detected early, KAMs must go into crisis management mode in hopes of creating a plan to overcome the problem and prevent the customer from churning.
Establish Long-Term Partnerships
Speaking of retaining customers, KAMs negotiate with customers ahead of contract renewals with the goal of a continued partnership. This becomes easier as account managers become trusted advisors to their customers. This builds long-term relationships with customers who are advocates and referral sources.
KAM’s Do More Than You Know
There are a multitude of KAM activities that occur behind the scenes. These professionals are essential to the long-term success of your business. They are the unsung heroes that develop lasting partnerships with your VIP customers for revenue stability and growth.
See how Kapta simplifies KAM processes and supports them. Schedule a demo today.