I have sat in and reviewed hundreds of account plans from key account managers. Even when there is a lot of money on the line, I have found that many account managers know very little about their biggest accounts. If that doesn’t make you gulp, what’s even scarier is that account managers are too afraid to tell their executive team they are missing information, so instead they embellish the truth or worse – guess.
Our key account management process is based on the Know, Act, Measure strategy. When entire customer success teams act on faulty information, it’s no wonder account managers can get blind-sighted by churn or experience disengagement.
So how do you really know if your account managers have done their due diligence in their accounts? How do you know if they really understand what their customers want and need?
If your key account managers can answer these four questions, they have likely done their jobs well.
1. What are the customer’s goals?
Most executive teams ask their account managers to write out goals for their accounts, (i.e., I want to upsell this team by 10% this year). While understanding your own goals for the account is commendable, if your account management team is stopping here, I would not be surprised if they are not delivering the results they could.
Account manager’s goals should be created after they can clearly articulate their customer goals for the quarter and year. Account management is all about driving win/win scenarios. Therefore, account goals should be centered around creating win/win opportunities with the customer’s best interest at heart. That is how you derive value for the account and your customer.
Don’t Forget: Remind your account managers, customer goals can run the gamut from personal goals, I want to be promoted this year, to professional and business goals.
2. When was the last time you validated that your customer’s goals are still the same?
How are your account managers communicating value back to customers if they don’t have relevant key performance indicators and goals? If they aren’t up to date on the customer’s expectations, then they are also certainly not communicating value as effectively as they could. This opens up risk for churn and for competitors to come in and seize an account.
Customer goals should be validated frequently. A common mistake I see account managers make is recycling the same goals from last year or worse- from when the account first signed on as a customer. I see a lot of copy and paste of the same recycled outdated goals in Salesforce.
I recommend that customer goals be validated at least once a quarter. Without this information, you appear out of touch and unhelpful. That’s why tools like Kapta’s account management software can help account managers stay up-to-date on their account plans, customer goals, and customer engagement so that they can better align themselves within the account and expand the value they can provide.
3. Have you built your SWOT analysis around your customer goals?
If your Account Managers are building SWOT analysis around customer goals, they are taking a customer-centric and value-centric approach. SWOT tools help open our eyes to potential blind spots and unanswered questions we have within an account. This usually tells me that customers are engaged with the account, and most importantly, the account plans can be executed collaboratively with the customer because we have good information.
4. Have you shared your account plan with your customer?
Sharing account plans with customers for validation makes some executives gulp! But, if account plans are built with a value-oriented and customer-centric lens then it’s all that more important to validate at least pieces with them to make sure you are properly aligned. If an account manager can tell me definitively that they feel comfortable sharing their plan with the customer, then I feel more confident that the information we have about the account is up to date and accurate.
Too often, account plans are built on bad information. Account managers are in a rush to deliver their account plans to their executive team and fail to have those critical customer-centric customers. Understanding your customer goals is the foundation of a successful partnership.
Interested in learning more about our Know, Act, Measure philosophy? Read more about our account management software here.