Poor hiring decisions can be quite expensive. The costs involved include recruiting, onboarding, and lost revenue. Depending on the source, a bad hire can cost at least 30% of the individual’s first-year potential earnings or more when you consider lost revenue and the possible impact on team morale.
The best Account Management talent isn’t always the obvious choice. While most sales leaders look for reps who are “closers,” “good communicators,” and “hard workers,” I would argue they are misguided. While those are qualities of a very good rep, they don’t quite focus on what it takes to excel at this role. You can have the best strategy in place, but if you don’t have the talent to execute, results can be limited. Consider these key qualities and questions I recommend asking when filling your next sales role. They’ll help you identify the best candidate to add to your Key Account Manager (KAM) team.
A Life-Long Learner
Your new hire will have a lot to learn during your company’s onboarding process. Then they need to get to know their new and existing clients along with marketplace trends and changes within client accounts and their industries. This is why you need someone who is continuously learning.
These people don’t ask about the weather when meeting with customers because they always have something interesting to talk about. They read and consume content on their own, indicating they are self-starters, and take ownership of their development. Questions you can ask in an interview to identify this characteristic include:
- What podcasts, webinars, LinkedIn courses, or TED talks have you watched or listened to that you have found interesting this year?
- What is the most impactful book or audiobook you read this year?
- Tell me about a skill you wanted to improve on last year and how you went about getting better. Then, ask yourself if this rep sought out their manager and set aside time for mock calls and practice, did they read a book, did they record themselves and practice their presentation?
A Team Player
Some of the most successful sales reps set the standard and teach others on their team how to do something better. Key account management is a team activity. It cannot be done effectively as a solo effort. That’s why it’s critical that you look for reps who are team players when filling a KAM role.
These reps think critically, organized, and have their sh*t together. These reps are able to think critically when working with customers as well, enabling them to more effectively help solve client problems. And this serves to improve customer experience, satisfaction, and retention. Include this series of questioning in your interview to identify this characteristic in your potential employee:
- Tell me about a time you found a better way to do something, optimized a system, or talk to track and shared it among the organizations? How did you figure out a better way to do it? How did you share it with your organization?
A Relationship Builder
Reps who know how to build relationships practice purposeful listening and show empathy for their clients. This human connection reinforces the bonds of good business. It enables them to find ways to assist clients with their challenges and goals as they relate to your product or service while anticipating issues that may arise.
If a KAM can demonstrate that they have built relationships inside their organization and with customers previously, that tells me that they are likely customer focused, and empathic. These are critical qualities you want in your strategic customer account manager. To identify this in a prospective rep, ask them the following question:
- Talk to me about a time where you had to build a relationship with a new business team or contact in an organization.
KAMs aren’t always going to have all the skills you might want, but if they possess some of these qualities you can expect them to excel and improve very quickly.
Looking for ways to improve on your Key Account Management program? Schedule a demo to see how Kapta can help improve processes and streamline your program.