Key Account Management = Strategic Customer Success

What account management style does your organization use? If you’re like most of the companies filling the B2B space, chances are you’re all about Customer Success. Everyone loves Customer Success account management, and it can do wonders for your organization and your customers.

By aligning your definition of success with your client’s, then you’re both striving for the same goal. The thing is, most people will turn their back on Key Account Management platforms and principles because they think it is an entirely different management style altogether…

It’s not! In fact, KAM is Customer Success for the accounts that matter the most to your organization. That’s it! You can still follow the same principles found in Customer Success; you just emphasize the clients that make up the 80% of your outcomes.

How can you merge the two management styles to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your key accounts? We have a few ideas that should clear some things up for you.

Slight Differences

As you probably know, both Key Account Management and Customer Success share similarities but also are different in a couple of areas. Before getting to the ways to use both to your ultimate advantage, let’s discuss a couple of the differences worth keeping in mind as you move forward.

The most fundamental difference between Customer Success and Key Account Management lies in the client focus. In traditional Customer Success models, you want to see every client succeed. This isn’t to say that in Key Account Management you don’t want your customers to have success with your products and services; you just want to see a select few that bring more revenue to succeed the most.

When your key accounts can succeed and reach their goals, that means that your organization will bring in even more revenue. A focus on these customers could mean millions of dollars in revenue. With your attention on the success of 100% of your clients, you might not be able to provide key accounts with the care they need.

A secondary difference between Customer Success and Key Account Management is the customer lifecycle. In Key Account Management, you may be present for the entire lifecycle of the customer, or you might drop off at some point. If you choose only a select few clients to become strategic partners that means a majority of them will eventually become less important.

Traditional Customer Success takes a long-term approach and sees every client as a potential success story. This means that new clients receive the same amount of attention as clients that have been around forever and shown little promise.

Beyond these two points, implementing a hybrid approach to your account management program can pay off for your organization and your key accounts.

Here are a few tips to help you along the way:

Focus on Customer Outcomes

One of these first tips should seem relatively obvious, but it’s important to discuss nonetheless. The core principle of Customer Success is to help your clients reach their desired outcome. The same is true for Key Account Management as you work with an exclusive group of clients to achieve their ultimate business goals.

For this reason, you should keep your client’s (and your) goals in mind with everything that you do. If you aren’t using them already, you should ensure that you have a detailed account plan for each client. This will help keep you on track throughout the year as you continuously exceed your customers’ wildest expectations.

Actions Drive Success

Following up on the last point, while it is essential to have an end goal in mind, you need to know how you’re going to get there. Spoiler Alert: You won’t achieve your client’s goals and bring them success by sitting around waiting for the phone to ring.

You must take a proactive approach for each of your key accounts. After all, they come to you as their trusted advisor, and as a partner in their success, they depend on you to show them the way towards their ultimate success.

So, what actions are you going to take to help drive your mutual success? Consult with your account plans and make sure that you know the right plays to make.

Communication is Key

Another core principle of combining Customer Success with your Key Account Management program is providing your clients with value. Sure, you might know that you are valuable to their success, but your clients might not realize this yet before they see real results. How do you overcome this challenge? We’ve found that the all-mighty skill of communication works perfectly here.

Communicating value to clients isn’t hard, and if you are following proactive approached to your Key Account Management program, it should happen automatically. Your primary goal here is to show your clients that they need you to achieve real results. You’re not just another vendor – you’re their partner in their success and their trusted advisor. You call them on a regular basis to let them know what you’re doing to help them. You schedule regular meetings (forget about normal QBRs), and you strive to make sure that your products actually work for them and solve problems – not just push more quick sales onto them.

Customer Success is for Everyone

Finally, let’s talk about a common misconception about Customer Success. Since the account management model works well in subscription-based companies, many wrongly assume that it’s only for small accounts with a low-touch support model.

This is false! In reality, Customer Success works phenomenally for large key accounts as well in most B2B companies. If you’re the success of your customers is your ultimate goal, then it doesn’t matter how often you contact them or how strong the relationship is. So, don’t let this myth stop you from developing a long-term, successful partnership with your key accounts.

How Kapta Can Help

Kapta is a robust Key Account Management platform with tools that will make your Customer Success goals easier to accomplish. Most notably, you’ll find the account plans to save you time and keep you on track throughout the customer lifecycle. Give Kapta a try today by scheduling your free demo.

CEO at Kapta
Alex Raymond is the CEO of Kapta.