B2B buying is in danger of becoming a numbers game dominated by procurement professionals, vendor selection checklists, and lowest-price mentality, according to Forrester. However, you don’t have to allow yourself to fall victim to this trend.
Procurement’s involvement doesn’t need to result in a race to revenue decline. But it does mean that you need to prepare to distinguish your solution and your company from the competition, so you aren’t viewed as just another vendor when the deal goes to procurement.
As the incumbent, you’re in a position to get the inside scoop and prove yourself before the deal ever reaches procurement. This requires consistent and strategic action. What does this look like and how do these actions make a difference once you’re talking with the buyer in procurement?
Start By Establishing a Key Account Management Process
Differentiating your solution from other similar products or services involves driving measurable results for your top customers. The best way to achieve this is by pairing them with account managers and creating a structured process to create value for these accounts efficiently.
An effective process, like our KAM Process™ acts as a roadmap for account managers to follow so they never miss a step and can focus on driving valuable customer outcomes.
This process includes three phases Know, Act, and Measure.
Know: Getting to know clients by gathering information and insights about the key account. This is accomplished by creating robust org charts and client profiles, conducting Voice of Customer interviews, and completing a SWOT Analysis.
Act: Creating detailed strategic action plans based on the information and insights gleaned during the Know stage of the process and designed to drive customer goal achievement.
Measure: Gauge progress and goal achievement based on KPIs specified by the customer. This is also where account managers ensure all tasks are completed on schedule for continuous progress.
These steps enable your account managers to understand and keep current with customer goals, priorities, challenges, and organizational changes. Then they can create an effective action plan to achieve the customer’s desired outcomes and measure the results. The cycle repeats so you can stay abreast of evolving conditions and customer requirements to adjust or update plans, and continuously gauge progress or goal achievement.
Develop a Customer-Obsessed Growth Engine
The Forrester report cited that businesses with a customer-obsessed growth engine realized an estimated 10% or higher growth in revenue, profits, and customer retention. That’s because they focus on the customer and are internally aligned and working collaboratively to create customer value.
So, it’s no coincidence that these businesses experience consistent growth, profits, and customer retention since the best predictor of customer retention is measurable customer results or value.
Engage With Procurement
If you’ve established a key account management program and process plus a customer-obsessed growth engine, you are well positioned to confidently engage with procurement. Then you’re armed with everything you need to close the deal.
Understand their goals
Being the incumbent means you understand the client’s goals, challenges, and priorities. Now it’s time to show procurement how well you know what they are trying to achieve, what challenges they want to overcome, and what threats they are facing in the marketplace. This shows that you have done your homework and are prepared to help them continue to reach their goals.
Share your expertise
Your VIP client wants more than a product or service. They choose to do business with a vendor capable of being a trusted advisor, so they are interested in your expertise and insights. Talk to them about strategies to help them not only survive but thrive. This is especially true when facing difficult market and economic conditions.
Provide a tailored solution
Research shows that buyers will pay a premium for personalized product and service recommendations. Being deeply knowledgeable of the customer’s current situation, goals, priorities, and challenges, you’re uniquely positioned to provide them with a tailored solution to drive their desired outcomes. Doing so helps protect your bottom line by avoiding an apples-to-apples commodity selection by the buyer.
A buyer’s loyalty to a vendor depends on how confident they are that they are receiving value from the vendor, according to Pros’ research. So, if you’ve been delivering measurable results to this client, you need to document these results and share them with the buyer. And it doesn’t hurt to also share additional proof to procurement in the form of testimonials and case studies.
This helps the buyer quantify the value of your solution and justify the renewal, cross-sell, or upsell.
Retain and Grow Your Accounts
Procurement’s involvement in renewals, cross-sells, and up-sells doesn’t have to lead to churn or a down-sell as long as you’re prepared. Establishing an account management program and process to ensure continuous growth and measurable outcomes is essential. Then you need to develop an organization-wide customer growth engine focused on achieving the customer’s goals.
Taking these steps sets you up to be the obvious choice by procurement. As a trusted advisor, you already know the customer, actively share your expertise and offer tailor-made solutions. This allows you to have proof that you are the best choice, so you retain and grow your accounts.
Are you ready to optimize your account management program? Register for KAMCon. Early bird pricing is available through December 31st.