How to Scale Your Key Account Management Program Without Adding Headcount

The vast majority of B2B companies realize the importance of the Customer Success function to ensure customers receive value from your product by helping them achieve their goals for using your offering. This boosts retention, lifetime customer value, and revenue.

CS and account management (AM) teams are being forced to do more with less, thanks to layoffs, economic uncertainties, and budget cuts.  With so much at stake, you can’t put all the responsibility on these teams to retain and grow the business on their own.

Expanding your key account management (KAM) function doesn’t necessarily involve hiring additional team members. Instead, start by optimizing your existing CS operations. Then consider other ways to free up your key account managers’ time for more strategic efforts.

Let’s look at ways to scale your KAM program without adding headcount so your account managers can do more with less.

Optimize Existing Operations

Before you scale your account management program it’s important to optimize your current operations. To accomplish this there are a few things you can do.

Establish a Repeatable KAM Process

Creating a cyclical account management process like our KAM Process™ simplifies the sometimes overwhelming number of tasks effective key account managers need to do.

This step-by-step repeatable process provides your account managers with a roadmap so they never need to think about what to do next or miss a step.

This proven methodology transforms customer relationships. It ensures your account managers know more about their customers, plan effectively, act more strategically, and deliver measurable progress and value to customers.

Adopt KAM-Specific Software

Boost KAM efficiency by providing them with KAM-specific software. CRM is simply not sufficient for account managers because it doesn’t have the same depth and personalization that KAMs need to effectively do their jobs.

Not only is KAM software tailored for account management professionals, but it also includes automation that streamlines routine administrative tasks. These automations give KAMs the ability to spend more time on strategic planning and activities instead of other minutiae.

Provide Account Management-specific Training

There is no better time to give your KAMs training to increase the knowledge and skills needed to effectively do their jobs. Successful account management requires the mastery of many diverse processes and skills. Your KAMs need to know how to wield KAM-specific tools like SWOT analysis, voice of customer (VOC) interviews, account planning, and Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs).

In addition to the fundamentals, account managers need to learn advanced soft skills that help them recognize and prevent customer churn, build strong customer relationships, and understand buyer psychology and how customers think.

So, don’t delay providing KAM training to your account management team. It sets them up for success and boosts their effectiveness.

Leverage Organization-Wide Teamwork

Key account management isn’t effective when done in isolation. So, remember KAM is a team sport that requires the participation of everyone in your organization. This provides the customer with a consistent experience across all interactions with your company. Plus, it enables the KAM to focus their efforts on more strategic activities and engagements with customers.

Taking these steps before further expanding your account management program ensures you’re getting the most from your existing CS team.

Ways to Scale Your Optimized KAM Program

Now that your existing account management team is operating at peak efficiency, it’s time to scale your program. Ensure your customers are getting what they need and want while relieving KAMs of routine tactical tasks.

It’s a known fact that customers need to see value in using your product or service or they are likely to churn. This value is a combination of education, information, guidance, and insights, plus problem resolution and goal attainment. In fact, 85% of B2B buyers want brands to solve their problems, 64% want a reliable source of information, and 69% are seeking a trusted partner.

So, seize the opportunity by giving customers what they want.

The following approaches fulfill customer wishes while helping you scale your optimized KAM program by taking tactical account management tasks from your team. This gives KAMs more time to strategically engage with customers.

New User Training and Certification: Training new users to use your product and certifying them serves two purposes. It boosts product adoption. Plus, users can share their certifications on social media, which is a form of advocacy. So, this is a win-win.

A Structured Onboarding Program: Customer success managers (CSMs) do onboarding calls week after week. Having your learning and development (L&D) team conduct onboarding workshops on a routine basis makes it easier for customers while freeing up CSM time for more strategic efforts. Plus, customers have the flexibility to attend the sessions that best suit their schedule. This not only saves time, it saves your company money too.

New Feature Training: Anytime you add a new feature to your product or service, offer your customers training. Again, having L&D conduct these classes on a regular schedule increases the odds of adoption by making clients aware of the new feature and how to use it. This increases value without impacting KAM productivity.

A Monthly Customer Newsletter: Ongoing communication with customers keeps them informed of upcoming events, new resources or features, training schedules, and other important information. This is another thing taken off your KAMs plate.

Knowledge Bases and Resource Center: Customers love self-service when they need information. Offering them an array of resources to help answer their questions 24-7 gives them the information they need whenever they need it without requesting assistance.

User Groups: Building a community of users enables customers to exchange use case information, share insights, and assist one another. Plus, customers like to feel like they are part of something special.

Peer-to-Peer Discussion Forums Segmented by Industry: Help customers tap into a valuable resource of insights from peers within their industry. These peers share similar challenges and experiences, giving them a group where they learn from others like themselves.

Executive Advisory Boards: Also known as a Customer Advisory Board (CAB), these quarterly meetings are powerful. Customer executives find these highly beneficial by enabling them to partner with you, learn what’s coming, and enjoy peer-to-peer engagement while having fun. Plus, CABs have been known to convert even the most at-risk key account to a loyal partner that refers top prospects to your business. 

Expert Webinars: These online events are another way to provide additional education, insights, and use case information to customers on a one-to-many level without impacting your KAMs schedules.

Live Training Events Including Industry and Product Experts: This is a great way to further build a community where customers and others with shared interests can gather together to learn and network. One example is KAMCon, our premier conference for Account Management leaders and innovators.

Start Doing More with Less

Organizations are feeling the pinch. It’s time to make the most of your KAM resources without adding headcount. Start by optimizing your KAM operations by establishing a repeatable KAM process, providing your team with KAM software, giving them KAM training, and leveraging organization-wide teamwork.

Then evaluate your customer journey to identify which approaches to scaling your KAM program will best improve customer experience and free up your account managers’ time. These are the elements you need to implement first. Then add on from there as appropriate.

Looking for ways to further optimize your KAM program?

Register for the April KAMCon event. There’s still time!

Senior Engagement Manager at Kapta
Jennifer is a Senior Engagement Manager at Kapta