11 Key Account Management Trends for 2018in Key Account Management /
In an industry that requires leadership and complete focus of your key accounts, it’s important to be on top of things so that you can be the leader your organization needs and your clients want. Here are the top 11 Key Account Management Trends for 2018 that are disrupting the industry.
Be Proactive (not reactive)
All management positions will require a reaction of some sort to unexpected internal and external challenges, that’s normal. But as a Key Account Manager, you can be one of two things: reactive or proactive to everyday situations.
When you’re reactive, you’re simply taking the hits as they come and hoping for the best. When you’re proactive, you’re properly prepared to solve any problem that comes your way!
It shouldn’t be a surprise that proactive leadership is the best choice for Key Account Management. Proactive leadership is effective leadership. To be a truly strategic and effective key account manager, you must be proactive, not reactive.
Being reactive means playing catch up. Being proactive means leading the way and setting the standard.
The only time you should be reacting is when something out of your control occurs. But, you shouldn’t be handling your daily situations this way. If you are, you’re not being as efficient or productive as you should be.
Your best clients aren’t looking for an average partner. They’re looking for somebody extraordinary who can lead the way and propel them to success!
Continuous Relationship Management (your customer is always-on, so why isn’t your relationship?
To best service your most valuable clients, you must engage in continuous relationship management. This is the only way to develop deep, enduring relationships with the customers that matter most.
When you keep up with this trend, you create a greater level of transparency with your customers, trust is formed and they will know that you care. Continuous Relationship Management doesn’t mean bothering your customers on a daily basis with useless information, it means working consistently to help them achieve success.
Focus on Outcomes
Developing an outcomes focus is the best approach to strategic thinking, planning, performance management and daily leadership for your customers and organization. All too often managers get caught up in things like politics and the whirlwind of the daily feelings that you’re overwhelmed with all the little things. When you have a clear focus on desired outcomes in place, you become much more effective as a leader and Key Account Manager.
Your job as a key account manager is to help your customer reach their desired goals as effectively as possible. This is a commitment you made with your client and a promise that you need to keep if you want to retain your best customers and build your business. If you’re spending too much time focused on anything else, you’re not working efficiently.
By focusing on customer outcomes, you are keeping your eye on the prize and working hard to successfully deliver on your commitments. Your clients will notice and your performance as a key account manager will increase.
Ask the right questions
When dealing with your most valued customers, you should know what they want.
Asking the right questions is an important step in any customer success plan. It helps you to locate your customers’ pain points and better understand what is needed to help them achieve their desired outcome.
Always ask the right questions so that you can think more strategically and expand your horizons. Use thoughtful questions to learn more about your key clients, their wants, needs and goals. Don’t just ask any question, ask the questions that will put you in a position to deliver effectively.
Educate your internal team
A team is only as strong as its weakest link. Not only is this true for sports teams, it’s also true for Key Account Management teams. As a Key Account Manager, it’s your job to educate all internal stakeholders so they understand the customers, their unique needs and specific goals.
When you accomplish this, the whole team will be on the same page and can work together effectively to deliver as promised. Without it, your teams work will be inefficient and less effective than it needs to be. This is a problem.
Educating your team doesn’t need to be difficult, it can be as simple as holding regular meetings and conveying your clients wants, needs and goals to your team as a whole. In a meeting, you can also answer any questions that your team may have. This is what it means to be a leader.
Stay Focused on the big rocks
Don’t let yourself get too consumed with the little things, stay strategic and keep focused on the things that matter most: the big picture. Part of your job as a Key Account Manager is to keep priorities in check and outcomes in line. When you pay too much attention to small details, you end up wasting time and energy on things that aren’t worth it. By staying focused on the big rocks, you’re effectively staying focused on outcomes and delivering for your best clients.
Be transparent with your customers
To build trust with your clients and deepen their loyalty, you need to be completely, 100% transparent.
Transparency is key when dealing with your most valued customers, or any customer for that matter. Your clients want to do business with somebody they can trust, somebody who will be honest and upfront with them without “sugar coating” or leaving out any important details.
By being transparent, it puts you and your client on the same page and gives them more realistic expectations. It also shows that you have the guts to tell them something they don’t want to hear, which makes you more valuable.
Being transparent may mean owning up to a mistake or disclosing information that could upset your client and hurt your relationship. Nobody enjoys doing this, but it is a far more powerful action to take instead of trying to make excuses or cover up important details.
Don’t be scared, just do it. It may not seem like it at first, but transparency is a key trend that will improve your performance and reputation as a key account manager.
Be a Trusted Advisor
Nobody wants to work with somebody they can’t trust and it can be difficult for customers to fully trust their Key Account Managers, especially if it’s a new relationship.
Your #1 goal as a Key Account Manager should be to gain the complete trust of every client you work with. Not only will this deepen relationships, it will create an undying loyalty. Once you become a trusted advisor of your client, you become an indispensable asset. This is key to getting authentic referrals and building up your business.
Building trust takes time and doesn’t happen overnight. By communicating with your customers regularly, understanding their goals and being completely transparent, you’ll become a trusted advisor in no time.
Ditch the NPS Survey
Surveys are boring and useless for your customers, that’s a fact. Get rid of them and your clients will thank you, because everybody’s time is valuable.
Who is the NPS survey really helping? Definitely not any of your clients. The truth is, customers don’t care about your silly survey and if anything, they likely find it annoying and useless. Customers care about their goals and want their Key Account Manager to care as much as they do.
Focus more on how you’re going to help them reach their desired success and less on how you can solve issues from the past. Get rid of surveys and get in the moment.
Re-think your QBRs
Quarterly business reviews are great, but why wait 90 days before you communicate with your customers? It doesn’t make sense in this evolving industry.
Keep in regular communication with your clients and update them with the info they want right when you get it. Not only will it make working together easier, but it will also increase your customers trust in you.
QBRs are a thing of the past. Don’t wait 90 days to talk to your clients and update them on any new issues or progressions.
Do you really want to improve your performance as a key account manager? Talk to your clients as often as you can and provide them with regular updates .
Use the right tools
When it comes to working with valuable clients, it’s important that you use the most updated, useful and effective tools. CRM software is old, generic and ineffective when dealing with close customer relationships. You need a software that’s made specifically for your needs and your customers goals.
The best account managers arm themselves with the latest, most effective software. It’s no secret that KAM software is better than CRM. Use Key Account Management software instead of CRM and put yourself in a positioning to add value for your clients.
It’s not that a CRM software is useless, it’s just that KAM software is much more useful when dealing with customer relationships and delivering on outcomes. You wouldn’t use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail and you shouldn’t use a CRM system to build deeper relationships with your valued customers.
Follow these trends to become a top performing key account manager. In this evolving industry, staying on top of current trends is a must. Use these trends as guidelines for not only your success, but the success of your key clients.
Alex Raymond is the CEO of Kapta.