4 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Team to be a Better Key Account Manager

As a Key Account Manager, you know how important it is to develop good rapport with your clients. Personal connections improve our client relationships since we tend to want to do business with those we trust. But are we neglecting our bonds with own teams?

The personal and professional connections we make with our colleagues improve our ability to perform at our peak. Office friendships improve our well-being, help us reduce work-related stress and keep us looking forward to each day. Collaborative relationships empower us with reinforced customer support, as we feel our colleagues “have our backs” when we need assistance or inspiration in caring for clients.

Here are four ways we can strengthen our relationships with our colleagues and support teams.

  1. Ask for advice

While KAM’s share similar attributes which allow us to excel in our fields, we’re still individuals. Each of us has our own personal style and approach when handling issues. Sometimes, a fresh perspective will get us through those “stuck” moments. Being comfortable asking colleagues to be our sounding boards has a number of benefits:

  • Enhances our ability to serve our key clients by providing well-rounded insights
  • Strengthen bonds with colleagues through ongoing communication
  • Encourage mutual respect, by acknowledging one another’s expertise
  • Keeps others in the company in the know about your clients

How do you feel when someone asks you for advice? Let’s be honest. It makes you feel good. People love to know they are valuable. You may even realize that you feel more open towards the advice-seeker. Psychiatrist Sue Varna, in an article for NBC, writes: “I frequently hear from my clients that they don’t feel appreciated at their job or at home on a daily basis. Asking for advice makes them feel “in the know” and it makes you appear humble. People love humble people.”

Varna acknowledges that it can be difficult to show vulnerability, especially to coworkers, but insists that the end result paves the way for mutual trust.

  1. Cut loose outside of work

You’re driven, and that’s usually the side you show when you’re in the office. How often do your colleagues and support teams see the other side of you? You know, the “you” who has a crappy golf swing, can sing “99 Luft Balloons” in German without looking at the words on the karaoke screen, or who wants a buddy with whom to brave a rock wall climbing class. Get out of the office with your colleagues and team once in awhile, on an individual or group basis, and help them get a more well-rounded view of you as a human being.

Don’t initiate activities in which you are an expert. Try to find a somewhat level playing field outside the realm of the office, or even better, put yourself at a disadvantage. As with asking for advice, showing vulnerability improves relationship bonds, but in this case, you’re engaging in a fun environment.

  1. Stay informed of your colleagues’ projects

You should already have a colleague or two with whom you play “backup” when one of you needs assistance with a client. Check in with these fellow KAM’s once in awhile to ask if they need a hand, or if they’d like to brief you on current developments. Be an empathetic and discreet sounding board to colleagues who need to vent. Keep their client industries in your news feed, and forward articles you feel may help your colleagues.

By reminding your colleagues that you’re in tune with their projects, you’re reinforcing their trust in you to be there for them when they need you. In turn, they are more likely to keep your clients in mind as they go about their business, and each of you will feel better about asking for help—professional or otherwise—when the need arises.

Is relationship building difficult for you? Use relationship mapping techniques to help you determine how your actions can benefit your colleagues’ goals, and to help keep you from neglecting relationships you know are important to your own.

  1. Show gratitude

Did a colleague field your client calls while you were out of the office? Did one of your staff dig up data that had a huge impact in improving your key account service strategy? Thank these people individually, but find a way to sing their praises in front of their superiors and other office staff, such as at a meeting or in a brief.

Giving credit where credit is due establishes you as trustworthy and confident. By showing your appreciation of your coworkers, and encouraging others to do the same, you’ll become that person for whom others will walk through fire. Be genuine and specific in your praise, and back it up with a token of appreciation. Anything from a thank-you card to tickets to a hockey game will go a long way to showing you’re serious.

The takeaway

Relationship building is not a one-and-done activity; it requires ongoing attention. Making genuine, empathetic connections within your team is as important as nurturing relationships with your key clients. As a successful KAM, you are a polished professional, but you’re also a human being. Focus on relationships beyond just your clients, and you might discover over time that this will improve your overall KAM skills.



Curious to see how you can take your Key Account Management skills to the next level? Download this helpful ebook on how to create powerful account plans for your key customers or sign up for a demo of Kapta.

CEO at Kapta
Alex Raymond is the CEO of Kapta.