When it comes to Key Account Management, there’s a point where handling your organization’s top-priority customers can become overwhelming. This isn’t all that surprising. As a KAM, you handle all aspects of these enduring relationships between clients and your organization. You’re also responsible for cultivating internal relationships at every level, ensuring that other departments are on board with providing the necessary resources to accommodate these strategic customers. Here are six ways to stay focused during those times when managing key account projects feel like pure chaos.
1) Prioritize your key accounts.
Everyone knows that your key accounts have been identified by your organization as the most strategically significant accounts. Even among these important accounts, however, not every client bears the same weight. Determine which ones have top priority and attend to those first. This may not always related to revenue, but rather other factors such as specific needs or expectations.
2) Analyze and improve your touch rates.
Don’t do more work that is necessary. The easiest way to determine this is to examine your touch rates. For example, a long-standing key client may be due for an upsell with a loyalty discount, as opposed to a key client who has just been recently on-boarded and needs to feel welcome. In both cases, analyze your touch rates (number of emails, phone calls, face-to-face meetings). Then, determine what additional contacts and added value are required. You will soon discover which clients need a high touch rate, and which prefer less of it.
3) Meet with the members of your cross-functional team.
Once you’ve determined the type and frequency of attention that your key clients require, inform everyone on your cross-functional team of the steps required from each relevant department (sales, customer service, customer support, operations) in order to proceed. It’s important that each department point of contact is aware of the nature of requests that can be expected from a particular key client at a given time.
4) Check in with management in other departments.
As a KAM, you’re responsible for handling the internal relationships and attitudes within the organization toward each of your key accounts. This includes keeping other department heads, as relevant, in the loop, and knowing what resources they have available. For instance, a key client may need to have a specific product expedited. This might create a situation in which management in operations would better handle.
5) Get an overview: review retention, revenue, and relationship growth metrics.
Data is important. Have your team review key account revenue metrics such as the percentage of contract renewals versus contracts that drop off upon expiration. Additionally, review churn rates and repeat purchase rates. Also, review the number of support requests from each of your key accounts, and work with your team to reduce these. Lastly, examine your overall relationship growth metrics to gain insight on how you can project actions going forward for improving the relationship between your organization and your key accounts.
6) Get support from the C-suite.
As Lou Schachtner and Rick Cheatham state in their white paper, KAMs need to demonstrate to senior executives that they offer true selling insights in order to obtain necessary resources. Once you know what cooperation and support you can count on from your organization’s top executives, communicate that information to your team and factor that support into the next steps you will take with each key client. The support can take the form of more resources flowing your way, or arranging for a member of the C-suite to make a visit to a highly strategic customer.
When you find yourself at a point where key customer demands have increased or changed, steer through these challenging times by using your current strengths as a KAM. Remember that each key client does not require the same amount or type of attention at any given time. By clearly identifying the needs and wishes of your key account customers at each stage of their partnership with your organization, you’ll determine the best way to manage them. You can then select the best action to take in order to guarantee their ongoing partnership with your organization, all the while maintaining your own sanity and health.