Account Managers: Five Ways to Start Approaching Your Day with Strategy in Mindin Key Account Management /
How do you start every morning? Maybe you’re a go-getter that hits the alarm at 4:50 AM every day and hits the gym. Maybe you’re lucky if you can rush out of the door with a few minutes to spare. Everyone starts their day differently, but in the key account management world, the best KAMs will start their day with strategy in mind.
Strategy is everything for you. You’re the chess player that can corner any opponent and win every time. You don’t think about what you had for breakfast, and you’re three steps ahead, already thinking about what you’re having for dinner tonight.
The best key account managers will have this type of mental intensity when they work with their clients because they know that it will maximize their results in the end. This strategic mindset doesn’t begin once you’ve powered on your computer for the day and downed your third cup of coffee, and instead starts the second you wake up.
So, if you want to become more strategic for your accounts, you need to start your day with strategy in mind. Here are five ways that you can accomplish just that.
Consider the Big Picture
It’s easy to get caught up in the weeds once you get into the office. While you might have had a clear head earlier at the gym with your sights set on conquering anything and everything that comes your way, once you get to work, and the craziness of the day kicks off, what was once the main priority of the day is inevitably pushed to tomorrow.
In the modern corporate setting, it’s typical for the craziness of emails and phone calls to dictate your day. It might seem like you’re always rushing from one fire to the next and can never really sit and focus on what you’re really there to do.
To help overcome this, you should create a clear and concise, “no-excuses” to-do list. Essentially, you want to silence the phones and the emails and not let them take control over what gets done that day. Create a list of tasks and actions that you could accomplish or do for your priority accounts and sort and organize them by priority.
You want to only focus on things that will have real impacts on your accounts in the long run. Remember, not every win has to be a big one, and by consistently delivering every day, the big picture end results will start to come into vision.
It’s easy for key account managers, especially those extremely driven, to get not only caught up in the weeds by their emails and calls but by their own lofty goals. It’s easier to accomplish four separate small tasks than to try and tackle one big week-long task and if you’re dedicating all of your time to only one huge task or goal, you’re likely missing out on tons of easier steps that will get you the same results in the end.
Consider the immediate steps you can take to help your client today and the huge goals you’ve set will seem much more achievable.
Focus on One Thing
At the start of the day, a lengthy to-do list can seem insurmountable, and with dozens of actions and tasks on your schedule, analysis paralysis starts to set in. there are only so many hours in the day, and even the most skillful key account managers will struggle to cross everything off of their list.
The secret to providing consistent results for your clients isn’t doing one big thing in a single fell swoop. Instead, it comes from doing one specific task or action each and every day and making it a habit. This way, you can drown out the noise of other things that aren’t as crucial and instead get at least one wow-worthy thing done for your clients so you can feel accomplished for the day and be one step further down the account plan.
So, what will “wow” your accounts? Even if you might not want to admit it, there is probably one specific goal or result that will make their day. Maybe it could be mapping out their strategy for the next quarter and getting it to them a couple of days before they expected it. Or, maybe your time would be better spent renegotiating their service agreement.
You know your accounts better than anyone else, and depending on your industry, product, or services, the daily tasks might be different. Even so, make an effort to wake up in the morning with a specific goal or task in mind and if you do nothing else all day, get that one thing done, and you’ll be far more productive than if you’d run out around juggling four different tasks at once.
Check On Their Industry
Are you much of a news person? Hopefully, you are, and read more than just the headlines from the NFL offseason. The business section of the newspaper is there for a reason, and keeping up with the latest industry news can help you in more ways than one.
Depending on the mission and client base of your company, you might either deal with companies from all sorts of industries or just ones specific to your company’s industry. Whatever the case may be, you can greatly improve your relationships and become more strategic automatically if you take the time to catch up on the goings on of the markets and the business world.
Although you’re a proactive person, your clients and their companies most likely aren’t so any big news could cause them to make sudden changes to their account or abandon your services or products altogether. You need to stay in the loop and prepare for any emergencies.
Beyond just knowing when your accounts are in red alert, having a general sense of what their industry is doing will show your clients that you care about their outcomes and have an above average understanding of how their business model works. Rather than seeing them as just another company signed on, you see them as a partner and a customer that really matters to your bottom line.
Checking on their industry news at the start of the day can change your entire game plan if something big happens, but most days, it is just a good way to get into the mindset of your customer and their customers so you can truly start understanding what they care about most.
Maybe it’s a recent surge in import costs for the electrical components going into their products. Maybe it’s a large acquisition of a competitor that has them nervous. There are a variety of things that can change the way you conduct your day. Pay attention to the signs and your clients will notice.
Pick Up the Phone
In the digital age, it’s easy to rely on email for correspondence. Email is convenient. Email is always there. Emailing is easy. Do you want to know what’s not easy? Building long-term, successful relationships with your clients and the only way to get there is by putting in the effort and going above the bare minimum.
You might think that your day is so hectic that all you have time to do is email, but have you considered how much time an email thread can take when a quick phone call can accomplish more in only a few minutes? Sitting there waiting for a client to get back to you on a question can be stressful and draining, and if they don’t respond until later in the evening, you’ll have wasted an opportunity to make progress on their account.
Phone calls, on the other hand, are instant, and the back and forth communication of a natural conversation over the phone adds not only to your credibility as a person and not an email address, it also makes it easier to get the information you need now, not later.
So, as the fourth tip to help you start your day with strategy in mind, make it a goal to have at least three phone calls each day to contacts that really matter to your company and work towards building the relationship.
You don’t need to spend an hour with each of them on the phone every day, but even just ten to fifteen minutes of voice time can do wonders to adding some personality to your organization and establishing a trusting relationship with the contacts.
Keep this habit of three phone calls every day, and by the end of the year, you’ll look back and feel amazed at how much leg work you put into growing and nourishing your key account relationships.
Always Remember the End Goal
The fifth and final tip might be the most crucial to staying motivated, diligent, and in a strategic mindset from the start all the way to the end of the day. Keeping the end goal in mind can often be the differentiator between a good and a greet key account management.
Unlike sales or other areas of management, without results, key account management professionals struggle to do their job (relationship growing) adequately. You can’t afford to drop the ball for the biggest clients your company works for, so driving results and exceeding the customer’s expectations are the ultimate goals.
Starting with the end in mind is a crucial mindset that will help you become more strategic almost automatically. If you know exactly what your customer desires and what they expect of you in the end, then you can start taking tiny steps forward each day and get one step closer to accomplishing their goals.
When you do everything with the end in mind, then when you’re sitting at your desk staring at a to-do list or find yourself doing something throughout the day almost autonomously, you can stop and ask yourself, “how will this get me to my client’s end goal?” If you can’t come up with a clear and concise answer to that question, then you must do something differently.
Your account plans should clearly show where the account is now and where it needs to be in the future. If it isn’t as cut and dry as that, then you need to speak with your clients and fix that. Goals and objectives change, and no matter how long you’ve worked with a client, you can always learn more about their expectations from you and your company.
Start with the end in mind every morning when you get out of bed, and you’ll head into the office ready to conquer your client’s goals for the day.
Being strategic in your daily work can be challenging if you don’t start the day on the right foot. Adapting a strategic mindset is the first step towards tackling goals for both your company and your client’s company, however, so taking steps to approach each day with a strategic mindset is critical.
Pay attention to your clients’ needs and make sure that you’re using your time wisely. If you can demonstrate that you’ll go above and beyond for them, you’ll go a long way in exceeding your client’s expectations and growing the relationship. Finally, with the end goal in mind in everything you do, you’ll ensure that you stay on the right track and are doing more with your day to help your customers.
How Kapta Can Help
Kapta is a key account management platform designed specifically with the relationship in mind. Rather than bogging you down with more spreadsheets and complicated tables, Kapta offers an intuitive user interface that KAMs can use to easily track and manage important data related to their most important client. Easily create and edit Account Plans with the built-in templates, improve engagement through VOC Insights, and even track the account’s Overall Health Score all in one platform. To see how Kapta can help your KAM program, request your free demo today.
Alex Raymond is the CEO of Kapta.