Account managers and key account manager (KAMs), listen up! You’ve got a tough job, but you might be doing a few things in particular that are making your job tougher than it needs to be. Learn about 7 traps that account managers commonly fall into, so you can avoid them for yourself.
1. Being Too Tactical
Key account management is a personal selling style before anything else. Sometimes you can get too caught up in the tactics and the data and forget to develop a strong connection with your top customers first.
If you’re too focused on moving your customers to the next step in the sales pipeline, they’re going to take notice. Using the wrong tactics at the wrong time won’t help you succeed. You need a big picture strategy to guide all your actions so you’re not just trying different tactics to convince your customers to keep buying. Build an account strategy first so you can shape your tactics and actions around that customer in a way that makes sense to them.
2. Not Picking Up the Phone
Phone calls don’t always feel like an important part of your work day, or maybe you just don’t like to make a lot of calls in a day. Phone calls may not be your favorite, but you need to pick up the phone and keep in touch with your customer contacts at the right times. Consistent communication is important. When it’s been too long, you need to place a few calls to check in on your customers.
It’s tempting to turn to less personal means for communicating, such as email. However, talking on the phone is more likely to give you a better result in the end. It helps to reduce the complexity of your messages, makes things happen faster, builds the relationship more effectively, keeps you away from misunderstandings, and shows your commitment to the customer’s success.
3. Being Reactive
There’s nothing worse for your key account customers than a KAM that’s not prepared ahead of time. While you do need to be able to react properly when something completely unpredictable happens, you can’t continually be surprised by everything. If you’re operating on plan A all the time without a plan B for every situation, you’re going to run into a lot more problems than you should.
Reactivity is not a good trait for KAMs. If you feel like you’re caught off guard too often, you need to take some time to observe what’s going on and get prepared for the future again. Don’t let time get ahead of you. Take a moment to create contingencies and make sure you’re on the right path to stay on top of upcoming challenges.
4. Unorganized (Ad-Hoc Systems)
Account plans should be unique for specific customers, but only to certain point. If you’re making it up as you go along, you’ll have a lot of trouble accomplishing your goals or helping your customers accomplish their goals.
Being disorganized also means less time to focus on the relationship aspect of your job. You can’t work to communicate with your customers and build up a better relationship if you don’t have all your information laid out, a plan in place, and your steps planned ahead of time.
Being organized doesn’t always mean doing more. You can delegate responsibilities that you’re having trouble keeping up with. You can delegate tasks like KAM system data entry to your team and embrace technology to remind you about important benchmarks or milestones you should be responding to. Organizing your time well means you’re setting aside time for the relationship-building activities you need to do for your customers rather than leaving that up to chance.
5. Lacking Follow-Through
If you’ve laid the groundwork and made a plan, you need to make sure you do your part. It’s your responsibility to follow through with your commitments without your customers having to ask you to do it. The best service you can provide is taking the initiative and making things happen for them. Following through on all your commitments to customers will improve your relationship with them and keep you in great standing.
What’s worse than simply not following through is forgetting to keep your customers in the loop when you do take actions. You need to keep your customers up to date about the status of the project and the outcome of what you’ve been doing. If your customers are coming to ask what you’ve been doing, because they haven’t been hearing from you, then you need to fix your communication strategy right away!
6. Not Managing Your Pipeline
Making a sale isn’t the end of road for a KAM. You’re not just looking for one-time purchases. For you, the sales pipeline is going on all the time. Even if you’ve just made a sale, you need to keep up with your customers to be aware and take advantage of service renewals and new purchases. You should always be preparing ahead to handle purchase times as well as possible.
If you’re not working with your customers and keeping in touch around the year, they’re not going to be as likely to talk with you once it’s time to renew or make another purchase. It’s obvious at that point that your only goal in the conversation is to make another sale, which is not an attractive quality in a long-term vendor. Instead, you should be communicating year-round so that you’ll be the first one they think about for a new purchase.
Consistent communication and after-sale service also help you keep in touch with what your customers are doing with your products or services. You’ll be able to make better recommendations and potentially upsell to grow the account if there’s something else you offer which could allow them to utilize their existing purchases better. You won’t be in a position to make that kind of recommendation unless you’re working with them consistently rather than just around purchasing times.
7. Only focused on the new sales
New sales are exciting. But, the cost of acquiring new customers is higher than the cost of retaining existing customers. If you’re putting too much time and effort into getting new customers and not enough into keeping your other customers around, you’re getting it backwards.
Customer retention is how you’ll grow your business. If you can keep more customers around, every new customer you add will be a lasting addition rather than a replacement for a customer that left. Existing customers are also more likely to spend more because they’ve already tested your products with good results. By retaining a higher percentage of customers and making repeat sales, you’ll actually be growing revenue without having to spend as much time prospecting.
A lot of account management problems can come about because you just don’t have the right data at the right time to guide your decision-making. Tools like Kapta help you solve that problem so you can avoid falling into traps like not picking up the phone (when you need to) or being too caught up in the tactics without a focus on your overall strategy.
In the free-for-all that is building customer relationships, there are a lot of missteps you can take accidentally. Give yourself the best chance by understanding what can go wrong and preparing ahead for it.