Are You Purposeful With Your Account Plans?in Account Management, Key Account Management /
Being purposeful can mean a variety of different things to different people. In most cases, you’ll interpret it to mean that what you’re doing serves a purpose in the grand scheme of things and you aren’t careless in your actions. When it comes to your account planning activities, are you purposeful?
All too often, account managers will forget that the account plan is the living document that describes the current situation of the account; where they want it to go, how they’re going to get there, and what the end goal looks like. If you aren’t purposeful in planning this document out, you could easily miss a step or, even worse, miss an opportunity to propel the account even further down the road.
Today we want to take a look at a few questions you should ask yourself to determine if you are purposeful with your account plans along with some tips and ideas to help you along the way.
How well do you know your customers?
Start off by asking yourself this question: How well do you really know your customers?
As a key account manager, you are your customers’ strategic partner in their success. You’re the person that they will rely on to help them achieve their goals and improve their business. How can you be expected to do that if you don’t know them genuinely?
We’re speaking strictly in a business sense, although it wouldn’t hurt to have a strong personal relationship with your contacts. Even so, you need to understand your client’s goals for both the short and long term so you can adapt your account plan to help them reach those goals. You also need to understand their specific preferences and what they like and don’t like in a software platform. By knowing this, you can tailor your solutions so they are easy for them to understand and they will actually want to use it.
Finally, you need to know their needs as if they were your own needs. If you don’t have a clear picture of what they want out of your products, services, and this relationship, then you won’t be able to propose practical solutions in your account plan.
Learn more about your customer, and you’ll be on the right track toward creating and implementing purposeful account plans.
Are you really a trusted partner?
The second question you need to ask yourself is whether or not you are the trusted partner for your clients. Do they trust your judgment and think of you as a qualified individual? If the answer is no, it might come down to careless account planning on your part.
Being a trusted partner means that your clients depend on you for their success and firmly believe that without your work and the product and services of your company, they wouldn’t be where they are today. Being a trusted partner is crucial for the success of your account plans and will ensure that your clients stick around over the long term even through tough economic times when they are tightening their belt on a variety of expenditures.
To put some numbers behind this idea, according to CSO Insights, there is a 20 point (50%) difference in the Win Rate between companies that their clients consider as Trusted Partners versus simple Approved Vendors. If being a Trusted Partner can mean significant results like that, you can bet that being more purposeful with your account plans can have organization-wide effects.
You Might Be Falling Short…
In the same study by CSO Insights, they found that 77.9% of sales leaders responding to the survey reported that they were falling short of Trusted Partner or Strategic Contributor status. That’s not good news in the highly competitive business world and with possible tough economic times around the corner, you need to batter down the hatches and get to that status before it’s too late.
There are a variety of ways that you can reach the coveted Trusted Partner title for your strategic accounts. First, it starts by being accountable and holding yourself to higher standards when working on key accounts. One part of that is being purposeful in your accounts plans.
Also, you should know your client inside and out as if you worked in their office. It can be tricky to do at first, but once you have a pulse on their goals, wants, needs, fear, and expectations, you can start adapting your account plan accordingly so you can ensure success.
Thirdly, you need to be approachable and honest with your accounts. The “trusted” part of Trusted Partner is crucial, and establishing that trust and your credentials can take some time. Even so, you must be consistent and demonstrate your value to the client every time you interact with them.
Don’t Go Through the Motions
To summarize the entire point of this post, you can’t simply go through the motions with your strategic account planning. Going through the motions is for flipping burgers and washing cars. Instead, you need to be precise and purposeful in every action that you make. Sure, you might make a mistake every once in a while, but with a solid record of success for your key accounts, they’ll be more forgiving in the long run.
The point is that you need to focus deeply on your customers and really get to know their accounts as if they were your own. Think about how you can improve them and utilize all of the tools available to you to enhance these accounts as you move along. Before you know it, you’ll be climbing the ladder and on your way to becoming their Trusted Advisor.
How Kapta Can Help
Building detailed account plans can take time if you don’t have a basis to start from. Kapta is a powerful account management platform designed specifically for key account management. One of the tools that account managers find useful is the account planning feature. With built-in templates, planning a purposeful account is as easy as filling in the blanks and working from there. To give Kapta a try, schedule your free demo today.
Lesley is a Key Account Management Specialist at Kapta.