H2H over B2B: Focus on the Human Element of Key Account Management

As an account manager, it can be easy to get caught up in the numbers. If you’re like most account managers, you didn’t land in the position from the start – you had to work your way up from sales.

Starting in sales isn’t a bad thing at all, and the skills that you learned there will go a long way in your key account management career. There is one attribute that plagues the entire sales department, however. Do you know what it is? Here’s a hint: it’s in the name.

That’s right. Salespeople live and breathe for one thing: to make sales! That makes sense, after all, they’re paid based on how many sales they close. If they don’t make sales, they don’t do well. It’s as simple as that.

In key account management, the script is flipped, and your focus is on building the relationship first and making the sale second. Are you still stuck thinking of the sale in every decision? Here are some tips and tricks that will help you overcome this and adopt a more human-centric mindset.

It’s All About the Human Relationship

One of the core tenants of key account management is focusing on the 205 of clients that produce 80% of the results. This 20% of clients need extra attention and care, which is why you’re the perfect person for the job!

With that in mind, you still must always keep the human relationship as the primary priority in everything you do. How can you affect their outcomes? What moves can you make today that will lead to mutual success years down the road?

It’s all about playing the long game and doing everything that you can do to ensure they reach their desired outcome. Their success is your success after all.

So, let the sales department worry about the numbers and dollars and instead, focus on how your relationships are growing and performing over time. In time, the relationships will equal revenue.


How well do you know your customers?

When I ask this question, I don’t mean that you know their favorite movie and kind of ice cream, but more what their goals and intentions are. What do they expect to gain from using your company?

If you want to provide them with custom solutions that lead to expectation-obliterating results, you have to know what drives them. It’s also important to understand how they personally define success. It might seem like “success” is a self-explanatory, objective term, but in reality, every organization and every person within that organization will define it differently.

Finding the answer to this question can be as simple as asking them, or as complex as conducting an account audit to see the pain points even they don’t know exist. I highly recommend that you make the focus of your next Voice of Customer (VOC) interview around their ideal outcome. Once you discover what drives your client and you know about their definition for success, you’ll have a clear goal and area of focus while you continue building the relationship.


Take Your Time

Like I mentioned earlier, the art of building relationships takes time, and Key Account Management is focused on the long game. These aren’t customers that you’ll make a quick buck off of and then disappear until they need you next. Instead, these are clients that you speak with on a weekly (if not more often) basis.

For time reason, I recommend that you take your time while building and nourishing this relationship. Building trust takes time, and you most definitely can’t fake it. If you want your clients to see you as their trusted advisor and the primary driver for their success, you need to think long-term.

One way to help with this is to create a detailed account plan for each of your key accounts. This will list all of their objectives and goals, and you can start thinking of the tasks and actions you can take to help them get to their ideal outcome.

Relationship Maps also come in handy here. Since you’ll most likely need to speak with different people at your client’s organization, it’s good to know who’s who, and who makes the decisions and who is merely a gatekeeper.


Conduct Regular VOC Interviews

How often do you speak with your clients one-on-one? A VOC interview is the perfect way to clear up any confusion and ask them direct questions that will help you strategize for the future. Along with finding out their definition of success as mentioned earlier, you also want to know what failure looks like so you can try and avoid it.

Also, ask about their goals for the future and ask them regularly. Things change, and what they wanted three weeks ago might not be the same during the next VOC interview. The primary purpose of conducting regular VOC interviews is to stay up to date with your key accounts and ensure that the relationship is on the right track.


Don’t Forget to Follow Up!

Asking these questions and getting an answer is nice, but you need to make sure you follow up! Whenever you take action on the account, follow up with the client to get their thoughts and gauge their response to the work you’re doing.

So, whenever an event happens with the key account or if you just have a question on something you discuss a few weeks ago, don’t be afraid to reach out. This not only ensures you’re on the right track but also shows that you are proactive in your work for them.


Do What You Say

Finally, you need to ensure that you operate with the highest level of integrity. If you tell your client that you’ll do something for them, no matter how small or big the task is, follow through on it! This works to build trust and will help the relationship grow and nourish for years to come.


How Kapta Can Help

Kapta is a powerful account management platform design specifically for key account managers. If you find that you spend far too much time in spreadsheets and not enough time talking to your clients, Kapta can help. Give it a try by requesting a free demo today!


CEO at Kapta
Alex Raymond is the CEO of Kapta.