How to be More Collaborative as a Key Account Managerin Key Account Management /
Many people might wrongly assume that the key account management game is a solo game. It’s basically playing solitaire or Pac-Man. In reality, key account management is a highly-collaborative job, and whether you’re talking with your client, your team members, or your boss, you need to make sure that you’re communicating well.
Are you struggling to be more collaborative as a KAM? We have a few pro tips and suggestions to help you become more of a team player and see greater results because of it.
Your Role on the Team
We’re pretty big sports fans here at Kapta, so we love to use sports analogies whenever possible (if you’ve followed this blog for long enough, you’ve probably noticed).
I like to think of the key account manager as the quarterback of the team. They call the plays, they give the ball to the person that will get it in the end zone, and the success or failure of the team ultimately falls on them at the end of the day.
No one ever said that being a quarterback was easy, and the same is true for key account management. Even so, if you’ve found yourself in this role, chances are you have the right attributes and skills to make it; let’s make sure that you can share those skills with your team members to make winning easier.
You Need Support
You might find that you’re the kind of person that likes to do things on their own. You’d rather deal with all of the headaches and stresses of a challenge by yourself as a test to see if you can do it. This mindset makes sense in theory, but being stubborn and self-sufficient can be detrimental to your success in the long-run.
Managing a key account takes skills, tons of time, and hours of effort. If you go it alone, you might be successful, but you also might make mistakes along the way. Many of these mistakes are 100% avoidable if you have a team to lean on and support you.
Going back to the sports analogy, you won’t ever find a Super Bowl winning team with only one star. Sure, the Patriots might have Tom Brady on the team, but there’s also Gronk, Edelman, Amendola, and a stellar defense.
Even the NBA, where teams with only one star used to win championships, is now filled with super teams. Do you think the Warriors could have won the last two years with only Klay Thompson? Sure, he’s great, but the supporting cast is what makes them winners.
You Need Key Players
With this long-winded analogy in mind, you need to find your supporting team members. Whether they’re other key account managers, salespeople, members of your client’s organization or others, you want a diverse team that brings better understanding and a diverse background to help you tackle the tough challenges along the way.
Collaborating with team members will make it easier to conquer challenges. After all, two heads are better than one, but imagine if you have five experienced brains to pick? How could that help you in your daily work with your key accounts?
How You Can Benefit
Going back to the thought of attempting to manage multiple high-level accounts on your own as a way of self-perseverance, what can you get out of collaborating with others?
Well, besides the elimination of strain and pressure on yourself, working with other people and providing advice for their own problems can provide you with a fresh perspective. If you work with another account manager and give them advice on their account, you shouldn’t count it as helping the other team win. Key account management isn’t a competition, and if someone else on the team succeeds, you’re all succeeding within the organization.
Also, we learn to overcome future challenges by solving different problems today. Your team member might be struggling with something you’d never encountered. After you work with them to overcome the challenge, moving forward, you’ll have that experience to bring to your own accounts if you were ever to run into the same obstacle.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Moving on from the last point, these are the reasons that you should never be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Whether you’re seeking guidance from your boss or another team member, we all have experiences that we can pull from to solve new and unique challenges.
Avoiding this help and taking the stubborn approach of solving problems on your own only leads to wasted hours and way too much stress. Something that you have to mull over all week could be quickly resolved in a few hours with the help of your team.
Asking for help isn’t a weakness, and it won’t make you seem like you know what you’re doing. Instead, it’ll show that you’re a team player, and open to new ideas and suggestions, which can take you further in the long-run.
Another essential part of collaboration is communication. You need to be able to speak to your team members and clients in a way they understand. It might surprise you, but not everyone knows what you mean at first.
For this reason, I often recommend that people over-communicate. You should say more than you need to so everyone is on the same page. This helps you avoid wasting time, making mistakes, and saves resources in the long-run.
Need to set up an appointment but don’t have the time to do it? Don’t be afraid to delegate when needed! Running an efficient operation is all about maximizing everyone’s time. So, although you might be swamped with work, your buddy across the hall might not be. Delegate tasks to others when needed to help you save time and make everyone feel like they are a part of your team.
Go for the Win/Win
Finally, in everything you do, you must go for the win/win outcome. That means that not only your organization but your client’s company wins through you and your team’s efforts. Think of the account’s success as your own, and you’ll be far more likely to win in the end.
Alex Raymond is the CEO of Kapta.