Top Tools for Key Account Managersin Key Account Management /
Every profession requires the right tools. Without them, we’d do a poor job and would waste a ton of time chasing our own tails essentially. Ever tried to replace a lightbulb without a ladder? Or have you tried to budget your expenses without a spreadsheet? Yeah, it’s definitely possible to do a ton of stuff without tools, but who wants to?
Key account managers have tools of the trade too, although it might not always seem like that. No, we don’t need hammers or measuring tape, and many of the tools that we use for our job are also tools that we use in our personal lives too. This technology has changed the game, but it seems as if many key account managers might take them for granted or don’t exactly use them to their fullest potential. So, what are the top tools for key account managers and how do you use them correctly? Let’s take a closer look.
We couldn’t start this list without mentioning ourselves and that’s not just because we have a product to push—we use it ourselves and know that it’s really useful in day-to-day work. Just think about how much time you spend daily trying to remember which client is up for review next, which one is ready to scale, and which one still needs an account plan. Kapta puts all of this information, at a glance, in one place. No more jumping from application to application and bogging your work down in spreadsheets!
We developed Kapta to be like the Swiss army knife of key account management. It has everything that you’ll need to get your work done for the day with an intuitive user interface that will feel natural. If you feel like you’re lost on a daily basis and can’t quite get that broad picture to allow you to see the forest through the trees, you need Kapta.
From account planning to Voice of Customer Insights and action plans, Kapta makes it simple to deliver results for your clients. You’re not an IT whiz after all, you’re a people person! Choose a tool that allows you to build a more personal connection with your customers so you can perform in your role to the fullest.
Email has changed the way we interact with people and it’s hard to imagine that snail mail letters will be a thing in the next twenty years or so. It connects us and allows us to communicate with people from across the world almost instantaneously. For any key account manager or any working professional, they know that email is the top tool for communication, but it can also hinder communication if you don’t use it right.
Too often we see key account managers use email as their exclusive tool for communicating with clients. When it comes to sending attachments like revenue growth models or contracts, yes, it’s great. But if you choose to use email instead of the phone in nine out of ten situations, you’ll lose that personal touch and interaction with your clients.
There’s just something special about picking up the phone and talking with clients and allowing the organic chemistry of the conversation to take place. You can exchange ideas and use your personal charm to persuade clients and solve problems. Via email, you have more time to carefully plan your words, so it does have its place; just try not to over-rely on it and let a full inbox bog down your workday.
LinkedIn is a highly undervalued tool that I wish more account managers would leverage. Many people let their LinkedIn profile collect dust and only break it out when they’re on the job hunt. In actuality, you should be using it as a research and connection tool to grow your online and offline network, and potentially help your sales team land new leads.
You can also use LinkedIn as a research tool to help you get a pulse on your clients’ industries so you can further expand your knowledge and get into their mindset. When you know what’s going on in the industry, you’re better prepared to understand their greatest needs and the fears they have about competitors and the industry as a whole. It’s this kind of knowledge that will separate you from the competition and become your clients’ Trusted Advisor.
Additionally, LinkedIn is a valuable resource for the latest and greatest KAM best practices. There’s an entire network of fellow account managers sharing their insights and tips that can help you hone your skills and be a better account manager for your customers.
Just like any social media network, it’s all about who you follow and who you are connected with that will shape your experience there. Follow people that have trustworthy insights and aren’t just trolling to get their foot in the door and fake it until they make it in the professional world. Instead, seek out experts in the field and look for new people that, although not clients yet, could someday become partners with your organization.
Arguably the most underrated communication tool given our other options these days, the good ‘ol telephone can work wonders for your relationships with clients. It offers a personal connection that emails, texts, and messages just can’t match. When you’re chatting with a client in real-time, you allow the natural exchange of ideas to occur, and you can meld your minds to come up with solutions and plan the next steps with the account.
You’re probably thinking, “Duh, of course the phone is an important tool. I use it all the time!” But that might be where you’re wrong. All too often, we get caught up in little things and put the relationship we have with our clients—beyond the dollars, cents, and invoices—on the backburner. If you want your clients to choose your organization and recommend you to their peers and golfing buddies, you need to build a strong, unbreakable personal connection. And that starts by speaking with them on a weekly basis—not waiting for the next QBR.
So, pick up the phone, get your client on the line, and work with them to plan the next stage of their account. Even if nothing really comes of the conversation, talking with them and checking in on them shows that you’re thinking about them and working to make their success happen each and every day.
The internet is a crazy tool/place that has revolutionized pretty much every industry and business over the last couple of decades. It’s kind of hard to imagine what running a business or making deals would be like without this powerful tool, but we often take it for granted. Think about it; you don’t have to check out a book from the library to read up on account management tips and tricks, you just need to do a Google search. This unlimited access to information is right at your fingertips, in your pocket, on your wrist—it’s everywhere! Are you using it to the fullest?
The internet is for more than just funny cat videos and livestreaming Thursday night football. It’s a tool that will put you in touch with the leaders of your industry, potential clients, and the brightest minds across all of key account management. We recommend that key account managers stay proactive not only in their relationship-building efforts but also in their education.
You should be ahead of the curve and know the in’s and out’s of your clients’ services and industry before they even start asking the tough questions. You should be able to spot the overarching trends that are shifting the world around you and plot your client’s next move to capitalize on them. To put it simply, the internet is sort of your crystal ball—are you using it the right way?
Your Company’s Resources
Along with external resources, you might not leverage your company’s internal resources to the fullest. When you’re trying to be the expert of your client’s brand, it’s easy to forget that you should also be the expert of your services and products as well. You might think that you know a ton about what your company does, but every once in a while there’s that one client that has that one peculiar issue and you have to get everyone involved to solve it. Wouldn’t it be nice if you were the expert about everything your company does?
Your clients trust that you have all of the answers, no matter how unreasonable their requests might be. That’s what separates us from the salespeople and the other account managers so you have to get with the program. Don’t just wait for a client to ask a tricky question to turn into the product expert. Instead, consider all of the benefits of your product and match them to your client’s needs. Find a new angle or framing for your product and sell existing customers on the genuine potential if they were to use your product a certain way.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Finally, the last form of technology that you should be leveraging is transportation. Wherever your clients are located, you should go visit them as often as time (and the travel budget) allows. Face time is desperately needed in this day and age thanks to all of the other communication forms on this list. While they are great when you can’t be face-to-face with your clients every day, they can never replace a handshake or an in-person conversation.
As a key account manager, you want to stand above all others in the field and show your clients why they need to work with you and not the rest. Visiting their headquarters and doing business face to face will help to build trust, and you’ll be in the inner circle and one of the few account managers that they’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing lunch with. It might seem old fashioned and many might think that video chat is as personal as they need to get with their clients but the results speak for themselves. Get in front of your clients face to face as often as you can and you’ll add that personal touch that no other technology can quite match.
Technology for key account managers is all about bridging the gap in communication and expanding your knowledge so you can be at the top of your game. As always, it’s not the tools of the trade that make the person, but their inherent skills and natural talents that get the job done. You likely already use all of these tools, and you probably know a few of them really well already. Even so, consider how you’re using the others and how you could be using them to be a better key account management for your clients and for your company.
Kapta believes in relationships first, and number-crunching second. The Kapta platform was developed to make the modern key account manager’s life easier. Rather than spending every day bouncing from app to app and staring at spreadsheets, Kapta does all of the technical work so you can get on the phone and build relationships with your customers. Kapta is the KAM platform that account managers rely on to become the Trusted Advisor for their clients and is a crucial tool to create mutual success. Built into the platform you’ll find powerful tools like Voice of Customer (VOC) Insights, account health scores, account planning templates, and so much more.
Lesley is a Key Account Management Specialist at Kapta.