When you’re into key account management up to your ears, it’s easy to lose sight of the forest because you’re focused on the trees. Of course, you strive to provide superior service to each account, but some accounts call for more time than others. Along the way, some client accounts get missed, their principal contacts begin to feel neglected, and they end up switching to a competitor who offers the same service. Or, they just call and complain, which, in itself, is really a signal that they need more of your attention. In either event, your track record for expertly managing key accounts takes a temporary hit when a client isn’t happy.
Because you’re an expert at building business relationships, you know you need a plan for keeping accounts and, sometimes, for winning back dissatisfied clients. Here, we offer four tips for proactively managing client accounts that will help you along the way.
The devil is in the details!
Every client account requires a different amount of nurturing to flourish and grow. It’s easy for key account managers to get too busy with other accounts and then draft a quick plan of action for recovering a lost account. You might have to schedule a business lunch with your contact, or you might need to make a ten-minute phone call to get the relationship back on track. Make a plan to do whatever it takes. Each key account is important to your company.
Be thoughtful about the execution of your plan.
Each client account is ultimately lost for a reason, unless it was the result of an external event that was beyond your control. Your goal is to be proactive and keep clients from reaching that point of frustration.
As you are developing a plan for either keeping or winning back a key account, carefully consider what that plan should entail. Is there anything specific to this customer that should be included in your plan? Are there are promises you have or haven’t fulfilled for them? Are there any goals that you know are a priority? What other value are you providing specifically for this customer?
Your proactive plan should be tailored to each client and their individual wants or needs, whether that account is on solid ground or not.
Ensure that you’re working your business relationships.
This might mean speaking candidly to a client contact or repeating the benefits of the ongoing relationship. Do mention the ways that you’ve worked together effectively in the past. Do make contacts with other people in that company who are your friends or business acquaintances, and get them to help you mend fences. Use colleagues and your boss as resources to smooth over whatever has gone wrong. Your plan of action will require careful execution, but your #1 goal is to get the client back or to troubleshoot a strained relationship.
Always bring the conversation back to the value that a client is trying to achieve by using your product or service.
Taking a step back from the situation helps you to see why an account was lost or why a client is now unhappy. The reason that the client signed up for the product or service in the beginning is the best selling point for maintaining or rebuilding the business relationship.
Your success as a key account manager is important to you, your customers, and your business. Without your efforts at proactively nurturing relationships, clients may simply take their business somewhere else. The harsh reality is that, likely, they wouldn’t think twice about it, because they always have other options and well, business is business.
Becoming more proactive at keeping and winning back customers isn’t a full-time job, but it’s something good account managers make time for every week. Your success as a key account manager depends on your ability to understand client needs and earn their loyalty for as long as possible.