Creating an ironclad plan for key account management that guides individual account growth and gives you organization-wide insight isn't easy. As you try to implement team-wide processes, individuals may have routines or procedures that are more geared toward B2C account management rather than B2B account management.
Instead of just relying on technology to strengthen your department's performance, we recommend operating from a key account strategy template that you and your team can use to consistently establish business relationships. Without a clear process, it's hard to communicate — let alone reach — your goals. In fact, according to a report released by Gartner:
Only 28% of sales leaders agree that account management channels regularly meet cross-selling and account growth goals.
In this guide, we'll discuss crucial differences between B2B and B2C key account strategies, how confusing them could be holding performance back, how to create management strategies that fully utilize available technology, and how Kapta can help.
B2B vs. B2C Key Account Strategy
Just searching for a "key account strategy" online isn't going to get you the results you need for a B2B organization. You're much more likely to find B2C guides that pull information from both areas and create a patchwork understanding of best practices for key account management.
As you develop your strategies, make sure you and your team stay vigilant about these key differentiators between B2C and B2B account management:
- Sales Cycle Length: Compared to short B2C sales cycles, B2B cycles are more complex, much longer, and require much more strategizing. The sale itself is likely to have a higher price tag than the typical B2C sale, so key account managers need to have continual insight into small fluctuations in health so you can achieve that significant pay-off at the end.
- Differences in Personas: While B2C customer personas can provide basic details and preferences, B2B personas need to be much more precise and detailed. Making a sale in this sector requires working with multiple stakeholders, each of whom has very different preferences, needs, and expectations. When you're making a B2C sale, chances are you're just speaking to one person per sale.
- Marketing Approaches and Touchpoints: For both B2B and B2C sales, the general strategy of 'the more touchpoints, the better' is generally true. However, it becomes much more complex in B2B markets. The touchpoints need to be designed for multiple different stakeholders at different stages of the research and buying process without the risk of ad fatigue.
Knowing these differentiators can help you continue to pull good tactics from generalized advice and avoid crafting B2C strategies for your B2B clients.
Your Key Account Strategy Template for Success
Ultimately, it's important to have a go-to strategy so each team member will follow a proven, standardized practice that they can then customize to their individual clients. Your key account management strategy should be well-organized with a clear step-by-step structure that both empowers account managers and allows constant insight into account health.
Build your key account strategy around these key steps:
Define Your Key Account Strategy and Team
To get started, you need to know which account managers should be part of your core key account management team and what criteria separate key accounts from the rest of your accounts. If there's any uncertainty about when an account reaches that threshold, the following issues could arise:
- Burgeoning key accounts not getting the unique allowances or attention they need
- Conflict in the key account management team as lucrative accounts are arbitrarily assigned
- Confusion between the financial worth and strategic worth of an account
During this process, make sure there's a set procedure for changing the criteria or allowing trusted stakeholders in the organization to identify irregular key accounts. This flexibility for one-offs will allow your organization to grow without either pigeonholing the definition of key accounts or letting too many exceptions slide through.
Select Key Accounts
Once your leadership team has identified what characteristics make up a key account, you can sort through your existing accounts to identify which ones fall under the key account category based on your criteria. These accounts can then be shifted over to a key account management platform that speaks with your general CRM while allowing for specialized attention.
Implement KAM Software
Your organization may not have KAM software in place, but it fills gaps a CRM can't. After all, CRM tools are generally used to convert visitors into leads and lead into customers as quickly as possible. But key account management is about cultivating a long-term relationship that is peppered by upsells, cross-sells, and renewals.
Look for KAM software that gives your team both flexibility and structure. It should also integrate smoothly with your existing software so all of your tools can communicate seamlessly and update account details without operating in silos.
Build Key Account Plans
At this stage, the account manager should create a unique key account plan for each existing and new client. This plan should include the long-term objectives of the client relationship, key contacts within the client's organization, and what steps the key account manager should take to reach their goals.
Focus on Relationship Building
While the objectives on the key account may be to get sales, gain exposure, or otherwise strengthen your organization, the methodology is all about relationship building. Great software and organization allow your account managers to focus on building personal ties, predicting client needs, and entrenching your organization in the client's roadmap for success.
Start Building Your B2B Key Account Strategy With Kapta
At Kapta, we specialize in providing the software infrastructure you and your key account management team need to succeed. Our software is built with customizable plan templates, robust data and analytics functions, and more.
It also integrates with major B2B CRMs so you can keep key account management as a central part of account management while getting the unique insights and benefits you need from key accounts. Contact us today to learn more about our software or to schedule a demo.