Tools Every Account Manager Should Be Using and How To Wield Them Effectivelyin Voice of Customer, Account Management, SWOT, Key Account Management Tools /
There’s a tool for every job or task. Carpenters use things like hammers, saws, and nails. Accountants use spreadsheets and calculators. And business development reps use phones, email, and CRM. Account managers (AMs) are no different, they have their own specialized tools that make them most productive and effective. Without these specialized tools, we would all take substantially longer to accomplish a less-than-satisfactory result.
To ensure your AMs can work at peak efficiency while producing the desired results, it is essential they use the right tools and wield them effectively. So, what are these important tools that elevate the performance and results of your AMs? They include:
- Voice of Customer (VOC)
- Tracking Customer Goals
- Account Planning
- Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs)
These critical tools free your AMs to focus on the key account relationships instead of redundant administrative processes. But they need to know how to leverage these powerful tools. Here’s how.
A SWOT analysis is your opportunity to consider the internal and external factors that could potentially help or hinder accomplishing customer success. There are 4 components to SWOT: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Strengths and weaknesses are factors relating to your organization, that you and your team can monitor, control, and adjust more easily. These are things like:
- What does the customer like about us or where are we doing well?
- Where are their missed expectations or where are we not aligned?
Opportunities and threats are about the customer in their environment and are more difficult for you to control. The source of these could be competitors, the marketplace, or your customer.
The best way to complete a SWOT analysis is to complete it face-to-face with your client. Do research and develop a few thought-provoking conversation starters to capture insights from the group. You’ll want to include people in various positions across your client’s organization to hear various perspectives. Including key players from the customer side enables you to improve alignment with them and identify top priorities for action planning.
Once your SWOT analysis is complete, enter the details in your account management software where it will be handy when you prepare your action plan.
A voice of customer (VOC) interview is an opportunity to understand the biggest challenges and goals your customer is facing. It should be 30-minutes or less, either face-to-face or by phone, with an important decision-maker to make sure you are on the same page in terms of their needs and priorities. The VOC allows you to gather insightful feedback from your customer concerning their experiences and expectations. It’s an indicator of their current and future loyalty while telling you how your products or services can be improved. Start by creating a list of specific, relevant questions that relate to things like your client’s industry, company, goals, and future plans. Once you have completed your VOC interview, add the insights you gained to your account management platform to refer to as you put together your action plan.
After getting to know your customer through activities like a SWOT analysis and VOC interviews, it’s time to analyze the information and create an account plan. This plan should focus on goals that are mutually beneficial to you and your customer. Create a timeline for each goal and include all the tasks, activities, and milestones needed to reach them. Be sure to include tasks and activities that your client will be responsible for as well. After all, this is a partnership. Then share your plan with the customer, get their input and agreement, and make any necessary adjustments to the plan. Finally, share the agreed-upon plan with the customer and your team to keep everyone involved focused and moving forward.
Tracking Customer Goals
It is essential that you track customer goals, updating the account plan as these goals change, and discuss them in your voice of customer meetings to verify that they are still the appropriate goals. Tracking progress toward reaching your client’s goals enables you to demonstrate value. You want to make sure you’re on pace with the timeline you established, that the strategies being used are working, and that everyone involved is doing their part. Ask the customer how they measure success around their goals and run reports routinely to share with your customer. These can be used to show them progress toward or attainment of goals or to identify challenges to be overcome toward their goals.
Quarterly Business Reviews
QBRs are your chance to get feedback, insights, and future goals. They are an opportunity for leadership and cross-functional teams from both sides to meet, cement the relationship, develop customer engagement, and identify opportunities for mutual growth.
Don’t bore your customer with a massive PowerPoint presentation. Instead, prepare a series of open-ended, thought-provoking questions to encourage meaningful discussion. These can help you fill in gaps of knowledge about the client or prompt conversation around the future. Be sure to ask your day-to-day client contact to co-host the meeting and prepare their own questions as well. And don’t waste the valuable time reviewing past history only, with top decision-makers in the room. You can briefly review it, but the bulk of the meeting should be focused on the future and how to advance the partnership moving forward. You’ll become a trusted advisor by doing this and key client executives will actually show up at these meetings because they’ll find them valuable.
Use these tools wisely to increase your effectiveness as an account manager. You’ll find your customers will notice because you’ll be focused on them and helping them meet their goals. They’ll see more value, making renewals and a long-term relationship likely.
Looking to up your game as an account manager? Kapta has all the tools you need plus templates and roadmaps to guide you. Schedule your demo today.
Jennifer is a Senior Engagement Manager at Kapta