As an account management leader, there are a wide variety of responsibilities to manage. Between improving client relationships, growing your business revenue, and prioritizing consumer retention, there is so much more to becoming a successful account manager, or key account manager.
Whether you’re someone with years of experience or this is a new career change, you may be experiencing various challenges such as cluttered internal processes, difficulty communicating, missing important opportunities, and other aspects.
Learn more about what crucial information and indicators to look for to become a successful account manager in these essential topics below. No matter what industry you’re in, you can easily apply these skills into your daily work and grow your professional career.
Table of Contents
Why Are Customer Touch Points Important?
A customer touchpoint is virtually any interaction between a customer and a business. Whenever customers and businesses exchange information or complete a transaction, this is considered a touchpoint. A touchpoint is also any occasion when a company or business provides any service, engages with a prospective customer through outreach, or otherwise has an opportunity to increase the sense of trust a customer has in a business.
Customer touch points are one of the most valuable assets to improving customer experience and the relationships that your business establishes with them, both directly and indirectly. When it comes to these touchpoints, you can easily identify positive opportunities for touchpoints for existing and prospective clients. This will improve insight into accounts and client movements, and create a more consistent stream of touchpoints.
How Do Touch Points Affect My Business?
As a B2B organization both direct and indirect touchpoints frequently occur throughout your industry. Some common touchpoints that you can see are as follows:
- Conversations with salespeople or customer service representatives
- Discussions with other customers that may or may not refer your business
- The actual transaction
These interactions aren't just considered to be positive or negative for the consumer alone, but your business as well. Even the same touchpoint can have different results. Take a look at this example:
Your client is experiencing a user issue with your product. They contact you and try to get the issue resolved. There are two potential outcomes.
- The Positive Outcome: The account manager answers the call, identifies what's causing the issue, and walks the customer through how to resolve the error in real-time. The customer’s source of frustration is gone, they understand more about the platform and your services, and have an overall very pleasant interaction with you. Now, they know that the next time they run into a problem, you and your key account team will help them.
- The Negative Outcome: The account manager doesn't pick up. The account manager sees that a customer called and then receives an email from the consumer about the issue. As the AM doesn't know how to help, they escalate the ticket to an overcrowded customer support queue. The customer is losing money because of the delay, so they start browsing for alternative account management tools and services due to frustration. Even if they don’t leave the partnership, they may want to since they had a negative experience.
While each touchpoint may vary depending on the situation, there are ways that you can improve these. Taking steps such as:
- Researching your customers’ journey
- Understanding the consumers perspective
- Planning out customer touchpoints
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Learn more about why customer touchpoints are so important and how you can improve yours by reading our guide.
Establishing a QBR Cadence
A QBR, or quarterly business review, is something that isn’t always utilized by account managers. However, it is one of the best ways to get a deeper understanding of what is going on within your business, any potential issues that are happening internally and externally, and to set goals for the future.
A successful account manager can use QBRs to gain insight into problems with processes, communications, and bottlenecks so they can implement improvements over the next quarter. Ultimately, they can strengthen relationships and ensure the peak of the relationship isn't just once the customer becomes a client of the business. QBRs also show your clients that your business is invested in the success of the customer and their opinions and needs.
What Should Take Place During a QBR?
A quarterly business review is a quarterly meeting between you and a key client to assess past performance and future possibilities. This conversation would be done by an AM and can cover grounds such as:
- Were there any service, product delays, or disappointments that negatively impacted the client?
- What is the quality of current communication? Would the client prefer more or less communication than they got, and what were their favorite and least favorite interactions?
- What services or interactions would the client have wanted to see that they didn't?
- What interactions or levels of service were particularly helpful or enjoyable?
- To what extent did your business aid in the customer's success over the past quarter?
- If you have conducted a QBR, were issues from the past QBR substantively addressed or resolved?
All of these questions can be asked directly or you can send your questions and have them answer them separately. Once you’ve conducted your research and heard back, you’ll have a deeper understanding of what is going on and be able to fix any issues, if they are brought up. This conversation doesn’t have to be long or formal, but it should be more than just a typical “pulse check” with the client. When conducting these QBRs your account managers can also:
- “Resell” your services to the client
- Explain the product and the value of the product
- See any early signs of customer churn
- Avoid any potential customer churn
A successful QBR is a structured and relatively predictable process. Make sure that your account managers have this information:
- Notes from last QBR
- Past customer health scores
- Last quarter performance reviews
- Short term and long term goals
- Any action plans to address any concerns
These meetings are opportunities to listen to your customer’s biggest pain points and wins, ensure that your organization is actually providing value, and determine how to increase that value over the coming months. To learn more about what to look for in a successful quarterly business review, check out our blog.
Leading and Lagging Indicators Your Team Should Hit
When analyzing your business, it's crucial to note any different perspectives you can use to help find problem solving tools for any current pain points you may be experiencing. If you see key account retention slipping through your fingertips, it's important to dig into the issue; don't just stop at employee performance, unwieldy CRM, or the first cause that crosses your path.
Let's imagine that your business is a car. Leading indicators look forward, through the windshield, at the road ahead. Lagging indicators look backward, through the rear window, at the road you've already traveled.
If you just focus on how bumpy or smooth the road is at the present moment, you can't slow down, change your course, or effectively pick up speed. Learn how to incorporate these before, during, and after assessments by:
- Understanding what leading and lagging indicators are and their importance
- How to start monitoring and measuring these indicators
- Why these indicators are crucial for helping your team navigate toward their goals
Taking a Look at Leading and Lagging Indicators
Leading indicators are forward thinking metrics. They precede events or milestones; good analyzers can use them to predict events and likely outcomes. Lagging indicators follow key points in time, which managers can use to measure success and results.
With a proper balance of both leading and lagging indicators in your view, you can implement changes based on predicted future outcomes. You can also ensure that your business is operating at a healthy continued output. Some of the key uses for measuring leading versus lagging indicators to grow your business include getting answers to these questions:
- For leading indicators: What are the warning signs that a process needs to change or that there should be an intervention? What steps need to be improved?
- For lagging indicators: What are the warning signs that a process needs to change or that there should be an intervention? What steps need to be improved?
Incorporating These Into Your Business
You can include both leading and lagging indicators in various ways. You can include them in your QBRs, performance assessments, and evaluation processes. Be sure to include both types of indicators, if you only include one type, you’re not getting the full picture and therefore won't be able to use them to their full potential.
Start reaching your goals by including leading and lagging indicators into your business practice. Learn more about these types of indicators and how your team should be hitting them, check out our blog.
Building Internal Support and Alignment for the Role of a KAM Leader
As a key account manager (KAM) internal support can truly help improve the level of success. Account Managers need a unique set of tools to provide the right level of service and proactive management to key accounts. While general customer accounts may make up the vast majority of your total accounts, your organization's key accounts can provide up to 33% of your organization's total sales revenue.
Along with holding a substantial portion of the revenue pipeline, key accounts may form a substantial block of your referrals, testimonials, and other elements essential to your organization's brand identity.
How Do KAMs Become Successful?
KAMs aren’t just responsible for sales through upsells and cross-selling; they also help retain customers, which leads to more profitable growth, stable and reliable cash flow, and a better reputation in your industry. Shifts in how B2B organizations need to view their sales processes demonstrate the growing value of trained account managers that build their book of business over time without dropping customers as soon as they sign a contract.
Some of the valuable skills that KAMs bring to your organization include:
- Sales knowledge: Trained KAMs can sell existing customers and strong leads on core products, additional offerings, and higher volumes of goods or services over time.
- People skills: Currently, sales and long-term B2B customer relationships rely on positive interactions. Some B2B customers may stick with a subpar service provider for a while because of long vendor processes, it's easier than ever to switch to a company that offers better support. When your AMs can understand clients' unique roles and needs, proactively resolve issues for seamless interactions, and stay on top of personalized details so the client contacts feel a connection, that leads to long-term retention.
- Nurturing relationships: This involves strategically scheduled touchpoints, ongoing account maintenance, and never letting customers feel ignored. It is about the long term, not the short.
- Listening skills: The best way to learn more about customer needs and experiences, whether through welcome calls or through analytic tools like a SWOT analysis or voice of customer conversation, is to listen instead of sell.
Supporting Your KAM
Since KAMs can generate high levels of sales, up to 55% of new sales today, supporting your KAM is essential. Here are some easy ways to help support their role.
- Tech Stack
To learn more and take a deeper dive into the internal support for your team's key account managers, take a look at our guide.
Ensuring Your Account Management Team is Equipped
You can have the strongest account managers, but if they aren't given the skills and tools to succeed, they won’t be as impactful as they could be. Strong sales and account management leaders can pave the way to innovative, customer-centric workflows and organizational changes. However, as you're reorganizing how your team operates, tracking your KPIs and metrics, and even investigating your internal sales processes, it's equally as important to take a moment and evaluate your department's tools as it is to your goals.
Depending on your own resources or the previous knowledge of your team, your account management team may be lacking new and innovative training. This may be a good starting point but depending on how dated that knowledge is, it won’t be as impactful or successful. Specifically related to today, dated knowledge can make your team feel less equipped and undervalued and could even lead to the resignation of your employees.
One of the best ways to put your new ideas and objectives as an account manager leader is to have a tech stack that aligns with those current processes and enables success. Let’s take a look at how you can improve.
Creating a Successful Account Management Team
You can start by updating and creating new process documents. Even if nothing has changed, having everything laid out in an orderly fashion allows your employees to have a resource to turn to, should they need it. This can include templates, FAQs pages, and procedure documents. It's crucial that you focus on developing the process and resources that your team needs.
- Understanding of your company's processes, customers, and company mission
- The sales process: Account managers need to be able to help prospective customers understand where they are in the buying process and what next steps are.
- Additional processes: They need to provide concrete answers regarding shipping, returns, help tickets, installation, service levels, and any other processes that your products and services entail.
- Buyer personas and ideal customers: Account managers need to know the different types of customers your products can serve so they can personalize interactions and suggestions properly. This knowledge also helps them understand what marketing strategies and expectations clients were previously exposed to.
- Company policies (internal and external), the mission statement, and employee handbooks: An account manager who understands your company's vision is one that can embody it and help customers feel connected to the mission. Employees that are also more engaged, feel valued, and don't have work-related stress are better brand advocators.
Skills to Look for in an Account Manager
Professional knowledge is not the only skill to look for. For successful account managers should have the following skills:
- Good communication
- The ability to recognize and take responsibility for mistakes
- Advanced approaches and problem-solving skills
Account managers need these skills so they can both retain and grow your company's key account. Through skills-based training, they can learn more about how to start relationships, how to proactively search for growth opportunities that are customer-centric instead of sales-focused, and have an in-depth understanding of their clients' needs and plans.
Learn more about how to ensure your team is equipped by reading our guide.
In order to thrive and be successful, key account managers need specialized tools, training, and resources that will help them proactively and strategically manage client accounts for optimal growth and retention. At Kapta, we provide comprehensive training in fundamentals and advanced approaches so your key account management team can grow over time and ultimately become the most successful.
Contact us today to learn more about the resources we offer and schedule a demo. Our products and services have been built to help align organizational goals and improve internal processes.