It doesn’t matter what line of work you’re in; time can be costly. When you think of labor hours and how long it takes to get a project done, you calculate that into the cost. How about when you’re implementing new tools?
For most, they don’t really budget for time when they’re implementing a new key account management tool. Instead, they think about how much it is going to cost them to license the software and what their annual subscription will be. The thing is, time is money, and although it can be easy to get caught up in the weeds about how much money something costs, when you start accounting for time, you might be amazed at how much money you can save even with a more expensive product.
Today, we’re going to take a look at a few reasons why budgeting time is equally, if not more, important than budgeting money. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll come away with a better perspective on the buying process and consider more than just the price tag.
Don’t Believe Us? Conduct An Internal Audit
So, some of you might be a little bit skeptical about the idea of treating time and money as equal considerations in the buying process, and that’s okay. When you’re shopping around for tools to make your team’s roles easier, it becomes pretty simple to just look at the price and review of software rather than a bigger perspective of time.
Here’s a simple exercise that you can do: open up a spreadsheet and start jotting down different time considerations and add it up again. Treat it the same way that you would budget for money, but instead of dollars and cents, it’s minutes and hours that you’re measuring. Think of every stage in the buying process and how long each of them takes. Go from researching the different products to chatting with sales reps to getting the budget approved to implementing the tool all the way until it’s a daily platform your team uses—the time starts to add up.
In just the financial approval process alone, you’ll find that it can take weeks sometimes depending on how large your organization is just to get the sign-off from accounting. With so many days spent on this project, it becomes pretty clear that time is an investment, so sometimes it’s best to consider it first before looking at the price tag.
How Long Does it Take to Build the Habit?
Even after you’ve installed the new tool on all of your team’s computers, there’s still a time price to be paid. Unless you work with a team of tech wizards, they’ll likely need some time to learn how to use the program, integrate it into their daily workflow, and build the habit of turning to it first rather than looking for the old platform.
In many cases, it takes around 66 days to create a habit, which is a little over two months out of the year. That’s half a quarter! Two months can fly by, but when your team is busy learning how to use a new program, your clients will notice. While there isn’t really any getting around the learning and habit-building phase, it’s pretty clear that it’s always better to choose a platform that has a quicker pick-up time than one that will take forever for the team to learn—if they ever do!
If you can find a key account management tool that is easy for the team to start using right out of the gate, then you can save a tremendous amount of time all while keeping your clients happy during the initial phase. Once they get the new system into their daily workflow, they’ll hopefully be more efficient, and your team will be optimized to deliver results time and time again for a significant return on your investment.
It’s Time to Get Organized
How can you go about budgeting time for a new tool? Like every great project, you need to make sure that you are organized and using your existing tools to track and manage specific data sets, time being the key metric in this case. You do this so you can split the total time between departments and determine which of the tools will save you the most.
Think about all of the phases that you’ll go through until the tool is implemented and try not to skip a step. Even something as seemingly small as working with the developer’s customer service to find the right enterprise package can take some time, and if you forgetfully leave it out of your plan and time budget, it’ll sneak up on you.
From identifying the factors you are looking for in the new tool to researching your options, scheduling a demo, negotiating an enterprise price, and training your team to use it and waiting for it to become a habit, you should track all of these time expenses. Mark them down in your budget and keep the following sections in mind.
Who Will Use the Product?
Start with an organization chart of the people that will actually use the product on a daily basis. While there might be higher-ups that have a stake in the effectiveness of the tool, it’s the people that will use the product on a daily basis that matter the most. It doesn’t matter if we’re discussing a key account management relationship tool or we’re talking an email client because the sentiment is the same: the workers that use the tool carry the most say in the decision.
You should conduct a poll among the team that will use the product to determine not only what they want to get out of it, but their experience level with similar tools or experience with your select choices. This can help you get a more accurate estimation of the time it will take for them to pick up the habit of using the tool and benefit from it in their daily workflow.
Make sure you aren’t leaving anyone out of the poll as that could affect the averages that you calculate based on estimated time. While you’ll want to keep cost in mind, you should come up with an estimation of average time to adopt for these tools and rank your choices based on that factor.
Who Will Benefit from the Product?
Secondly, besides who will actually use the product, you want to consider who will benefit from it. In a key account management sense where your relationships with clients are paramount, you’ll want to add your clients into the mix if they are ever going to see the product or the results of it. Hopefully, the product greatly benefits them, either directly through their use or indirectly through the results your team can create with them.
List all of the important key players that will benefit from the project once it’s implemented. Understanding the people that are rooting for the project to be a success and the potential return on the investment can help to sway you towards a product that you might otherwise had not considered. For example, if you were to lean towards a product that might take less time to implement on your side but the results wouldn’t be as great, you might want to reconsider when you think of time as an investment. You also don’t want to choose a product that your team will never understand because it has so many features it makes their heads spin.
The key is to find a balance between effort, time, and money, which can be tricky. You need to invest your time in researching and trying a few different tools that work for your team.
Make Time to Review
Once you have a solid list of the tools you think will work and understand the budgeted time for each of them, you can start reviewing them. Typically, the best developers will offer you a personal demo of the product where a rep for them will answer any questions and show you the unique features that mostly apply to your organization and goals. If you feel like you are left to figure out a platform on your own, you are looking at the wrong tool.
The review period of its own can take a significant amount of time so you want to make sure you’re using your budgeted time wisely and avoid wasting your own energy demoing products that won’t work. Skip the tedious work and create a list of the most important features that will save you and your team the most time all while delivering better results for your customers. This will help you see past all of the flashy colors and slick UIs and instead focus your eyes on the price, so not only your time but the monetary investment isn’t wasted.
Once you have a new tool selected and you’ve signed up for the subscription, it’s time to implement it, use it for a week or two, and determine whether your team thinks you made the right choice.
Gather Feedback After Implementation
While you might use the new software from time to time, it’s the rest of your team that will use it in their daily workflows, so you need to make sure that it’s working for them. Too often, managers get married to their selected software and will do anything to make sure that it works, even if it means that they aren’t looking at the bigger picture with unbiased eyes. It’s understandable, but you need to ensure that you are neutral and willing to listen to feedback from the team.
The most significant part of this is the time that it takes for your team to start using it and your clients to start seeing results. You want the implementation process to go as smooth as possible and if you spot any red flags, don’t be afraid to make changes. Continuous optimization is key to running a smooth account management department, and minimal downtime is the goal. After a week of using the new tools, hold a meeting, and gather feedback from the rest of the team to understand their thoughts on using the tool. Ask if their clients have made any notice of the new tool even if they have no idea you’ve switched to a new system (an effective tool will have ripple effects throughout the relationship, so if it is effective, clients will notice).
Continue to look for new ways to improve your processes and optimize your team’s workflow. In a competitive sphere like yours, having the right tool could be the difference between keeping a client and losing them to a competitor and picking a good one that saves your organization time, effort, and money can be the difference-maker towards delivering better results for your clients.
How Kapta Can Help
As an all-in-one enterprise key account management platform, Kapta allows you to do more for your organization’s biggest clients. By getting your account managers out of the spreadsheets and onto the phone, you can focus more on the relationship that you develop with your top 20% of clients rather than pushing digits around. Kapta features a selection of innovative account management tools like Voice of Customer (VOC) Insights, account health score, and account plan templates so you can generate more revenue, build relationships, and achieve your customer’s goals almost automatically. See where you stand with its visualization tools and streamline your workflow with Kapta.
Schedule a free demo of Kapta and see for yourself here.