It’s the first day of Q2, so it’s a good time to look back at Q1 and see what happened with your key accounts. To give yourself a Key Account Management (KAM) checkup, ask a few questions about what happened with your company in Q1.
You had goals that you set at the beginning of last year. By the end of March, did you manage to reach those goals? How did you do on a monthly or quarterly basis? Were there any quarters that outperformed or underperformed compared to expectations?
Beyond the over-arching goals, how did your team perform on quotas? Did you attain the quotas you had set for yourself? On a quarterly or monthly basis, did you keep up with the quotas?
Evaluating Your Efforts
Based on your responses to the questions above, you’ll have a few different ways to proceed. You need to ask yourself why you succeeded, or why you didn’t manage to reach goals or attain quotas.
Why You Succeeded
Congratulations on reaching your goals or quotas! Now, prepare yourself to do better. Set yourself up for success. Don’t try to increase your expectations to unattainable highs, but set a reasonable new goal to hit in 2019. Look at what you did that led to your good performance last year and try to emulate it again or enhance it to do even more.
Make sure you didn’t set the bar too low for you and your team. If you outperformed your goals or quotas by a substantial amount, you should reconsider whatever made you set those particular goals. Don’t underestimate a strong team. If they can blow your goals out of the water in one year, make sure you’re giving them a suitable challenge to live up to next year.
Why Didn’t You Succeed?
If you’re on the opposite end of the equation and you didn’t manage to reach your goals or quotas for the year, why not? What got in your way that kept you from meeting your expectations? Was it a problem with the goal you set or did you run into trouble doing all the necessary steps to make sure you succeeded in Q1?
Break down your performance to monthly and quarterly snapshots. Where did the problems occur? Were they chronic failures throughout the year, or was there a specific area that stood out as your worst performing time that dragged the rest of the year down? Knowing where you went wrong is an important part of turning it around next year.
Meeting Your Goals
Make sure you’re putting yourself on the right path to get to where you want to be at the end of the year. Here are a few things to focus on that will help you get better results this quarter than you did last quarter:
Be strategic and proactive
Wherever possible, improve your strategic actions and proactivity. Think about every possible outcome, potential challenges ahead, and opportunities that exist in your industry or that of your customers. Look ahead to create a detailed plan that will help you reach your success.
Proactively tackle problems and approach challenges. Don’t put off anything until later. If you can prepare to cross the bridge before you come to it, you’ll be more likely to reach your goals at the end of the year. It’s better to be ready to act than to be surprised by something and to throw together a response in limited time.
Build trusted partnerships
Part of the responsibility of the KAM department is advancing relationships with the most strategic customer accounts. If you don’t have these accounts in your sites already, determine them now and get ready to step up your game.
You want to work towards being a strategic partner whenever possible. Stronger relationships with key account customers can only lead to better and more consistent results. Keep your team focused on providing the highest level of value possible to get you into your customers’ inner circles.
Work your KAM process [Put in the effort, you will see results]
KAM is a process. You can’t get immediate results. There is no instant gratification. Make sure you have a fantastic process, then follow that process until it brings you closer to success. Refine your process as needed, but learn to trust that your hard work is going to pay off.
KAM always requires effort. It will likely feel disproportionate to the benefits at first because you won’t be able to see the success until later. Put in the work now and trust that if you’ve got a good process, you’ll get good results. You will see the fruit of your efforts, but only if you keep at it and don’t give up!
Knowing this, what else can you do to make Q2 more successful than Q1? Even if you had a great year, there’s always room for improvement.
Let’s take a look at the data and insights available from Q1 to see what mattered most in B2B sales and how it may affect your Q2 performance.
CSO Insights Sales Performance Survey Highlights
Miller Heiman Group released the 2018-2019 CSO Insights report on sales performance. It sums up changing market conditions and talks about the state of sales in the current market, including what successful companies did better than unsuccessful companies. We have a short summary here.
Three key characteristics were mentioned in connection to more successful selling. These are all three directly related to key account management:
- Customer-centric culture
- Dynamic alignment with customer’s path
- Buyer confidence in the seller’s ability to give insight and perspective
Average Win Rates
Data suggests that out of forecasted opportunities, only an average of 47.3% became wins. However, this is the average of all companies participating in the survey. Within this statistic, there is a large variation between the best and worst performing companies.
Win Rates and Customer Relationships
Win rates varied dramatically based on the relationship a company had with its customers. Those who were at the earliest stages of customer relationship as approved vendors saw an average win rate of 39.5% while trusted partners saw an incredible win rate of 59.9% on average. Trusted partners experienced a sales win rate that was more than 50% higher than approved vendors.
There is a clear difference in win rates between approved vendors and every other higher level of customer relationship. Trusted partners also saw much higher win rates than the recorded average. This demonstrates a strong connection between the strength of customer relationships and success rates for B2B companies.
Win Rates and Account Planning
The same report shows another connection between win rates and the strength of account planning in each company. Quota attainment and win rates were consistently higher the better the account planning process was.
For those companies that recorded a need for a major redesign in their process, win rates were as low as 43.9% while quota attainment was at 47.4%. On the opposite end, those companies that said their account planning exceeded expectations recorded win rates of 58.8% and quota attainment of 62% on average. This means that stronger account planning led to 33% high win rates and 30% high quota attainment rates.
Win Rates and Confidence in Providing Clients with Insights and Perspectives
Those companies who exceeded their expectations in providing their clients with insights and perspectives experienced an average win rate of 55.2%. Companies who said they needed a major redesign in this area recorded win rates of only 40.2%.
Part of being a strategic partner is sharing data, observations, and information with your customers. If you’re unable to do this confidently, you’re unlikely to be able to grow your relationship past a certain point. This is a value-packed step in your KAM process.
Applying the Data to Your Organization
The data is clear. Companies with strong customer relationships, confidence in providing extra value to their customers, and a great account planning process experience more wins than companies without those qualities. If you want Q2 to be a better quarter than Q1 in terms of wins and quota attainment, refine your KAM process to put this new information into action.
Focus on building stronger relationships with your customers first. Companies who acted as trusted partners experienced a much higher win rate on average than those who did not. This was one of the single largest factors affecting win rates between different companies.
As you work to build relationships, step out and increase the value you’re providing to your customers. This should include building your confidence in giving insights and perspectives to your customers. Add this as a step in your account planning process, which should also be refined until it’s working like a well-oiled machine. Your team should be satisfied that your account planning method will lead to success.
It’s worth the effort to build strategic partnerships with your customers. The data supports this, and now your KAM process needs to reflect it too. Set yourself up for a successful quarter and year ahead by focusing on what actually matters to your bottom line.