There’s been a lot of talk lately about getting to the next level of customer success by helping customers meet their desired outcomes. This trend is so strong that The MIT Sloan Management Review found many examples of companies basing their pay structures on usage, outcomes, or a combination thereof. And they said companies are competing on customer outcomes more consistently with value delivered being the ultimate result.
With 70.1% of total revenue coming from sales to existing customers, delivering value is the competitive advantage to strive for. CSO Insights also found the account planning process helped KAMs solve customer business problems, driving customer loyalty, retention, and revenue. And the most successful organizations were customer-centric, dynamically aligned with their customers, and their reps had become trusted advisors to their accounts. This resulted in sales win rates of 59.9% for the top organizations surveyed.
Make sure the customer is achieving their goals.
To become a trusted advisor to your key accounts, it’s important to confirm they are realizing their goals. To do so, you need to know how they define success in relation to their goals. As a key account manager, helping your customers set and track their goals is an essential element of what you do. It is critical that you make your customers’ goals a priority to ensure customer satisfaction and retention. This makes hitting client objectives a win-win for your accounts and your organization.
But how do you know what your customers’ goals are?
Identifying your customers’ goals isn’t complicated. All you need to do is ask. And a Voice of Customer (VOC) interview simplifies this process. It enables you to ask questions concerning things like:
- Their experience with your product or service and how it is helping with previously set goals (if you know them).
- Any changes within their organization or industry and how these have impacted their goals or priorities.
- Situations that might alter their need for your product or service.
- Any new internal initiatives your client is working on or is getting ready to implement.
This interview allows you to gain deeper insights about what’s happening in your key accounts and stay current with them. This valuable information makes it easier for you to go beyond basic support to truly partner with your clients.
Do a Voice of Customer interview with 3 – 5 people
A VOC interview is the perfect way to gather information from multiple key stakeholders within your client’s organization. You don’t want to blast out a survey to every contact when conducting a VOC. It would be totally irrelevant to many of them. This is when you need to engage people who influence product retention and expansion. Enlist your day-to-day contact or customer champion for help identifying these people. They know their organization and who the power users are as well as how to reach them. This simplifies getting the depth and breadth of feedback you are seeking. The result is more informative, higher quality responses.
Determine their biggest initiatives
You don’t want a long list of goals. So, create a list of goals identified by your client and select the top three goals. These need to be actionable with metrics attached. This makes it easy to confirm achievement of these goals. They also need to be long-term since goals are typically set annually. Avoid any that may be accomplished in less than six months. And, although these goals should be big, they need to be realistically achievable, especially if the client is a relatively new one.
Once you have a short list of goals, it’s time to create an action plan for each goal. This plan details all the steps you and your client need to work through to meet or exceed these goals in the designated timeframe. Break each goal into small milestones or objectives. Next, identify shorter range actions that are attainable in a couple of weeks and day-to-day tasks to complete as well. When each small task is completed, no matter how small, it has a cumulative impact on reaching shorter-range objectives and then the big goals.
Don’t do this alone
Now that you’ve broken down each goal into smaller objectives, actions, and day-to-day tasks, you need to share your plan. You can’t hit these goals all by yourself! You’ve got to get buy-in from your internal team and from your customer. Yes, that’s right—share your plan with your customer. They have steps to take toward attaining their goals as well. And once you’re all on the same page, Kapta’s powerful collaboration tools make it easy for your internal team to communicate and stay up to date so nobody drops the ball. This helps everybody stay focused on the end goal as they move from milestone to milestone along the way.
Track results and follow up regularly
As you work toward accomplishing your customers’ goals, keep an eye on the metrics your customer uses to measure success. And follow up with your client and internal team frequently. This enables you to make plan adjustments as needed when setbacks or other changes are encountered so you stay on pace to meet or exceed your shared goals. Changes may also be needed if a particular approach isn’t as effective for a particular client or if the customer is experiencing issues.
Communication is key to successfully reaching the goal line!
Tracking customer goals are one of the most overlooked aspects of account management and it can be the difference between proving value and watching a customer churn. Interested in learning more about account management strategy? Try out our new online course for account managers. CEO of Kapta, Alex Raymond, will walk you through critical communication and collaboration tools, client reports, and VOC insights so that you can elevate yourself in the mind of your customer and manager.