It’s no secret that if your organization is new to key account management, not everyone is going to be on board with the radical shift from sales to relationships. At Kapta, we take for granted the fact that we are built around the core components of key account management and everyone in the company from the bottom to the top understands and shares the same vision and purpose.
So, even if you are seeing moderate success with your key account management program, you need to get the entire organization on board, and this requires Purpose and Vision messaging. Communicating the values and goals of your key account management program is easier said than done and just as you have to convince your customers that your services are the best to go with, you must convince everyone in the organization that your key account management program will lead you all to success.
Today, we’ll take a look at some tips and tricks you can keep in mind as you begin thinking of how you’ll communicate the purpose and vision of your key account management program.
Why It Matters
While everyone in the account management department and sales departments of the company should have a base understanding of your key account management program, other areas of the business like customer support, fulfillment, and others likely don’t, and it can affect the way that they do their jobs as well. If your organization isn’t communicating down the chain of command and across all departments what the focus of key account management even is, it can muddy the waters and create ambiguity.
It’s this ambiguity that can hurt overall efficiency, productivity, and in the end, customer satisfaction, which is something that you do not want to hurt at all costs. If everyone in the organization isn’t on the same page with the same goal that the key account manager has established, then it’s much more difficult to help clients get to said goal in the end with opposing forces pulling them in different directions. For this reason, it’s important that you clearly and accurately provide the rest of the company with information about the purpose and vision of your key account management program.
The Difference Between Purpose and Vision
So, what are the main differences between Purpose and Vision? Both of the terms sound relatively similar, and you might even be tempted to use them interchangeably, but in key account management where everything has a specific and precise meaning, it’s crucial that you and your team can differentiate between the two.
Just as you often heard to “do things with a purpose” having purpose in your key account management team means that the customer’s end goal guides every decision. If you find yourself doing something that doesn’t affect the customer’s goals, needs, and wants, then it’s time to stop doing it. Having a purpose gives you a light to shoot for, and even during the busiest days, you’ll have a reason behind the seeming chaos of the office.
Vision, on the other hand, is related more towards your goals rather than your clients’. It’s the why in the equation as in why you chose to run a key account management program in the company and why you care so much about the success of your customers. Understanding the purpose is important, but it is just as important that your team knows why you’re doing what you’re doing so, they can get behind your goals and help push the program forward and optimize it, so client successes are inevitable.
You Can’t Focus on Both
Even though both of these are important, it’s challenging to communicate both purpose and vision at the same time. Vision is a much more broad, goal-oriented task as in saying, “this is where I see the program moving forward.” Purpose, on the other hand, is the here and the now. It’s why we’re doing what we’re doing in the present and making sure that what we’re doing is helping our clients.
In many cases, choosing which one, purpose or vision, that you want to communicate comes down to where your key account management plan currently stands. If you’re just getting it off the ground, purpose will be more important. If you have had a key account management program and division of the company in place for some time, then your vision for the future will become much more important.
With the start of any program, especially one as innovative and potentially disruptive as key account management, getting others onboard can be a struggle as they wonder why the company is taking this new approach. Especially if your organization has followed a sales-first operating structure for years, switching over to relationship management and dedicating more time and energy to talking to clients and achieving their goals can feel like a new, disruptive move.
Having a purpose behind this and communicating it through messaging is essential and can help to get everyone else behind the idea. You need to show your team members how it will benefit your clients along with how it will benefit your company in the long run too.
For vision messaging, if your key account management program is up and running and has been in place for some time, then it’s time to start moving the goal post just as you do for your clients’ goals in their account plans. You should clearly explain to your team where you want the program to go and your specific goals attached to your timetable.
Although it is difficult and often not recommended to pursue both messages at the same time, the end goal is that it all comes full circle regardless of your initial route. If you’re just starting the program, you’ll need to explain the purpose, and then, once it has reach cruising altitude, you can start shifting the goals and explaining your vision.
In another instance, your program could be cruising even after you explain the vision, but it can start to sputter, and you might start to wonder why you are doing this in the first place. Recommunicating your purpose and developing a new understanding for it can help get the program either back on track, or give it the push that your organization needs to make it through the final stretch of renewal season.
So, now that we’ve covered the reason that communicating purpose and vision is important within your organization along with a few scenarios where you can use both messaging strategies, it’s time to start implementing metrics that can keep the messaging on track and ensure that you are hitting your milestones on time.
With metrics, you can add numerical values to your goals and gives you and the entire team something to shoot for. Metrics can be valuable in both the purpose and vision messaging phases with different metrics assigned to each. Also and perhaps most importantly, your metrics will tell your account managers what is most important right now and will help them prioritize different duties to have the most impact on their accounts.
In purpose messaging, for example, your metrics might include % of customer account growth or % of customer revenue growth. These are just two of the many important goals that most key account management teams should have when related to their customers. They want the account to grow as big as possible because that customer has been so successful. You could also add metrics related to customer wins or acquisitions on their end as well.
For vision messaging, your metrics might look a little bit different but still in the same ballpark. This time, you’ll focus on how your team is performing and if you have reached your target goals. This could be # scaled accounts in 6 months, or % sales increase annually. Whatever is most important to your organization and can be derived from customer success, use these metrics as a part of your overarching vision that will guide the entire key account management team to success.
Support the Purpose of the KAM Team
While just throwing these metrics out into the universe and counting on them to just happen is nice, it doesn’t work that way. Along with your messaging, you need a roadmap to help your account managers make the most out of every second they spend talking to their clients so the team can start having a real impact on their accounts.
To do this, we recommend creating a roadmap for your key account management team that demonstrates the appropriate interaction with a customer to support the purpose and vision of the team. In essence, just as you want to know what success looks like to your clients so you can reach their goals, you need to show your entire team what success looks like to you.
Every key account management team’s roadmap will be different with various factors that play into your key account management style, but in essence, a few things typically remain the same.
For one, your account managers should make the most out of every conversation by picking up the phone rather than emailing exclusively. They should come prepared to every call with the latest news on the account and any changes that can help them with their goals.
Every interaction with the client needs to have some sort of impact. If they hang up the phone feeling like they didn’t do anything really useful that could affect the future, there wasn’t much point to the call. Remember, these clients are the biggest and baddest of your entire organization, so it takes time, talent, and skill to get them to continue working with you. Having metrics to back the purpose and vision behind your key account management program will help you stay on track and ahead of schedule in many cases.
Acknowledge and Validate
Adjusting to a new set of metrics is tough in any situation whether you’re a plumber or a key account manager for a multinational corporation. To keep your team of account managers moving forward and sticking to the script, you must stay vigilant and show your appreciation and validation wherever possible especially at the beginning.
Acknowledging wins, big or small, can go a long way to keep your team motivated and pushing. They want to know that there’s a method to the madness of these new metrics and way of measuring the success of clients and the key account management program so take the time to let everyone know what they’re doing right so they can focus on finetuning and improving the process. There are bound to be a few missteps along the way, but unless it’s as devastating as losing an account, having a quick one-on-one can straighten everything out, and your account managers will have feedback to build and improve upon.
The beginning of any new program can always feel bumpy and keeping that program sustainable requires the right message at the right time from leadership. If you can clearly communicate the purpose of your program and establish what you hope to accomplish through customer success, you can motivate the rest of the team to take action and adapt.
Once you have the purpose of the program in place, you can focus on the vision of the program. This is where you see the program moving in 6 months, a year, two years, and further down the line. If you have both of these messages in place, you can keep the key account management program on track and ready to tackle your customers’ goals.
Kapta is less of a KAM company and more of a relationship company. Rather than producing software that keeps you in the weeds and bogs down your daily work, with the Kapta platform, KAMs can spend more time building relationships and working with their clients rather than stuck in spreadsheets. The tool features a variety of innovative features that KAMs in any industry will find practical including the Account Planning tools, relationship health score, and contact management. If you want to see how Kapta can change your KAM program, schedule your free demo here.