Being the best Account Manager doesn’t usually mean that you have the best program, the most advanced technology, or the biggest team. In most cases, customers are looking for the supplier that will give them the most value for their money. In stead of trying to compete on price or constantly trying to make your products and services one step above the competitor’s (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), focus first on how much value you’re providing the customer and how you could provide more.
It’s all about customer value! If you’re not providing as much value as your competition is offering, you need to increase your value or risk losing the customer completely. Don’t get into a race to the bottom, but focus on staying on top by doing what you reasonably can to add as much value as possible to your customers. Here are a few ways you can do it without going too far past your budget or capabilities:
Giving Insights to Customers
As a Key Account Manager, you should be working hard to find a way for customers to use your products or services for their best benefit. Sharing insights you discover during your research will help your customers to get the most out of the partnership.
Giving insights is not the same as recommending they make a certain decision, nor does it mean butting into situations you’re not involved in. An insight is an observation you’ve made that may be helpful for them to know so they can choose to do whatever is in their best interest.
Sharing Your Best Practice Advice
You have a lot of experience in account management and other areas that could be helpful to your customers. As you do your research and continue keeping up to date on current best practices, you can also give a heads up to your customers about what you’re learning and doing. Your customers will appreciate another perspective and ideas about how they can improve their own results.
This works out well if you’re in a position of trust with your customers already. If you haven’t gained any trust or respect from them so far, it will be difficult to get the chance to share best practices at all. You need to gain trust before they’ll be interested in your advice about what steps to take to move forward.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive
It’s better to have a plan in place before difficulties come instead of waiting until something is wrong before you figure out how you would react. Present proactive solutions to take care of issues your customers may have before they become serious. Help your customers to see what’s coming and to set themselves up for success in all scenarios.
Showing that you’re aware of potential incoming challenges and prepared to handle them will put you in a good position with your customers. It’s very valuable to customers to not just know what’s coming, but also have options about how to handle it. Instead of just letting them know what their challenges are or the incoming obstacles they should be aware of, you need to also emphasize that you have ideas about how to take on those issues.
The reality is that your customers are very likely to understand their challenges and potential obstacles. They are likely to have a good handle on what they’re dealing with and what they could be facing in the future. Telling them what to look out for is not going to make much of an impact on your customers as suggesting ways they can work now to eliminate future threats early on. Better yet, share what you’re already doing to keep your customers on top of incoming challenges.
Constantly Learn About Your Customers
You will never know your customers as well as they know themselves, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying! Always try to learn as much about your customers as possible. The more you know, the easier it’ll be to make decisions and take actions that will benefit your customers in the long run.
If you’ve got an effective KAM strategy going on already, you probably have a great framework to consistently learn more about your customers. Make sure you’re always asking questions to your customers to find out their take on events, to learn more about specifics from them directly, and to get the right facts directly from the source. Outside research won’t tell you as much as the right questions.
Not all questions are equal. When you’re asking questions, you don’t just want to ask something simple and leave it at that. Instead, ask follow-up questions to make sure you’ve gotten the full picture. Be specific when you’re asking questions, but do not use leading questions. Learn how to ask questions that will give you the most useful information while helping your customers to feel like you value what they have to say.
Assist with Internal Connections
In business, who you know can be just as important as what you know. If you can help your customers make important industry connections inside your own company and from other companies they may need to connect with, you’ll be seen as a valuable partner. As the mutual acquaintance, you can not only widen your own network, but you’ll also become a more strategic part of your customers’ networks.
Being the one to introduce your customers to a useful internal connection increases your influence and builds up your reputation as a deal maker. As you help your customers to expand their network, you’ll be viewed more favorably because of the long-term value you’ve provided and are still able to provide again in the future.
Value provided to your customers is the best measure of how well you’re doing as a KAM. If you’re already doing these things, great! If not, see how you may be able to implement some of these ideas into your own organization to increase your value as a partner and supplier. Kapta can help you keep track of your progress so you can keep advancing without losing track of what’s most important.