You may have your own personal resolutions set for the coming year, but have you thought about setting your own professional New Year’s resolutions? Strategic account managers (SAMs) work in a field that requires constant change, adaptation, and improvement. Instead of adapting as you go along, set yourself some SAM New Year’s resolutions to give yourself solid goals for the year.
New Year’s Resolutions for Strategic Account Managers
Get into 2019 with the right ambitions ahead of you. As you’re closing the year and accomplishing your last New Year’s resolutions, or looking back at your progress in general, it’s time to think about what you’re going to do next.
We at Kapta have always worked closely with SAMs. From our own research and experience, here are a few suggestions on New Year’s resolutions that will help you build a better team this coming year:
In January, many businesses become lackadaisical. The momentum of November and December doesn’t always carry forward into the new year. For the first few weeks of January, and sometimes into February, many companies struggle to get going. You can buck the trend this coming year and start strong from Q1.
Let your holiday from December refresh you, then forget about it and move on to start your new SAM projects for 2019. Q1 is only as long as every other quarter throughout the year. If you waste time in the beginning, you’re losing valuable time to work towards your new goals. If you have yet to form new goals for the year, do that in the first week of returning back to work so you can start putting everything into motion by week two. You’ve finished strong in 2018, so start strong in 2019.
Walk the Talk
Take this year to build up your beneficial SAM habits. Make the decision to be better disciplined and to work towards establishing great SAM habits. Reading is the first step to this resolution. Understand what it takes to be the best in your field, then apply the actionable points.
You can experience the benefits with your team and your customers if you’re willing to do what you need to and walk the talk. It’s not enough to know what a great strategic account manager is or does. You have to set aside time and grow yourself in your good habits.
As a SAM, you need to be one step ahead of whatever’s going on at all times. It’s a tough part of the job, but if you can manage to be proactive, you’ll have better results with your customers than if you were to be reactive every time.
Being proactive as a SAM means anticipating the needs of your strategic customers before they come and tell you their needs. To be proactive, you have to work on being forward-thinking and understanding the threats and opportunities ahead so you can prepare well for them. Whatever you can foresee affecting your company and your customers, you need to be aware of it at all times so you can proactively respond in the best way possible, rather than being forced into a last-minute decision on something important.
Be More Strategic
If you’ve had the problem of acting spontaneously with your accounts or failing to follow a set course with them, 2019 is the year to turn that around. Start thinking about strategies for each account and what you can implement to make the relationship more effective. Take your time to come up with plans and strategies for every individual account separately in order to get a unique action plan for each one.
If strategic thinking isn’t your strong point, bring in a consultant or find someone within your team who can assist you in thinking more strategically about your key account customers. Strategic thinking and actions will make it easier for you to see your progress towards goals and to plan for your cooperative success, rather than just waiting to see if something good will come out of it.
Your customers and your team need to hear from you a lot. As the Strategic Account Manager, it’s your job to be the oil that keeps every part of the machine working together harmoniously. You can’t do that unless you’re willing to communicate well on every side.
Communication is not always comfortable. Learning to communicate more effectively and more frequently can be stretching. That’s why this is a good New Year’s resolution for many SAMs. It’s an area where there’s almost always room for improvement, and the improvement that’s made will have visible benefits both internally and externally.
In any B2B environment, following up on something your customer has said, requested, or even mentioned in passing can open a lot of doors for you. If you’ve done something for your customers, follow up later on to make sure it’s still working out well for them. If they’ve mentioned any issues or anything they’re not 100% happy with, follow up to find out if it’s still a problem and what you can do to make it better for them.
Following up shows a few things. It demonstrates your commitment to your customers by showing that you’re paying attention to what they need and their wellbeing in the partnership. It also gives the impression that you’re aware of all the moving pieces around your partners, which will help to instill confidence in your work.
The result of following up can be finding opportunities that wouldn’t have been available otherwise. Sometimes just checking back in with a customer puts you in the forefront of their mind. If your timing is right, that could mean extra business for you and a stronger relationship between you and your customer.
Coach Your Team
As the SAM, you’re responsible for the success of your team. Part of your job is to make sure you’re keeping your team up to date on the current best practices, trained in the latest strategies, and prepared for the ever-changing future. If you don’t already have an ongoing coaching and training plan for your team, this year should mark the start of it.
Coaching will help your team know exactly what they should be doing and how they should be doing it in order to maximize their effectiveness. You absolutely want a competent team that can take initiative and work on their own to make things happen. The way you can get to that is by coaching your team and providing an abundance of opportunities for them to learn and improve themselves throughout the year. As they grow and learn, your team’s overall competency will grow with them.
Improve Yourself [listen to feedback]
As 2019 starts, it’s a good idea to consider how you can personally improve yourself in the coming year. Ask your team, your mentors, and anyone you trust within your organization to tell you about your performance. Ask about what they see as your areas of weakness and your strengths. Compare notes from different people find common trends in what people observe of you at work. It’s also a good idea to approach your strategic partners and ask what you could do better for them.
Listening to feedback about your own professional performance as well as feedback from your customers can give you a new perspective to consider how you can improve yourself. You might learn about habits you didn’t know you had or issues that other people notice which could be affecting your work. You’ll also learn about your strengths, which you can then focus on to compensate for the weaknesses in your team, while allowing your team to cover your own shortfalls.
Are You Ready?
Whether you want it to come or not, a new year is upon us. Make the best of the fresh year ahead of you and use your time to accomplish even more than you did this year! Set achievable goals for yourself that you’re already motivated to do, and you’ll find that New Year’s resolutions aren’t so bad after all.