Existing customers are more profitable and easier to sell to than entirely new prospects according to a study by Bain & Company. Increasing customer retention by as little as 5% increases profits by 25-95% while the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% versus 5-20% for a new prospect. Your current customers buy more and buy quicker because they already know, like, and trust you and your product. And, if they become advocates, they will tell others and be a reference for you. Sounds great, doesn’t it! But how can a KAM turn customers into advocates?
Understand your customers
The better you Know your customers, the more strategic and effective you can be for them. Going beyond names and titles, you need to ask them about their personal and professional goals, motivations and expectations. Take time to understand the overall reporting structure in each key account, providing insights around what your day-to-day contacts are juggling in their job as well as the culture of their organization.
Dive deeper by leveraging Voice of Customer (VOC) email surveys combined with individual conversations consisting of customized questions across key account organizations. Then look at internal and external factors that may influence account success through a SWOT analysis.
While getting to know your key customers and when updating your customer knowledge, be sure to ask questions that reveal how you can become a great long-term partner to them. This is important since everybody has their own preferred way of working with business partners. By making a point to ask, you set yourself up to meet their expectations.
Some prefer to initiate contact when they need assistance, where others want partners to maintain consistent contact with them. It’s also important to learn their preferred method of communication as well as what key performance indicators against which they want to measure success. After you ask a question of your key contacts, take the time to listen carefully to their responses, ask follow-up questions, and confirm understanding before advancing to the next question. Then, it’s time to take appropriate action.
Deliver on your promises
Now that you have all this customer knowledge, it’s time to Act by creating an action plan. This is where you set goals, objectives, tactics, and tasks to deliver on the commitments you’ve made to your key accounts. Breaking down each goal into actionable steps enables you and your team to deliver value by actually doing what has been promised. Plus, it makes it easier to stay focused while tracking your progress. This is critical to the overall key account relationship.
Deliver value at every interaction
Make sure that you’re respectful of each contact’s time. Don’t schmooze. Instead, provide value in every interaction by showing them you understand their business and communicating clearly while offering insights, guidance, and new perspectives. This establishes you as a trusted partner delivering buteiness value and increasing customer retention. It also means your clients make you aware of changes and upcoming opportunities first. And they provide you with open, honest feedback quickly and continuously, enabling you to take timely steps to consistently improve customer experience.
Put your customer’s needs ahead of your own
As a Key Account Manager, you must always put your customer’s needs first. Doing so is a win-win where meeting or exceeding the goals and objectives of your key accounts means reaching your own company’s goals as well. Failing to remain focused on your customer’s goals ensures you fall short on both fronts.
Follow up on the value
It’s essential to establish specific goals and success metrics to Measure the success of your action plan by identifying which ones to use as you create each plan. Be sure to establish good baseline data at the beginning as you’re getting to know the customer. Doing so facilitates tracking your progress toward goal attainment. It makes it possible for you to quantify results when communicating internally. And allows you to clearly articulate to your clients the value you have provided. This can make all the difference when it comes to renewals by quantifying account success to stakeholders who think in terms of ROI.
In addition to clearly communicating valuable outcomes, be sure to ask customers if they received the results they were expecting and how you can improve. Always get feedback – this is essential to the future health of your accounts and enables you to keep your finger on their pulse at all times, addressing issues and making adjustments along the way.
Ask for references and advocacy
If they receive quantifiable value from you, ask your client to be a reference or to provide a testimonial. Then share these on social media. There’s no greater form of advertising than customer references, referrals, and testimonials. Make sure you take the time to ask for them once you’ve created this type of deep and trusting customer relationship.
Need help taking your Key Account Management program to this level? Kapta can help. Contact us to schedule a demo today.