It’s been about a month since KAMCon 2019, and we’re still feeling energized and inspired. We’re grateful to the speakers and attendees who brought the whole thing to life, and we’re already looking forward to next year.
If you couldn’t make it, Warwick Brown wrote an excellent article filled with key takeaways from this year’s stellar presenters. In fact, he did such a great job, we won’t repeat him here—instead, we’d like to share key takeaways from this year’s equally stellar attendees.
In the month since the event, we’ve had time to sit down and process feedback from everyone who came. We were honored to hear that people were extremely satisfied with the event, and we were fascinated to hear more about what they took away from it. Below are some of our favorite quotes from attendees, as well as some thoughts of our own.
“My largest takeaway [from KAMCon] was a renewal of commitment to my customer. I’ve become so entrenched in the day-to-day operations of our business that my focus on customer advocacy has taken a back seat. This conference was a much needed reminder of my priorities.”
This quote really hit home for us. After all, we run a business, too. We understand how demanding it can be to operate your organization every day—and we know it can be easy to lose sight of why you’re doing it.
Here’s the thing about putting customers first. It’s not just that it’s the right thing to do. It’s not just that it builds loyalty and growth. It also makes operations easier. A customer-centric model helps clarify and streamline decision making; for example, if you’re wrestling with a complex strategy issue, and you remember to put your customer first, often you’ll find the answer staring you in the face.
Putting customers first also unites the team in a compelling and ultimately efficient way. When everyone knows why they do what they do, and who comes first, it’s easy for team members to make quick decisions.
We all get bogged down in our daily to-do list. But do whatever it takes to keep the customer present in everyone’s minds: A banner on the wall, a weekly pep talk, an internal e-blast, quarterly customer appreciation events, or some other idea (we’d love to hear yours). At the end of the day, everyone in your organization, right up to the CEO, works for your customers.
“There is no cookie-cutter answer. Every customer is different and the tools we use have to allow for that uniqueness. But there are best practices, and we learn them through collaboration.”
First things first: There are no cookie-cutter answers. This is true everywhere in life, but especially in Key Account Management. Putting customers first requires creativity and agility. You can’t just offer the same service, product, or combo package to everyone you meet and expect it to work. You have to be able to fine-tune your offering to help your customers reach their goals. Sometimes, that means training your team around a new skill set. Or it may mean making a new hire. You might need to partner with a group outside your organization to make a project successful. To the extent it’s possible, you may need to adjust your product slightly. All of these things take investment on your part, but remember: The long-term relationship is worth it.
Now let’s look at the bright side: There aren’t cookie cutter answers, but there are best practices, and we can learn them through collaboration. At Kapta, our whole goal is to help organizations succeed at Key Account Management by teaching them best practices and helping them standardize and accelerate their approach with our tech platform. It’s why we host KAMCon every year—we genuinely love to see people learning through collaboration.
“An Account Manager must add value to a client during every interaction.”
Even though they may not realize it, your client always has a voice in the back of their head ready to say: “I’m paying this person. Am I paying too much? Could someone else do this job better?”
We’re not trying to scare you. We’re just underscoring the importance of adding value. And that doesn’t mean talking about yourself, though that’s a mistake a lot of people make. It means listening to your clients, understanding their needs and expectations, and making their outcomes better (and their lives easier) every step of the way.
Of course, that’s a pretty high-level principle, so let’s look at one specific example, in the form of a Key Account Management rule we love: Never point out a problem without offering at least one solution. We love this rule because it captures 2 major ways Key Account Managers add value: They make outcomes better, and make their clients’ lives easier.
Making outcomes better. If you see a problem, you should absolutely say something. It’s your job to put your customer’s success first, and that means raising the flag when you see them doing something that might not ultimately be best for them. Anyone can make a client happy for the short term by agreeing with everything they say, but smart clients want people who push them to make even better decisions.
Make their lives easier. You can’t just point out a problem and walk away. (That’s like saying, “You missed a spot” to a friend who’s painting their house while you lounge on the couch with an ice cream sandwich.) Before you raise the flag, gather your team and come up with at least one (if not 2-3) potential strategic solutions. That way, by the time they realize there’s an issue, you’ve already helped them solve it.
“There is lots to learn.”
After all our years as Account Managers, we’re still learning: From our clients, our peers, and our team. A learning mindset is essential to success in Key Account Management, whether it’s understanding new technologies, responding quickly and effectively to feedback, or simply understanding the people you work with better.
One important thing we learned from attendee feedback after this year’s KAMCon is that attendees are excited to share their own knowledge, and learn from each other. We hear you, and we’ll be adding even more networking events and small group/breakout sessions next year to make sure attendees have just as much chance to learn from each other as they do to learn from the speakers.
Learning is at the heart of every KAMCon, from our expert panelists and presenters to our attendees and the unique experience they bring. Subscribe to our newsletter to get early bird alerts for next year’s KAMCon.
Thank you again to everyone who made KAMCon 2019 a success. See you next year!