Sales follows the Pareto principle: 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients. And every business stands to benefit from identifying and taking care of that 20%.
That is the basic principle of key account management, also known as strategic account management. Key account management (KAM) aims to establish stronger, deeper, and more long-term relationships with key accounts to ensure consistent growth (in all areas) for your company and the client's.
But not all companies are successful in creating and establishing their key account management program. In fact, 48% believe the key account management process in their company lacks effectiveness.
Key account management is effective if you have the correct program and strategies in place. Here are 8 best practices you can implement starting today.
8 Key Account Management Best Practices
1. Identify your key accounts
The first step is identifying your key accounts. Unfortunately, some companies fail at this because they don’t have the correct process for selection.
Most companies choose long-standing clients and/or accounts that are currently generating big revenues as key accounts by default. This is not strategic, not even correct. There needs to be a thoughtful process in choosing key accounts, with sales management leading it. You should be choosing key accounts for maximum revenue and growth.
2. Have dedicated key account managers
Key accounts should have dedicated managers. While also part of the sales team, key account managers have different goals for the team. They will be dealing with high-value clients so they must be driven, strategic, self-motivated, confident and charismatic, customer-centric, and great problem solvers.
Make sure their roles and tasks are crystal clear. They need to maintain long-term relationships with key accounts and maximize sales opportunities with them. They also need to make certain that the team is kept in top shape. As such, sales coaching should also be one of their priorities, with their coaching focused on training their reps on how to build and maintain long-term relationships with their clients.
3. Create cross-functional teams
Great key account managers won’t matter if they don’t have strong teams. Creating cross-functional teams means you have team members with different disciplines, strengths, and capabilities working toward a common goal. Their different kinds and levels of expertise combined makes for a strong team.
Sales and marketing working together is one way to create a cross-functional team. Employing sales enablement within your organization will also help increase sales opportunities. Just make sure you implement the best sales enablement practices.
4. Know your key accounts inside and out
Key account management is all about relationships. And you have to know the person you’re in a relationship with very well for the relationship to thrive and flourish. Know each key account very well: its business, industry, management and decision makers, plans or initiatives, competition, goals, pain points, strengths, weaknesses, and needs.
Knowing your key accounts very well will help you strategize for them for the long-term—which is what key accounts deserve.
5. Be strategic for each key account plan
As mentioned, your strategies should be for the long-term. Your plan should be a viable road map that meets the client’s goals for the next year at least.
Your plans and proposals should show that you are highly invested in the company’s long-term growth and success.
6. Deliver exemplary service
Set up an efficient work system between you and client. Meet with key accounts regularly, get updates and feedback, resolve all and any issues, improve where and when necessary.
You have to deliver exemplary service in account management to keep clients happy.7. Perform regular account reviews
A key account’s needs are not static. They change, and your team should be ready to handle the changes and still deliver exemplary service. Regularly monitor and review each account to stay updated on their needs—whether that’s time, resources, or plans and strategies.
It’s also important that you monitor your performance. Are you delivering on your promises and strategies? Review the relationship as well. One of the criteria for choosing key accounts is making sure that the relationship is beneficial to both parties. Is your company also benefiting from the partnership? Make sure you deliver value, but also receive it.
8. Capitalize on technology
Managing teams is not easy, and technology makes it easier. Technology is known to help boost collaboration and efficiency. A CRM, for example, allows you to set up workflows and make all communications more efficient. It also allows everyone access to data and reports so they can see the developments in each key account.
Key account management is not a walk in the park. But with the right people, tools, and plans, it can help your organization gain success and better revenue and customer satisfaction.
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