So you’ve built your business to the level where you have a few important strategic customers. These clients have started to trust you, and you think there is an opportunity to expand your business with these clients. It sounds like it could be time for you to implement an account management strategy.
After you have identified that the organization needs account management, however, there are some other activities you must consider to make your account management program a success. Find out what your organization needs to consider to develop an effective account management strategy.
Account Management Requires Organizational Change
Implementing an account management strategy is more than just re-organizing your sales team. It is a change in the way you approach your business, and it will require other teams to shift priorities and re-organize as well. If your account team’s relationships rely heavily on support from your supply chain, for instance, your organization needs to ensure business operations are set up to support your strategic accounts.
Get Executive Level Buy-In for the Account
Executive-level buy-in helps to push any initiative forward, and Account Management is no exception. If the customer is critical for your business, it makes sense to have someone on your executive team invested in its success. Getting executives to meet regularly with representatives from the accounts and have active involvement in the account status is going to help you ensure that account management is a success at your organization.
Identify Your Key Accounts
Once you’ve decided to implement account management, you must determine the accounts on which to focus. The criteria will vary by organization and could change over time. It is wise to start with a small number of accounts so that you can test your approach. You can add more accounts to your account management program as you develop your procedures, but you can’t easily take away account managers later.
Train your Account Managers
There is a difference between a sales person and an account manager. Often, the tactics that work well in sales don’t translate to account management. Promoting your best sales people to account managers will not guarantee success; you must instead determine the factors that will enable your account managers to succeed, and train them in these areas.
Measure and Iterate
Perhaps the most important factor for your account management strategy is to measure and iterate. It is unlikely that your first attempt at account management will go perfectly. Therefore, you must set the appropriate metrics, and modify your approach if you are not meeting your goals. It’s also critical that you adjust your team’s metrics to align with your account management goals. If you measure your account managers on one-time sales, but you want your account teams to build a consistent pipeline of monthly orders, your account managers are not incentivized to deliver the right results.
Account management requires changing the way you think about your business and shifting the way you operate. If done correctly, however, it can produce measurable business benefits.