While strategic account management (or key account management) may be linked to sales, it goes beyond just short term selling and quotas to build mutually beneficial partnerships between a company and its key customers. In this way, it is a higher-level, longer term process that starts at the organizational level of a company.
By focusing on creating value for both the client and the seller, strategic account management builds trust between the two organizations and helps your company become an indispensable partner. The result is that your company will reduce competitive threats, improve client retention and maximise ROI.
Strategic Account Managers
Once strategic accounts have been identified at an organizational level, the role of a strategic account manager is to act as the point of contact between the strategic accounts’ stakeholders and the company. They are responsible for nurturing, developing and maintaining a long-term partnership with the customer.
Strategic account managers need to understand organisational priorities; have strong planning, problem solving and interpersonal skills; be adept at collaboration, with strong leadership skills; and have the financial and business acumen to successfully navigate negotiations while maintaining profit margins.
Analysis and Planning for Success
Success in strategic account management comes from deep analysis of the customer, market and industry. These insights are used to create effective client specific plans, strategies and timeframes that optimize efficiency and effectiveness. Additionally, a consultative approach must be taken in interactions with account stakeholders to uncover account needs and goals and formulate a mutually beneficial business case.
Creating Long-Term Value for Accounts
While a purely sales role might see a rep focused on winning specific opportunities with a company, in strategic account management the focus is on creating longer-term value for the key account. You need to see how you can make your company invaluable to the customer and this will inevitably involve a large degree of organizational investment. This means that, at an organizational level, the company must plan how to apply company resources and align operations/organizational structure with the account’s direction and needs.
If you want to maximise your revenue potential by taking a more strategic approach to account and territory management, check out the resources on the CPSA learning up, including our strategic account management course.