As small business owners, we all wish there were more hours in the day. Since I haven’t figured out how to stop time or add more hours, I’ve had to learn to be strategic about where I spend my energy. The Pareto principle (namely the 80/20 rule) states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Not surprisingly, that’s true for account management. Can you pinpoint 20% of your accounts that make up 80% of revenue? Key account management is a systematic approach to nurturing the strategically important customers. This means that instead of spinning your wheels focusing a ton of time and energy on accounts with little return, you can strategically focus on the clients in which you’ll see the greatest results.
Here are 5 steps to get started:
Identify your Key Strategic Accounts – You can’t roll out the red carpet if you don’t know who the VIPs are. Use your sales forecast to predict your top strategic accounts.
Be in the Know – Learn everything there is to know about your Key Strategic Accounts – culture, players, business objectives, strategic initiatives, etc. The better you know them, the easier it is for you to create a tailor-made solution that’s right for them.
Be an Open Book – Relationships are a two-way street. It can’t be solely about them for it to be a true relationship. Keep them in the loop of your organizational changes as well as any business objectives you’re comfortable sharing. Be proactive about the communication. Remember that people like to do business with people they like, and being an open-book generates trust and empathy in your professional relationships.
Be a Strategic Partner – It’s not about selling them something. It’s about helping them solve an anticipated problem. My favorite way to engage a client is finding ways to sell more together by being a strategic partner from the get-go. Build something together.
Get the Organization behind you – Key Strategic Accounts is not a sales shift, it’s an organizational shift. It is about how to fulfill the needs of the customer better, thereby increasing your own ROI at the same time. Think R&D. Think priority fulfillment.
Do you know the makeup of your client base? Can you pinpoint your strategic accounts? How often are you nurturing those relationships? You can’t help your clients if you don’t know what’s going on, and if you’re not helping them then someone else will. They key is to be an indispensable asset to the right clients. Now go and schedule that face to face meeting and see how you can help them achieve their 2017 objectives.