All B2B businesses rely heavily on strong client management for success. In order to keep a steady flow of sales, your company must focus on key accounts and the management strategy that goes into providing quality customer service. While key accounts may vary based on your company’s size and the products offered, it is important to understand the basics before implementing these tactics. High-value clients are crucial to a business’s success. Your team needs to be ready for the commitment that comes along with key account management. Identifying your key accounts is merely the first step in key account management strategies. Your sales department should be aware of these clients and have a plan to ensure lasting relationships. From there, multiple departments collaborate and implement strategic account management practices. If you are looking for operations and workflow tools, please be aware that we offer key account management solutions. At LeadBoxer we know how important key accounts are. We’ll help you identify and keep your company’s most valuable clients. Click here to read about lead and key account management and for a visual overview of our solutions. Keep reading, or use the links below to jump ahead in this guide:
- What Is Key Account Management?
- Formulating a Successful Key Account Management Strategy
- How to Identify Relationship Clients
- Key Account Management and the Demand for Digital Analysis
- Key Account Management Vs. Global Account Management
- Best Practices for Strategic Account Management
- Key Takeaways
What is Key Account Management?Understanding how to plan management strategies for important accounts means you need to identify who these customers are. A key account is simply one of your company’s most valuable clients. A few factors can help you determine which accounts should be considered your most valuable. To start, any client that generates a large percentage of your revenue will be a huge player in your business’s overall success. Key accounts are also those who continuously refer new prospects or help give credibility to your organization through strong reviews and feedback. Start by analyzing a list of your current customers. Value is subjective to your organization, so make sure to tailor this to your company’s mission. Examining the number of recurring sales, lifetime value, level of influence, and shared goals can help differentiate between your key customers Hence, key Account Management (KAM) is the process of creating long-lasting relationships with high-value clients. This means prioritizing the future rather than merely looking at short-term gains. Broader goals like collaboration and strong support efforts are required to successfully nurture these accounts. To implement this management process, your key accounts managers, customer services, and current sales process needs to be evaluated. While long-term relationships with customers are the goal of most B2B companies, key account management in b2b is not always the best use of resources. Your product needs to have the potential for upsells or bundling of services. Resources will need to be put toward these efforts, and your team will need to be able to take on these additional expenses. If short transactional sales that involve little interaction between salespeople and prospects are common, then b2b key account management won’t make a difference for your team.
Formulating a Successful Key Account Management Strategy61% of companies believe “training in strategic account management” can enable them to enjoy greater revenue, profit, and customer satisfaction. By taking the time to understand and teach best practices for account management, your business will be able to enjoy the rewards of these strategies.
Make Personal Connections with High Value ClientsStrategic account management requires in-depth knowledge of your customers and their business operations. Familiarize yourself with their industry, business structure, and financial plans. These insights make it possible for your sales team to customize product pitches and add-ons, providing added value to your priority customers. Becoming acquainted with each account performance will help your team stay proactive. Instead of waiting to hear from these clients, work hard to anticipate their needs. You will need to stay up-to-date on industry trends and changes within the customer’s company. As your services and products evolve, make sure to relay this information to your clients. Chances are, your customers are not spending time doing research on your services once they have made a purchase. By announcing any changes that may benefit their business, you can boost trust in the relationship. Within a few years of implementing a key account management strategy, customer satisfaction can increase by more than 20%, while simultaneously resulting in revenue generation and profit growth of more than 15%. Making personal connections as early as possible with these clients is the core job of strategic account managers which will help companies ensure a successful implementation for maximum return on investment (ROI).
Create Customer-Specific Product Plans and BenefitsLong-term clients want to feel like your services are actively making a difference within their organization and this should be clear in your account plan. Make sure your offers continue to encourage upsells or repeat sales based on the needs of each account. By tailoring your services to meet specific needs, the relationship can be elevated from buyer and seller to business partners. Acknowledge the “whole” rather than parts of your customer’s vision. Key account team looks at the big picture to help support customers. Having a strong understanding of how your services can fit into the daily workflow of a client’s organization helps promote confidence in both parties business relationships. Do not be afraid to collaborate directly with these accounts even though you’re dealing with the top management of an organization. You want to be seen as a valuable partner rather than a third-party vendor. Discuss specific actions with clients as you develop strategies for their account growth, and listen closely to any feedback that is offered.
Strengthen the Leadership Skills of Account ManagersManaging high-value accounts in the account management process requires time and resources, as well as strong leaders to drive the operation. Multiple departments will be involved in this process. Managers will need proper organization and communication skills for smooth account experience. There are continuous moving parts during the implementation of key account management. Coordination and lots of planning will be necessary to execute long-term and short-term goals of your target account. In addition, constant analysis of outcomes is important. The takeaways from each action in the relationship will help when developing future strategies. The ability to quickly analyze and present business cases will prove invaluable during conversations with key stakeholders of your account. Developing clear action plans will help keep your team members on track. Take a step-by-step approach with any goals that are created to grow the account. Follow through on anything offered to your key accounts. That may seem like a no-brainer, but trust is gained each time your organization delivers on a promise.
How to Identify Relationship Clientsthere will still be one-off clients or relationships that never develop past a transactional stage. Since key account management requires the allotment of additional resources to help b2b business grow. It is important to be mindful when assigning this label. Clients always have the potential to grow into a key account, but it is hard to demote an account once it has reached this level. Make sure you don’t overwork your team by promoting key accounts for nonqualified customers. Practice restraint before assigning account managers to every business that has ever purchased your product. Other than evaluating the list of current customers and their status, it is important to identify key business leads that may turn into high-value clients. Nurturing lasting relationships from the beginning stages can help gain customer trust and boost your reputation.
This means being able to understand the difference between singular transactions and potential partnershipsWhile identifying key accounts, revenue can be an important factor, and clients that generate significant sales numbers can easily be short-listed. However, there are other characteristics to take into consideration.
- First, analyze the ratio of revenue to cost of each current customer.
- Determine if there is any potential to expand.
- Evaluate product fit within each existing relationship.
- Recognize opportunities to upsell or create unique offers that can push clients toward high value status.
Key Account Management and the Demand for Digital AnalyticsDigital and artificial intelligence analytics have become a major game-changer within B2B account management practices. As technology continues to advance, businesses have become savvier in their decision-making processes. There is a waning desire for constant human outreach along with a shift toward more digital support. By integrating your tech stack with these key accounts, your team should be able to provide the best experience to high-stakes accounts. Instead of having sales reps reach out for problem-solving, accounts want to see easy ways to access information through automated systems. Develop account-based marketing plans and keep track of their implementation through automated software. Target your key account relationships through personalized messaging across social media, web pages, and email campaigns. Since your team will be familiar with the personality and specific needs of each key account, targeted marketing is even easier to achieve. Using Leadboxer, your team can integrate email platforms for campaigns alongside web tracking and data analytics to successfully reach out to high-value clients. Personalized emails have five to six times higher open rates. By combining account-based marketing with key account management, your company will start to see higher ROI on outreach.
Using technology to handle marketing outreach and data analysis allows your team to reallocate resources to other efforts within the accountWithout having to dedicate manpower to these processes, managers are able to focus on the long-term plan by letting technology drive data collection efforts. While digital analysis is crucial to successful key account management, your team needs to be trained to use it properly. Technology should be seen as a priority rather than an add-on to departments. If employees voice concerns about the implementation of this software, make sure to remind them of best practices and provide training as necessary. Large customer accounts can be difficult to manage. There are often several decision-makers involved, with your services being used across multiple departments. Digital analytics help your account managers uncover opportunities for growth within these large organizations. Up-to-date data sets help keep your teams informed on the latest changes with clients. This allows managers to explore up-selling and cross-selling options and encourages timely outreach.
Key Account Management Vs. Global Account ManagementGlobal account management is the next step for these customers. Evolving to this stage will involve the negotiation of prices at the country level, offering worldwide support, and understanding the global procurement strategy of these clients. The duties of a global account manager include developing customer relationships with worldwide branches and tracking revenue potential. Successful implementation of global account management should strengthen the customer relationship and provide a significant competitive advantage to your business. In contrast to standard key account management, global account management is layered over national sales efforts. This requires strong ties with global customers and their internal stakeholders to ensure quality service. Global account management is a hefty investment and needs to make sense for your business before it is implemented. Accounts with global potential have a few key characteristics to meet before reaching this level.
- Earnings potential is crucial. The cost of management needs to be worth the ROI for global customers. These clients should have high international activity, rather than those with only a few businesses outside of their base country.
- There should be a strategic importance to take on this level of management. These should be significant revenue producing clients, and they should be able to create new connections for your business at the worldwide level.
- An established close relationship is necessary to take on global account management. These clients should stem from key accounts who are ready for this amount of commitment.