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Gartner describes key account management as the process of managing and planning a mutually beneficial partnership between an organization and its most important customers. “Key accounts are significant to an organization’s sustainable, long-term growth and require a substantial investment of both time and resources.” And key accounts need a manager.
What Is a Key Account Manager?
When a business is made up of its clients, the key account manager holds the key. The key is the operative word here. Yes, the key account manager is the person holding the keys to the largest accounts that contribute the most revenue to an organization.
Adding to this, key account managers require a range of professional skills, from closing sales and nurturing relationships to strategic planning and cross-functional leadership. While this role requires excellent skill, we’re all about what makes an actual great key account manager.
What Does it Take to Be a Great Key Account Manager?
Online resources indicate that “Key account management is the process of building long-term relationships with your company’s most valuable accounts. These accounts make up the majority of the business’ income. A key account manager (KAM) typically provides dedicated resources, unique offers, and periodic meetings to turn buyers into business partners.”
Thus, a key account manager must always consider the customer first, boast a long-term mindset and coordinate internal resources to satisfy customer needs.
Always consider the customer first
A great key account manager will boast a deep understanding and awareness of the customer’s situation, challenges and domain, putting them first when crafting solutions. Considering the client first means the key account manager contributes to customer value, devoting their energy and time to meeting these key clients’ needs.
Possess a long-term mindset
In thinking long-term, a great key account manager will perform in a way to retain top customers for the long term. With longevity in mind for the business, the key account manager will continue to nurture critical relationships and sustain them through advising clients and working with them on mutually beneficial opportunities.
Coordinate internal resources to satisfy customer needs
The best key account manager effectively allocates and seamlessly organizes internal resources to achieve optimal business outcomes. By optimal business, we mean, as online resources state, “A balanced portfolio of identified accounts whose business contributes or could contribute significantly or critically to the achievement of corporate objectives, present and future.”
What Are the Advantages of Having a Key Account Manager?
When online stats reveal that existing customers are 70% more likely to purchase from your business when you have a key account manager, it’s time to bring one on board. And a great one at that. This is one of the many advantages of having a key account manager—a skilled professional who will see 80% of your organization’s revenue coming from only 20% of your existing customer base. Additional advantages of having a key account manager include, among many benefits:
Increase revenue and retention
One of the top benefits of hiring a key account manager is increased revenue and client retention. Retention is possible through trust-building and KAM strategies that see buyers considering sellers as skilled partners. They see sellers as competent partners and not vendors. Increased relationship building and retention mean increased organizational revenue.
Increase customer satisfaction
For many reasons, key account managers help an organization increase customer satisfaction. One of the ways they effectively do this is by, according to sources, “By relaying bad news to a customer immediately, a key account manager gives the customer as much time as possible to address the situation. Ideally, the manager should be prepared with possible alternative solutions to offer the customer.”
Increase credibility and trust
With long-term relationships built and individual customer attention, key account managers really help build and improve trust from top customers and significantly increase the organization’s credibility. Key account managers further allow top customers to feel confident in the business and stay with the organization instead of hopping to organizations. Through continual engagement, feelings of loyalty emerge, and long-term relationships form.
Increase customer advocacy
With every long-term client retained and relationship strengthened comes customer advocacy. Key account managers help customers advocate for the organization in the long term. Customer advocacy is also experienced when key account managers become trusted advisors for their customers.
Key Account Management Best Practices
The maximum potential for key account management and the organization that hires this individual is reached when best practices are at play. Becoming the bridge between the client and a company requires proactivity, reliability, conducting strategic solutions and thorough performance analysis.
KAM is a role for proactivity. Online sources agree with this: “What separates key account managers from other salespeople is their proactive approach to their accounts. They’re always looking for new ways to provide their clients with value, and they don’t wait for a problem to arise and react to it. Instead, they anticipate their client’s next problem and have a solution locked and loaded.” Key account managers need to make schedules, hold themselves accountable, pick up the phone, think ahead and take action before it’s actually necessary.
When top clients of the organization depend on reliable service, key account managers have to boast reliability at all times. Clients need to feel confident that their needs are met at all times and that the key account manager is there to assist, guide, and positively respond should business opportunities change.
Conduct regular performance analysis
Key account managers must follow the best practice of regular performance analysis. Checking the achievements of key account metrics requires a thorough analysis of customer lifetime value, referenceable clients, customer satisfaction, customer outcomes, customer interaction, organic growth, client acquisition rates and employee satisfaction.
Present strategic solutions
Strategic solutions and customizing products for each customer’s unique need are necessary for individuals fulfilling this role. Strategic solutions come from a personal and business-to-business bond with customers that move beyond their product knowledge. Key account management demands a level of discovery, research, and above all, empathy with the customer, which places it at a different level from conventional sales. Strategic solutions put value-based selling on steroids, where solutions are configured from a deep understanding of a customer’s pain points and plans and the actions that contribute to these gains.
As discussed, key account managers work with a company’s biggest and most important customers to build long-term, strategic partnerships. This role, and key role management as a whole, requires a range of skills from closing sales and nurturing relationships to strategic planning and cross-functional leadership. This role also requires the support of salespeople and a program structure that serves to grow these strategic accounts and key account sales strategy.
If you’d like to find competent, passionate, experienced and key account managers with supportive structures, reach out to Wingmate. We provide companies with dedicated, empathic, skilled key account managers that are expertly trained to grow your business. All of our key account managers work out of our headquarters in Toronto, Canada, and provide services as mentioned above.
The work of a key role manager is optimized by an organization’s process, regardless of how it is done. This can lead to substantial improvements in revenue, profitability, organizational efficiency, synergy and reaching maximum potential.
In the age of data, equipping your team members and key account managers with the right technology is frequently the most pragmatic way of supercharging your key accounts management process.
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