Key Accounts are a B2B company’s most strategic, valuable and long term clients. Many organizations find that penetrating these complex accounts in a strategic, successful way can be even more difficult than getting the first piece of business.
One of the major factors keeping B2B key account teams from achieving their goals is that the core technologies and tools they use were not designed for the unique world of key accounts. However, with the right people, strategic insights and enabling tools, their growth potential can be virtually unlimited over the medium to long term.
It’s important to take some time to assess the current state of your key account management (KAM) program to determine whether it is built to enable strategic account planning and execution. Take some time to consider the following components:
Having the right resources and skill sets is crucial in a KAM environment. Many companies make the mistake of inserting the traditional quota-carrying, hunter sales rep into the role of a KAM.
Managing complex key accounts is not like working a territory where the sole goal is closing deals. It requires a unique set of competencies that are more geared towards building deep relationships across business lines and verticals, or organizing and coordinating cross-functional stakeholders and resources internally to ensure clients’ needs and expectations are met.
Take a critical look at your KAM team today and determine if they employ a hunter mentality that has them more focused on closing the next deal as quickly as possible, or if they’re equipped with the strategic, long-term vision required to both nurture and further penetrate existing accounts.
Effective account planning is a discipline and requires the right framework to guide account managers through a proven process that goes beyond just selling to encompass building strategic, mutually beneficial relationships between the company and its key customers.
Just as traditional hunter sales employs a core set of methodologies, playbooks and tools, account managers should have consistent, standardized processes built for efficiency, effectiveness, and repeatability, and tailored to the unique role of key account management.
Templates, methodologies, software, dashboards, reporting and analytics – no matter what set of tools you use, they must be operationalized to effectively reinforce the KAM processes established in your organization.
Many companies invest a significant amount of time and money in designing and training teams on theoretical frameworks, but completely miss the mark when it comes to enabling their teams to put theory into practical application on an ongoing basis.
Account managers need a set of tools — designed for the unique world of key accounts – that helps them plan, collaborate, execute and deliver not just on sales but on value creation. Traditional content-driven playbooks and technologies like CRM just aren’t built for that purpose.
There is a big difference between an “account plan” (a noun) that describes a one-off, annual, tick-the-box form that most companies admit gets stashed away and forgotten until the next year, and “account planning” (a verb) which describes an ongoing, strategic and collaborative exercise that involves not only planning, but more importantly executing against the plan using the insights gleaned from the planning process.
Account planning can’t be effectively managed with offline spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations, it can’t be done in a vacuum, and it requires consistency, frequency and input from multiple stakeholders.
As you think about making the right investments to enable your KAM teams to drive revenue (uncovering and winning immediate business) and long term strategic partnerships (creating value to help clients grow), it is crucial to put the right technology platform in place to reinforce and operationalize the program.
A platform that brings critical KAM components together and gives your key account teams the level of insight, collaboration, consistency and customer focus that your clients undoubtedly expect from their strategic partners.
In essence, a single unifying platform that can bring the core components together to offer a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
The right enabling platform for KAM should be purpose-built to get you to the ideal state by transforming your program from a tactical, internal, task-driven process into a strategic, evergreen, discipline focused on customer alignment and revenue growth:
According to CSO Insights, “Companies that engage in effective and ongoing key account planning have win rates nearly double that of companies without a formal process and companies that use a solution designed speciﬁcally for account planning have an 11-point advantage over those using manual efforts and a 9-point advantage over those using homegrown or CRM applications.”