Key Account Management is simply designed to both retain and grow your existing client base which is imperative if you want to grow any business. Your current customers are in effect your competitions biggest prospects, therefore without Key Account Management companies are simply failing to plan for success. Furthermore planning to upsell and cross sell to existing and different areas of the account will not only provide additional revenue, but also serve to “tie” you in further. So given the importance of Key Account Management, it is then vital everyone in the Suppliers team knows and understands the fundamental principles involved as follows.
Key Account Management in it’s simplest terms is “a joint agreement between a customer and a supplier about what will happen in the future regarding the account”. So what then are the fundamentals we must understand.
1) Segregate Accounts.
In most businesses it is simply not practical for every customer to have a Key Account Plan, we therefore need to decide which customers need to be managed. Selecting which accounts are to be managed is not simply about choosing the largest accounts the business has. Often we need to consider which are the “high growth” accounts, these can often start small but can be tomorrows Key accounts. Other strategies might include “managing” accounts before they are even customers. If for example you are in the process of trying to win a major account you may wish to “act as if” and start the Key Account Management process early as part of your Business Development plan. Consider also Strategic Accounts where a particular account has a Strategic value to you, such as a High Profile account within an industry, or an Innovation Partner. Be careful also not to have too many Key Accounts that become impossible to manage because of resource constraints.
2) Understand Relationship Selling
Key Account Management is all about relationships and your team need to know and understand how to create relationships, build relationships and sustain relationships. Choosing the right team to manage your Key Accounts and the relationships therein is vital if you are to be successful. Think of every touch point your Key Account customer will have with your organization and then ensure every team member receives appropriate Key Account Management training. Benchmark your existing relationships, and be sure to include the relationships with people in the customer organization that you have no relationship with, poor relationships and good relationships.
3) Key Account Management Goals
Every plan needs Goals and it is always best to include supplementary goals in addition to the obvious revenue goals. Good Key Account plans will include Customer Satisfaction goals, Retention Goals, Longevity Goals, Relationship Goals, Business Benefit Goals and Shareholder Value Goals for example. In addition to the Goals consider suitable Key Performance Indicators and be sure to measure and report your successes.
Key Account Management is not only vital to business growth it is now often expected by many large corporations. Often starting the process can be difficult, as regardless of which Key Account Template you choose, you will more often than not end up with a document that has more gaps than information. In reality this is a good thing as it forces the Key Account Managers to go out and ask more questions, which can only be good for the business. In the same way that you need to plan for the future, so do your customers and they then will be more than happy to answer any questions and be included in the initial Key Account planning process.
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