What Is Key Account Management?
What is key account management?
And what is the difference between key account management and sales?
Then there is key account management and strategic account management – what is the difference?
In this article, we’ll be exploring this, as well as how to ensure you execute a positive account management experience.
What Is Key Account Management?
So what is key account management?
Key account management is the process of putting in place systems to ensure you deliver ongoing value, consistency, and hold onto your current clients you already have an agreement in place with.
Sales focuses on closing new business, and key account management focuses on enhancing the relationship with the client when you’ve already won the business.
When putting in place a key account management system for your business, many business owners may find that this can be quite costly.
However, depending on your business type, there are definitely benefits of having an account management system in place.
What Is The Benefit Of Focusing On Key Account Management
There are expenses in maintaining an account, especially if you want to exceed expectations and deliver outstanding results and customer service.
However, looking at initial costs of running a key account management system can be a short-sighted approach.
This is because it usually costs a lot of time, energy and money to on board a new client – it’s easier to keep your clients than to win new ones.
Secondly, what will the return on initial investment be for your company if you can continue working with the clients you on board? What will be the lifetime value of that client?
Finally – happy clients provide referrals.
The reasons why sales objections usually come up, is because of a lack of trust and desire.
Referrals help you overcome these early.
As per Harvard Business Review; key account management can be very beneficial.
What Is Key & Strategic Account Management
Another common question salespeople ask, is what is key account management and strategic account management?
Is there a difference?
Strategic account management is slightly different to key account management, as strategic account management focuses on other areas on top of client satisfaction.
A Strategic Account Manager will also look at other areas within the client’s business they can also serve; whether it be:
- Giving more assistance
- Creating more capacity and capability
- Looking for ways to enhance the account value
In sales, there are opportunities to up sell, as well as cross selling.
Up selling is increasing the value of your potential client, by offering other products and services that they can also buy which will help them reach their outcomes and goals.
Cross selling is selling them other items which will work in-sync with what they’ve already bought.
So a Strategic Account Manager is inserted into the business not only to look after the client; but increase the overall return on investment.
Related article: Cross Selling – Your Ultimate Guide
What Is Strategic Selling In Account Management?
So far, we’ve answered the regular question of ‘What is key account management’, as well as ‘what is strategic account management’.
Let’s explore what is strategic selling in account management.
Strategic selling; also known as strategy selling, is involving other people within your business to help you:
- With lead generation
- Your sales conversations
- Sales presentations
- Your sales process
Involving other people within your business to work on securing clients, as well as serving existing clients with your account management approach, can be an excellent part of your overall sales process.
This way, you’ll leverage their unique experiences as well as knowledge to help you better serve the clients you already have.
Related article: What Is Strategic Selling? A Detailed Guide
How To Deliver Strategic Account Management?
There are four key areas to focus on, if you’d like to successfully execute a strategic account management process.
Understand Your Clients Outcomes
It’s easy to bring up ideas that you think may help your potential client, however if you don’t know what outcomes and results they’re trying to achieve, you’ll fall on deaf ears.
Not to mention – you may look ignorant and can potentially harm your relationship with your client.
Instead, it’s important to know what your client is trying to achieve, and then prescribe solutions for how you and your company can potentially help them achieve it.
This positions you as a specialist, an authority, and as a partner; versus just another salesperson.
Know Your Stuff
Not only is it important to know their outcomes, but it’s equally important to know the technical detail of how they can potentially get there.
By being a technical expert in your field, you’ll be able to help them step by step in achieving their outcomes; which may also be with products or services that your business sells.
By being a technical expert, you’ll maintain trust as well as better solve their problems with prescribed solutions.
Share With Your Team
Another important part of key account management is sharing what you learn with the rest of your team in your sales meetings.
Your sales meetings should have an agenda, and one of these agenda items may be what you’ve learnt in your key account management systems, what you can enhance, as well as share opportunities of what’s working and what isn’t.
This allows everyone to be on the same page, as well as lean on other people’s experiences, insights, and to ensure that everyone is moving forward aligned and consistent.
Related article: 8 x Sales Meeting Topics To Share With Your Team
Follow A Sales Process
One of the foundational and imperative parts of your strategy with key account management, is ensuring that you and your team are following a proven sales process.
A sales process will ensure that whomever is meeting with your client; you’ll follow a consistent system when selling them something new, meeting with decision makers and overcoming potential objections and areas of concern early on.
If someone is speaking with your client one way, and another sales professional approaches your client in a different way; this will create a negative and unprofessional impression.
Ensure all your people follow the same sales process, and that they have training that allows them to do so.
Related article: The Sales Process – A Step By Step Guide
Key account management is a potentially beneficial system to implement into your business, and one worth exploring.
Prior to allocating resources; do the math as to what it will cost you, and what potential return on investment you’ll receive by having a key account management system in place.
By aligning your key account management with a sales management system; you’ll be well on your way to delivering consistent and best practice results to your clients.