Account Management

More B2B Key Account Management tips from Armin

One central question that your Key Account Plan must answer is how you move up the value chain, ie how can you make this client more profitable for you?

If you are managing several smaller accounts and you have to decide where to put your attention, rank them according to revenue, growth, and customer type. Only if the customer is a “relationship client”, will you have good chances of developing the account. A “price client” normally doesn’t justify dedicated Key Account Management.

Your Key Account Plan should contain dedicated actions to improve Customer Satisfaction. One can be to install regular meetings with your customer to offer him the opportunity to give feedback on your services or share specific challenges with you.

If you want to further develop an existing customer, apply the following approaches (in this order): 1. sell more of the same; 2. offer a complementary or different product to the same department; 3. sell a successful solution in one department to another department. These approaches are part of the customer development plan (Key Account Plan).

Your Customer Development Plan (Account Plan) actually only needs to answer 4 questions about your client: 1. Where does he want to be?; 2. What does he want right now?; 3. What is he afraid of?; 4. What is he used to?

For Key Account Managers, the Customer Development Plan (aka Account Plan) is a central element for planning you business expansion. It is important to document and continuously update your complete understanding of the customer's business, the decision-makers and their challenges.

It doesn’t really make sense to introduce account management and then exchange the account manager every year. It doesn’t make sense because a relationship takes a while, usually more than a year to build.

Via continuous work, by defining an objective, having a clear plan to achieve that objective, and acting authentically to build relationships you will finally close these deals.

As an Account Manager, you need measurable objectives; where do you want to take your account?

As an Account Manager, you have to keep your word and then gradually you will authentically feel what you do and build a much deeper relationship with your client.

So, for me personally, there is one important word in Key Account Management; sustainability. We are not looking for the quick success, we are not looking for one-off projects and then go away, we want to sustainably create partnerships and business relationships with key accounts.

Professional Account Management requires dedicated and continuous work by the Key Account Manager fulfilling the tasks, a clear objective, a sound plan, the intelligent management of the right opportunities, authentic management of relationships, and specific techniques and skills to develop relationships and close deals.

The most important trait of a Key Account Manager is Empathy.

Account Management is the planning, organisation, implementation and control of all actions that sustainably increase the business a company makes with selected customers.

Account Management requires the dedicated and continuous work of a (B2B Key) Account Manager fulfilling the tasks, a clear objective, a sound plan, the intelligent management of the right opportunities, authentic management of relationships, and specific techniques and skills to develop relationships and close deals.

It is 5 times easier to sell to existing accounts compared with winning a new one.

+5% customer loyalty leads to up to +75% profitability.

Good Account Management leads to loyal customers. Loyal customers buy continuously. They recommend you through word-of-mouth.

The central objective of good Key Account Management is to increase your company’s share-of-wallet with existing clients, the percentage of their budget that they are willing to spend with you.

As an Account Manager who has a fancy job description, don’t forget one thing: you are paid to close deals and make money for your company.

If you want to be close to your customer, study his website regularly, read the company reports, and follow the company on social media.

In B2B Account Management, one central question must always be: How can we move up the value chain and hence make more profit per customer.

Sometimes relationships are built by tough negotiations.

Relationships are sometimes strengthened by saying no to the client which is the hardest thing to do, but sometimes it is necessary in order to gain credibility and to show some kind of professionalism.

When we think of the ideal Account Manager or Advisor, the concierge is actually quite a nice role model because the concierge is always there, isn't he.

Great B2B Account Managers want to learn more about their clients without being intrusive. They have empathy. They take care and they give.

5 Star Sales Managers are interested in their clients' problems. They really care, they ask questions rather than telling them things.

5 Star Account Managers have empathy. They take care and they give.

5 Star Account Managers want to simplify life for their clients, make life easy for them.

It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to impose things on your client.

There is no point in trying to convince your client of things that he or she either doesn't need or doesn't have the money to buy.

The more you push, the more the client will push back, that's the rule.

Some deals you win, some you lose. You can maximise the number of deals you win by doing proper deal qualification upfront.

Decide early if you want to pursue an opportunity by qualifying it properly. If you can’t win, improve your position ot pull out.

The first thing that 5-Star Account Managers do is that they listen. So they don’t talk they maybe talk 10% of the time and they listen 90% of the time

5-Star Account Managers want to learn more about their clients without being intrusive. Hence, they demonstrate empathy.

Shaping a deal means what do we actually deliver? How do we match our offerings with the requirements of the client? How do we price it? How do we charge it? How do we creatively maybe extend our offer? What do we not do? What is exactly the scope that's shaping the offer? We create value stories.

A good Account Plan starts with your client's company profile and the client business environment.

Describing your client’s company profile means answeing these questions: Mr. Client! Who are you? And what is important to you? How big are you? How many employees? And what are your revenues? Where do you come from? How many subsidiaries do you have? What are your main products? What part of the value chain do you cover? To which customers do you deliver your goods? What have you done recently? Have you acquired something? Have you sold something? Don’t overcomplicate it. It’s pretty straight forward.

A good Account Plan answers the following question: How much revenue do we want and how much profit do you want to make?

In your Account Plan, you must answer the following question: How do we measure and improve customer satisfaction? In other words how do we make our customer happier?

When writing your Account Plan, ask yourself what knowledge and skills and which people or partners you need to implement the plan. Secure resource early.

Nobody in the whole world is interested in where you see opportunities unless it’s an opportunity for your client.

So the only thing which is interesting is where is the client’s opportunity? And how can I match my strengths with that opportunity and support the client?

Ask the following question regularly (at least once per quarter): Mr. Client where would you like us to improve?

Don’t create opportunities based on your competencies only. Look for client problems and see if they match your strengths. Then you might have an opportunity.

When thinking about your company’s strengths, do not put down more than three, it doesn’t really make sense. Your client can’t remember them anyway.

Neutralising your weaknesses is much easier than working on them. Don’t waste your time working on your weaknesses. Bring your strengths to the fore instead.

Start growing the business of your accounts with the "penetrate" strategy. What you do is you sell more of something existing to a department where you already have a presence.

Four important questions your customer development plan (Account Plan) is meant to answer are: 1. are the customers interested in your offer; 2. have they set budget for it; 3. do they believe in your competence; 4. do they believe that your product will work for them? You need a "yes" answer to all four questions if you want to sell successfully.

Make your Key Account Plan your compass by checking it every Monday to check if you are still on track with the development of business with your existing account.