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How To Plan Your Key Account Management

If your business relies on customers, then you likely already have some kind of account management system in place. Some of these accounts will be more valuable to your business than others, which is why you should have a key account management system in place. 

What is key account management?

The concept of key account management has been around for decades. It involves analysing your existing customers and identifying those who are of particular financial, strategic or reputational importance. 

Once identified, the key account manager is tasked with developing a much deeper relationship with them to retain them as a client for longer. Many companies struggle with effective and consistent key account management

Define your strategy

Key account management strategy should be documented at a company level. Leaving it to individual salespeople or account managers can result in varying levels of quality.  Some people might be naturally better at it than others, so you are missing the opportunity to get ideas for best practice, but also potentially putting your key accounts in jeopardy by having untrained people looking after them. 

The identification of key accounts should take place first, and then a strategy for regular contact. Perhaps key accounts get more perk or branded business items as part of their onboarding, click this link for some ideas on branded goods. 

Key accounts need a more hands-on approach, with regular progress meetings and corporate entertainment opportunities if this is something your company does. 

Train your account managers

Expecting your account managers to safeguard the financial future of your company with no training could have catastrophic outcomes for your business. 

Once you have identified your key accounts and have a strategy in place for maintaining them, all account managers should undergo training to ensure you have a company-wide understanding of what is expected of them. It makes identifying performance issues easier too.  

Don’t oversell

Don’t treat all of your key accounts as simply cash cows for your business, trying to sell them more and more. A key account managers role is to develop a good relationship and suggest solutions to their problems, not force sales. There may be long periods where a key account manager simply keeps the relationship running, rather than trying to upsell every time. Your clients will appreciate this and are less likely to leave for a less pushy competitor. 

Conclusion

Even with the move towards e-commerce and SaaS, key account management still has a place in business. Identifying these accounts is vital to increasing profits, reducing client churn and stabilising your business. 
Identifying these accounts is the first step. You then need to put solid account management processes in place to make sure that their needs are being met and future needs anticipated. Then you need to train your account managers on the importance of maintaining a key account. Some companies even have key account managers in place, who have focused more on client retention and less on sales figures. They are specialists in this area and are worth considering as you scale.

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