Within B2B sales organizations, account management involves managing the relationship between your business and existing customers, in order to explore and create additional sales opportunities. Therefore, it has a role to play in facilitating business growth and maximizing revenue.
Often, when it comes to improving revenue, businesses turn to sales training, when in actual fact they may benefit more from focusing on account management training. Yet, according to CSO Insights’ 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, just 33.1 percent of salespeople are required to develop strategic account plans.
Here, we take a look at ways to improve your sales account management and boost revenue and growth potential.
1. Identify Your Key Accounts
As part of the wider practice of account management, companies often embark upon a key account management (KAM) strategy. In simple terms, this involves identifying accounts which are highly valuable to your business and maintaining a positive business relationship with that customer or client for the long term.
It is worth stressing at this point that not all large accounts are strategic or key accounts. To identify key accounts, you need to consider the following questions:
- Is the relationship financially beneficial to you?
- Is there potential to sell more products or services to this account in future?
- Do they have a strategic role to play in helping your company to grow?
- Do you have access to people at executive level?
- Do they have influence over their market, or over other potential clients?
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2. Develop a Shared Account Strategy
With each of those accounts identified, it is important to develop a shared account strategy. Essentially, this involves learning precisely what a customer or client’s goals are and identifying how you can help them to achieve this, while simultaneously ensuring the relationship remains beneficial for your organisation.
“This is often overlooked, or simply reduced to ‘This year, I want to sell them X, and next year I want to sell them Y,'” explains Tamara Schenk, Research Director of CSO Insights. “A shared account strategy begins with the customer’s goals and ends with how you can help.”
3. Provide Dedicated Training
Next, you need to make sure your account managers are trained and have developed the right skills for the job. Many businesses fall into the trap of placing top performers from their sales teams into these roles, but this is not always the best move, as account management requires a different set of skills to traditional sales.
Indeed, in addition to things like product knowledge and persuasive skills, account managers need to be able to plan, consult and have a degree of financial knowledge. For this reason, it is vital that you employ the right people and implement a dedicated account management development plan for them.
4. Define Success and Measure Performance
Finally, to get the most out of your account management team, you need to define what both long and short-term success actually look like and continually measure your own performance against those definitions. Consider the problems you are helping customers to solve, their satisfaction levels, financial results, and lifetime value.
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“Set the right metrics,” says Lynette Ryals, writing for the Harvard Business Review. “Traditional sales metrics – such as the amount of time spent with the customer – are irrelevant to KAM. If you pay your key account managers for top line revenue, expect them to focus on short-term sales and not on building longer-term value.”
Account management has an important role to play in helping your business to grow and to generate maximum revenue. In order to improve your sales account management, you should try to identify specific key strategic accounts, focus on providing solutions to their goals, and define and measure success. Furthermore, it is essential to recognize that standard sales training is not sufficient, and account managers require dedicated training of their own.