The account management landscape looks much different today than it did just a few years ago. Competition has exploded, customers expect hyper-personalized service, and technology is rapidly changing. Account Managers (AMs) need new strategies to deliver results, or they’ll be left in the dust.
Here, we’ll cover what Sales Leaders need to do to set their Account Managers up for success in today’s environment. With the right mindset, strategies, and training under their belt, your AMs can thrive and drive revenue growth.
Defining Success As An Account ManagerAccount manager success aligns directly with their key accounts’ satisfaction and loyalty. But, with varied customer needs and goals, success metrics may look different on a case-by-case basis.
As a sales leader, your universal markers of success must be crystal clear while allowing flexibility for each account. We’ve identified some fundamental principles in this regard:
- Trusted advisor status earns strategic influence. When AMs are seen as trusted strategic partners rather than just vendors, they can earn a coveted seat at the table for initiatives like product development discussions, pricing strategy, or expansion planning. This demonstrates the tremendous value that goes beyond bare-bones customer service.
- Achieving sales targets and KPIs quantifies value. Consistently delivering on growth goals, revenue targets, retention KPIs, and other quantitative metrics demonstrates the AM's concrete business impact. There’s no faking these numbers!
- High retention and growth demonstrate satisfaction. When accounts continue signing extended contracts, increasing spend year over year, and expanding into new products or services, it signals genuine satisfaction and loyalty to the AMs partnership. Retaining and growing accounts should be recognized as key success markers.
- Stellar feedback validates service quality. Unprompted positive feedback, reviews, testimonials, and referrals reflect that an AM has truly exceeded expectations and forged real relationships. As a Sales Leader, hearing accounts rave about your AMs is a dream come true and an indicator of success.
With this framework, managers can tailor success plans to every unique client. Defining the end goal is an important first step, but strategic training on the mindsets, behaviors, and skills are required to make this vision a reality. More on that next!
Creating A Roadmap To Success
No two customers are the same, so creating a blueprint for success is mission-critical and must be part of any Account Management strategy. Sales Leaders are at the helm of their ship's success – to go about it haphazardly can be detrimental to an organization's ability to serve their customers well. Here are key principles for Sales Leaders to instill in their team:
Choose To Serve
Adopting an Other-Centered® mindset represents a fundamental shift away from traditional sales approaches. It means that instead of focusing on a sales agenda, you make every single interaction about genuinely understanding and serving the customer’s needs first and identifying ways to serve them.
This customer-first approach demonstrates authenticity and builds loyalty and trust faster than any other strategy. It requires letting go of preconceived notions and hearing the customer’s perspective with fresh ears at each new meeting or conversation.
With an Other-Centered approach, Account Managers must view every touchpoint and conversation as an opportunity to provide value through education, insight, and assistance rather than trying to “close a deal” or make a sale.
The key is that the AM consistently initiates value without expecting immediate reciprocation or compensation. Over time, this builds tremendous trust and loyalty, sparking organic growth and sales opportunities.
Seek To Understand
Constructing a detailed decision-maker map provides invaluable insight into the customer’s unique motivations, challenges, and buying criteria. It helps to uncover the stated and unstated needs of key accounts.
This means going beyond surface-level needs by asking probing questions, listening attentively, and genuinely trying to understand each customer’s unique perspective. The depth of understanding this provides is the foundation for adding real value to the partnership. With this approach, AMs can identify and preemptively solve challenges the customer may have yet to vocalize.
Other-Centered Account Managers view this “seek to understand” process as an ongoing quest, not a one-time event. There are always opportunities to gain deeper insights into the people, dynamics, and objectives that drive a key account’s organization. This intelligence becomes a critical competitive advantage.
Trust is fundamental to any successful relationship. If your solution or offering isn’t the ideal fit for a customer, be completely transparent about it. Don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole. As Sales Leaders, we need to teach and preach this so that our AMs understand the impact it can have, both positive and negative.
Trying to force a bad match for short-term gain only diminishes trust over the long term. It all goes back to having an authentic, Other-Centered mindset focused on mutual benefit.
Leveraging a deep understanding of each account’s unique needs, motivations, and goals is crucial for identifying ways to provide valuable solutions and insights that go above and beyond the basics.
Other-Centered Account Managers are constantly looking for opportunities to surprise and delight customers by exceeding their expectations. Here are some of the ways they can do that:
- Proactively introducing a new feature or capability before the customer thinks to ask for it because the AM understands it would boost customer retention or satisfaction.
- Making personalized recommendations on improving processes or reducing costs based on deep knowledge of their operations.
- Connecting them to strategic partners, industry experts, or other influential contacts tailored specifically to help with initiatives.
- Sharing relevant best practices, thought leadership, or reports preemptively as a value add.
When Account Managers can get in their customers’ heads and anticipate needs before they arise, they become invaluable assets. This level of service turns AMs into true strategic partners who can be trusted to consistently add value.
Become A Trusted Advisor
When AMs are a cog in the wheel, they become indispensable and cannot easily be replaced. This is how to get deep and wide into key accounts. Achieve this by constantly delivering tailored service and value without expecting immediate reciprocation. This level of Other-Centered focus makes your AMs trusted partners, not just another vendor.
Strategic Account Management™ With ASLAN
ASLAN Training’s Strategic Account Management program focuses on implementing this personalized roadmap to help Account Managers master their roles. Our comprehensive training process equips Sales Leaders and AMs with the strategies, skills, and tools required for a fundamental mindset shift for success.
From adopting an Other-Centered mindset to becoming indispensable trusted advisors, we offer the complete toolkit required for success. Participants learn proven techniques to build rapport quickly, deeply understand their customer's needs, and clearly communicate value.
Don’t leave your team's development to chance. Invest in their success through strategic AM training. If this sounds like something that may benefit your team, reach out today. We’re ready when you are.