Are your Account Managers (AMs) equipped for success in today's complex sales landscape?
Account management has evolved, and so should their training.
Account Managers are vital players in growing and retaining revenue from existing customers. Unlike traditional sales reps focused on hunting new business, Account Managers are tasked with farming and cultivating current accounts to uncover expansion opportunities.
However, many organizations still treat Account Managers like any other salesperson – with quotas, territories, and a mandate to aggressively sell. This outdated approach sets Account Managers up for failure, given how much the buying environment has changed. With more stakeholders involved and sky-high buyer expectations, a more consultative, customer-centric mindset is required.
Account managers need specialized training to adopt an Other-Centered® perspective and execute the unique objectives of their role. The Other-Centered mindset focuses on deeply understanding the customer's needs, challenges, and goals rather than taking a sales quota-driven approach. It enables Account Managers to build trust and strengthen relationships.
And that is what AM training desperately needs.
5 Pitfalls of Traditional AM Training
Even with the purest of intentions, many companies fall into these common traps when training Account Managers:
- They’re Farmers, Not Hunters -- AMs are responsible for managing existing relationships and growing their accounts. They're not actively hunting for new deals. Traditional AM training often focuses on closing new business, which can lead to AMs neglecting their existing accounts.
- Treating Them Like Any Other Sales Role -- Account management is a unique role that requires an Other-Centered mindset and different skills that go beyond new business acquisition. AMs need to be able to think strategically, build relationships, and manage complex accounts. Traditional AM training often focuses on sales tactics and closing deals, which can lead to misalignment and frustration.
- Forgetting That Buyer Priorities Shift Constantly -- Buyer priorities are constantly changing, and AMs need to be able to keep up – especially when buyers are tight-lipped. How do AMs understand what is important to buyers, whether they make it known, or not?? By truly serving their customers with an Other-Centered mindset.
- Failing To Adapt To How Buyers Have Changed. -- Purchases often involve multiple decision-makers. AMs need to be able to identify and engage each decision-maker strategically. Traditional AM training often focuses on building relationships with a single contact, which can lead to AMs missing out on key decision-makers.
- Not Accounting For The Rise In Decision-Makers -- Purchases now involve many more decision-makers, and it can come with some major red tape. Account managers must identify, navigate, and engage each one in a strategic way that builds up the account.
These pitfalls can make or break a team. AMs need to be ready to flex and pivot as quickly as the unique demands placed on them do.
Account Management Training That Sticks
To make training stick, you need to think outside the box (away from an out-of-the-box “solution”). Practical training for Account Managers requires these core elements.
More than models or tactics, reps need to grasp why a new approach is essential and how it benefits them. New skills must align with their incentives and goals. That’s why we preach mindset and an Other-Centered approach in our Account Management training here at ASLAN.
Having an Other-Centered mindset might not come naturally in the sales world, but it’s imperative to serve customers at the highest level through the sales process. When the customer’s needs are understood, embraced, and addressed, barriers are eliminated, and buying becomes much easier.
Concepts are more tangible when reps see them in action based on common account scenarios. But role-playing alone just won’t do the trick. Sure, it’s OK to learn the basics, but to deeply understand the role and connect the dots, reps need to get into the weeds with real-life situations and customer interactions. This also allows for practice and real-time feedback, which is valuable to their growth as an AM.
One-off training with no ongoing support has a minimal impact – 70% of the curriculum is lost in less than a week without the right mindset and reinforcement of the principles learned. Reinforcing concepts over time through coaching is crucial to making it stick.
Managers need tools to make it stick. Here’s where ASLAN offers a tactical approach to training:
- Account Blueprints: AMs learn how to build a breadcrumb trail that helps them get deeper and wider into accounts.
- Decision Maker Relational Map: Who is involved in the decision-making process, and how do we gain proximity to them?
- Value Map: Find out what matters to each customer and lead with an Other-Centered framework.
Strategic Account Management Training With ASLAN
We’ll be the first to tell you that we do things a little differently here. We draw on the most effective learning tactics that Account Managers can depend on to accelerate their career beyond what they thought possible.
Our training focuses on:
- Developing An Other-Centered Mindset. Reps learn to approach accounts through the customer’s lens.
- Building Executive Relationships. We’ve created a framework that guides AMs through the best pathways to develop executive relationships, helping them grow deeper and wider into key accounts.
- Creating Value Continuously. AMs need an ongoing process for uncovering expansion opportunities based on the specific needs of the account.
“Within the first four months of implementing ASLAN’s program, appointments set with cold prospects jumped by 300% and engagement rates increased by 808%.” - Director, Fortune 1000 Life Insurance Company
The buyer landscape has changed, and Account Managers play a vital role in growing and retaining revenue from existing customers in this new environment. But they need training tailored specifically to their farmer role, not outdated sales training built for hunters.
With an Other-Centered approach, executive engagement tactics, and a process for continuous value creation, Account Managers can exceed revenue goals and retain accounts long-term.
Has this got you curious? If it makes sense to do so, reach out. We’d love to discuss how we can be of service.