The case for planning, managing, and growing your Strategic Accounts differently, is well established. You need to understand, manage, and sell to your strategic accounts differently than your non-strategic accounts or new logo pursuits. It begins with recognizing that not all accounts in your portfolio are strategic. Identify the strategic accounts in your portfolio and manage and grow them in a systematic way. It is a mindset shift that is then supported by the tools and methods needed to succeed in your pursuit of scaling your strategic relationships to new heights.
The good news is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the processes and best practices to manage your key accounts. The difficulty though is in the execution and the systems required to enable strategic account management. In nine out of ten organizations, the CRM systems are built for the ‘hunters’ in your sales teams and are focused on the tactical aspects of selling. The focus of these systems tends to be restricted to managing leads, tracking sales deals, tracking customer issues, and doing all these efficiently and transparently. Of course, these are important aspects of sales management but fall short when it comes to the needs of ‘farmers’ in your front-end teams that are building relationships with, and managing your strategic accounts.
Managing strategic accounts as against calling upon and selling your products and services to a target list of prospects, needs a different, holistic approach. Here are some areas that are important for effective execution of a Key Account Management strategy:
Here’s the catch. You will have 20% of your front-end sales staff, who are “natural” at this and don’t need systems to guide them to manage and grow your strategic accounts. The larger 80% though need help. They are stuck with CRM systems that aren’t built for them. The systems aren’t implemented to obtain this holistic view of the account leaving them with a handicap in making the most out of their efforts to penetrate and grow their accounts. CRM systems may have the features and functionality, but often the implementations don’t do justice to the farmers in your team, as they seek to strengthen your company’s relationships with your strategic customers. You need a Strategic Account Management Toolkit that educates and implements account management best practices for both the hunters and farmers in your front-end teams.