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Why Always Be Closing is Wrong for Key Account Management

Tired of pushy sales tactics? Forget closing deals, start opening relationships. Learn the organic sales method that leads to effortless growth for key accounts.
Why ABC is wrong for KAM

In the world of key account management, it’s time to challenge traditional sales mantras. If “always be closing” rings a bell, it’s time to unring it.

The real secret to growing your accounts?

Get to know your clients inside out. Build relationships with the influencers and decision-makers, and develop plans that solve their issues and create value for you at the same time. When you do that, your services become the natural answer to their needs.

And then, sales kind of just happen – almost like magic.

The Role of Relationships in Key Account Management

In key account management, surface-level interactions just won’t cut it. Challenge yourself to dig deeper.

  • Comprehensive Insight: Research your key accounts thoroughly. Understand their industry, day-to-day challenges, and both short and long-term goals. Use this knowledge to provide recommendations that deliver results.
  • Build Trust Through Communication: Regular performance reviews, discussions about industry trends, and strategic alignment are crucial. These interactions aren’t about selling your services but engaging with your clients in a way that consistently adds value.
  • Adapt to Changing Needs: Be ready to pivot your plans and approach to adapt to your clients’ evolving requirements. Use tools like Crystal to understand stakeholder personalities and preferences, making you more relatable and helping to optimize your interactions.

Enhancing Client Engagement

Nurturing your client relationships goes beyond “catch-ups.” It involves aligning strategies with client priorities, consistent communication, and positioning yourself as a growth partner. Along the way, you’ll find new problems that need solving with new services and lead to new sales opportunities.

  • Co-create an Account Plan: Work with clients to create solutions to make their business better. Focus on things like cost-saving, efficiency, quality, cost avoidance or revenue-generation ideas.
  • Go from Plan to Action: Understand and proactively address client goals by identifying the action steps to turn your plans into reality. Show your commitment to get them closer to the results they want.
  • Adapt to Feedback: Seek continuous input, track progress, and adjust strategies to meet evolving needs. Put your client first, and the rest will fall into place.

Selling Through Understanding and Trust

It’s time to retire the pushy salesperson hat for good. The client whisperers realize it’s about the partnership, not the transactions. When you immerse yourself in really understanding someone’s business, the sales happen practically on their own.

The sweetest deals are those you win when clients see you as an ally fixing their pain points rather than just another supplier?

  • Share Industry Expertise: Stay current with the latest industry trends and challenges. Use this knowledge to anticipate and meet client needs.
  • Become Their Guide: Offer insights and advice that go beyond your products or services. Adopt a continuous improvement mindset to optimize your client’s experience working with you.
  • Measuring Impact: Track key metrics to analyze the improvements achieved through your partnership. Don’t be shy to share these successes with your clients and remind them of the value of your relationship.

The Organic Sales Method

I’ve always seen the best results by letting partnership and understanding nurture sales organically over time. Don’t force it – get fully immersed in your accounts’ worlds, tackle every challenge side-by-side, and grow into their go-to trusted advisor. This stuff can’t be rushed…but when that bond clicks into place, you’ll feel it and reap the rewards.

  • Assess Ongoing Needs: Consistent conversations to align on goals, anticipate challenges, and identify opportunities for better outcomes.
  • Deliver Proactive Value: To tackle issues early and provide relevant guidance, stay on top of account updates.
  • Relationship Building: Identify influencers and decision-makers and nurture relationships through consistent value-add interactions and co-created solutions.
  • Mutual Success Planning: Embed yourself in your clients’ strategic plans for mutual wins over the long term. Leave the low-hanging fruit for suppliers. Go for the big ideas—you’re a partner.

Wrapping Up and Moving Forward

Follow these steps, and you’ll trade aggressive sales tactics for a recipe of understanding, trust and partnership that makes account growth feel effortless.

What to Do Now:

Identify Key Stakeholders

  • What: Create a comprehensive list of decision-makers and influencers within each key account.
  • How: Analyze recent interactions, review account histories, and consult with team members with insights into the accounts.
  • Why: Understanding who holds influence and decision-making power in each account enables tailored communication and strategy development.

Develop Client Profiles

  • What: Construct detailed profiles for each key account.
  • How: Gather information on their business goals, challenges, industry trends, and preferences. This can be done through direct interviews, market research, and reviewing historical data.
  • Why: A well-rounded client profile helps personalize your approach and solutions, ensuring they are relevant and impactful.

Schedule Regular Check-ins

  • What: Establish a schedule for regular communication with each key account.
  • How: Use a mix of formal and informal check-ins, such as scheduled meetings, casual calls, or emails, to discuss progress, new developments, and feedback.
  • Why: Consistent communication fosters stronger relationships, informs you about client needs, and positions you as a dependable partner.

Analyze Product Utilization

  • What: Create a detailed map of your products or services currently being used by each account, those not in use, and any underutilized areas.
  • How: Review account usage data and conduct surveys or interviews with key stakeholders to understand their usage and satisfaction levels.
  • Why: This analysis identifies upselling or cross-selling opportunities and areas where additional training or support might be needed.

Craft Strategic Plans

  • What: Develop clear, phased strategic plans for each account.
  • How: Collaborate with clients to outline objectives, set timelines, and establish key performance indicators.
  • Why: A strategic plan guides the partnership, aligns goals, and provides a roadmap for achieving mutual success.

Monitor Key Metrics:

  • What: Track and analyze key performance metrics for each account.
  • How: Use analytics tools to monitor engagement, satisfaction, and ROI. Regularly review these metrics to assess the health and progress of the account.
  • Why: Keeping track of these metrics helps evaluate your strategies’ effectiveness and make informed decisions for continual improvement.

It’s not rocket science: make their goals your goals, back them with action, and watch as your partnerships soar to new heights.

Key Takeaways

Forge lasting client relationships by understanding their needs and solving problems, paving the way for growth opportunities.

  1. Know Your Client: Dive deep to understand your client's ambitions, challenges, and pain points. This insight is your key to unlocking the right solutions that lead to sales.
  2. Build Trust Over Time: Ignore the rush for immediate sales. You’re in it for the long haul. Foster trust by consistently delivering expertise and top-notch service. That’s how you’ll convert opportunities into revenue.
  3. Create Bold Plans Together: Jointly create strategic plans that aim high. Suppliers go for the low-hanging fruit. Partners seek to disrupt. Think big to set the stage for more sales down the line.
  4. Solving Problems, Spot Opportunities: Address your clients' current issues while anticipating future needs. Long-term thinking is how you create loyalty and integrate yourself as a strategic partner.


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