According to the Harvard Business Review, customer satisfaction increases 20% within a few years of starting a key account management program. Profits and revenue, meanwhile, can increase by 15%.
Good business is built on good relationships. But nurturing and maintaining relationships is easier said than done, especially in business, where competition for clients is fierce and loyalty is hard-won. In companies with a sales team, account management plays a critical role. Account managers understanding customer needs using a consultative selling approach. One of the core tenants of consultative selling is: To be truly consultative, a sales professional must use authentic curiosity to deeply understand customer needs.
The members of a customer account management team, called account managers (AMs), are charged with two primary responsibilities: Retain a customer’s business, and grow that business over time. Because the position is focused on building relationships, companies should evaluate an account manager’s performance using metrics such as customer lifetime value. Another key responsibility of an account manager is to analyze data across clients and deliver regular updates to customers.
Do consultative-style questions that demonstrate genuine curiosity. The answers to these questions give the salesperson insight into the true nature of the customer’s challenge. Adhering to the consultative selling process improves the sales professional’s ability to resolve objections and position relevant solutions to advance the sale.
The two most abused, misused, and overused words in selling are the words consultative and solution. It is interesting that these two words hold this distinction because without being consultative, the so-called solution is usually little more than a standard product pitch. In consultative selling, account managers learn about customer needs before talking about a product or solution. Product knowledge is transformed into a tailored solution when it is delivered and positioned based on the customer’s needs and language.
The consultative approach is designed to put you in a position of being a trusted business advisor to your clients. By understanding their clients’ needs, the account manager can help answer their questions, solve their problems (ideally with customized product or service solutions), and develop a long-term strategic partnership with the client that extends beyond the original sale. Customers who are happy not only stay with the company, they are also more likely to grow their spending. This allows account managers to find upsell opportunities that add value based on the client’s goals.
Account management should lead client success efforts by creating or managing a clear customer roadmap. A roadmap of your clients’ journeys can ensure consistency in communication and messaging, maintain clear scheduling, and keep team members on the same page at each step of the client experience.
Account managers should have an analytical mindset. Their analytic skills will help them create and present business cases. They need to be able to think quickly and apply their knowledge to a variety of different clients and markets and be confident when presenting the information.