How To Build The Best B2B Account Management Team?
Traditional sales roles focus on winning the business, but account management is different. The client already exists and doesn’t need to be chased. The account management function is to nurture the relationship further, to ensure that the client is retained and to grow the opportunity further.
The consulting firm Bain & Co published research suggesting that a 5% increase in customer loyalty can result in a 25% increase in profits so the importance of account management is obvious.
But how can you build an account management team that helps your business to benefit further from the existing client relationships?
The most important point is for your account management team to focus on the client relationship. The sales process is transactional – the sale is the goal. The account management process is relational – the focus is on constantly improving the relationship between the brand and the client.
The importance of this approach cannot be understated. Many B2B contracts are lost each year simply because of a poor client experience. Let’s explore some of the important processes that a great account management team will undertake:
Grow The Business
The account management team needs to understand the business and industry of their client. They need to be able to see around corners, to suggest ideas and to actively create new opportunities. The opportunity to upsell or cross-sell new business should be framed within a spirit of partnership. The account manager is helping their client to achieve more success, not just closing another sale.
Manage The Client Relationship
The account management team must understand their client inside-out and constantly be aware of their pain points and stress. The account management team needs to listen to the client, but also requires the ability to anticipate what may be needed in future. Many industries are facing a wave of digital transformation at present that is causing a sense of continuous – a great account management team can help their client. They should eventually be considered a partner, not just a supplier.
Manage Client Satisfaction
Clients will only stay loyal if they are satisfied with the product or service you are delivering and the process of managing the interactions between the partners. A strong focus on managing client satisfaction helps to ensure customer loyalty. It is far more expensive to locate and secure a new client, compared to just ensuring the ones you already have are satisfied. The account management team should take the voice of your client inside your own business.
The most successful organizations take care when designing their strategic account management team so they are focused on measurable and repeatable processes. Some specific best practices include:
- Dedicated managers: you are focusing on the relationship with your client. Give them a dedicated manager and show that their business is important to yours. If they speak to a different person every time they need to contact your business they will quickly feel that their business is not taken seriously.
- Focus on the sales transition: focus on the handover period from when sales close a deal to the client then being cared for by the account management team. Build a plan and test it. Make the transition from prospective client to client as smooth as possible.
- Do your research: understand the client, their industry, their competitors, and news about potential changes to their business. Build a dedicated research function to support all your account management team.
- Plan contacts: find the right cadence for each client and stick to it. Some executives prefer a regular scheduled meeting and some prefer a more fluid schedule. Find the right schedule for each individual client and then plan around that.
- Build a plan: regularly consider where your client may go next. How could they expand? How can you help them to achieve their future goals? Build plans and delight the client by presenting ideas regularly. Show that you are delivering for them today, but you want to be an integral part of their story tomorrow.
Your sales team needs to originally win the business, but once your prospect is your client the account management team becomes a critical tool to manage and create client loyalty.
Get in touch with ICON directly if you would like further examples or case studies about companies that have dramatically improved their inside sales process thought partnership with a BPO.