This is a guest post by Julian Hooks, originally published on Tenfold’s blog. Hooks shares six tips on how to leverage account management to achieve sales success.
Businesses these days put a lot of importance on customer experience–using it to gauge if they are doing better than their competitors. They use industry statistics and customer surveys as means to gather data like preferences and demands customers want from their company. More often than not, customers have requests that are beyond the scope of what the company can actually deliver. This has created a huge demand for account managers whose main task is to act as the bridge between customers and businessmen. Account managers or AMs function as the company’s front-liners; having direct contact with clients to determine their needs and communicate with the businesses’ decision-makers so they can develop products and services to address demands. Their role as a go-between is very crucial and their skills should be well developed to achieve success. Below are some of the valuable tips from experienced sales experts that will be helpful for account managers to be more efficient on the job.

1. Pay attention to the customer

Account managers should make it a point to listen to their client’s requests and cross-check if the demands could be delivered based on the available resources of their company. This will entail paying attention to all of your customer’s expressed and unspoken needs. When clients express their feedback on the customer experience, they exhibit their basic emotions – whether they are happy or unhappy with the communication and service they receive. By being sensitive to these emotions, AMs will be able to determine what are their clients’ concerns or problems and get down to the bottom line of their causes. Acknowledging these needs and emotions and creating the appropriate actions in response to these requests are the keys to acquiring clients and gaining customer loyalty.

2. Identifying your Key Customers

Not all accounts are the same so they demand different amounts of attention. A smart AM knows which accounts to keep and prioritize. It is not only about which account brings in more profit for the company. There are accounts which the AM considers as key earners or the stellar performers in their business portfolio. These clients share a common goal with the AM and are willing to develop a lasting partnership with them. Choose just a few key accounts to focus on and base on these the development of account management programs and frameworks for effective management. These accounts will set the trend in attracting your potential clients with the same goals.

3. Discover customer preferences

The secret to consistent revenue is customer satisfaction and repeat business. Once you keep customers happy, they will always come back for more. This generates a consistent flow of income for your business. The moment you attain customer satisfaction for an account should be considered the actual point of initial sale. When customers are deciding on what to buy, there are a lot of factors that they consider. By discovering the factors that affect their decision-making are, the AM will be able to remove all the hindrances that keep the customers from buying. Value is only delivered through the product if it answers to all of the client’s needs and concerns. The minute your customers are fully satisfied, you are guaranteed repeat business.

4. Do your homework

Research. This is important if you want to know your customers better and win business. Use all the information you have gathered during lead generation and the sales process so far. Do extensive research about the latest market trends and customer feedback. An excellent AM is up to date with the background of their target markets and the business climate of their client’s industry. Business owners want the assurance that the AM is competent in handling them because of their familiarity with the customers and the business.

5. Hire and train the right staff

Effective account management involves the efficient delegation of tasks. When the business starts expanding, you will need to employ more account managers– and you need to choose the right candidates that fit the bill. First, think of the designation or the role they need to perform. Then set the standards in choosing the AM like their experience, skill sets, etc. Don’t assume that the candidate excels in selling is the best person to choose and that it will be easy to just transition them into an AM position. Sometimes that is not the case. The scope of duties of an AM can be overwhelming and complicated that they have to be trained using the best practices of account management.

6. Follow through with your collaboration

Now that the AM has identified the customer’s needs and has developed a plan for the solution of customer’s problems, they have to follow through with the execution of this plan. The AM is the machinery behind the movement from customer service to the sales force. They have to follow up with their accounts and connect with the different segments of the company. That means they have to work with the production department, marketing team, advertisers up to the delivery staff to make sure all of these departments collaborate in the delivery of excellent service. The AM should be able to overview all of their team actions. Below is the example of a collaborative table from RowShare, that allows to collect and centralize information: clients needs, action, timeline, etc, which is useful for the AM to follow up their team actions easier.