Strategic Account Management
How to move from “supplier” to “strategic partner”.
It is widely accepted that selling new products and/or services to your existing accounts, is far easier than going and finding new accounts. Not only will this safeguard your recurring income, it gives you the opportunity to sell more to your current customers. Even better, great customer service promotes word of mouth referrals.
Some reports suggest that the cost of securing a new customer is as much as 22 times greater than selling to a current one. Whatever the number, the bottom line is that once you have a customer or client, it is very important to retain them – but that is easier said than done.
What is “Strategic Account Management”
It’s about forming a true business partnership with your most important customers.
There is no hard & fast rule about which customers should be deemed “strategic”, it’s up to you.
Typically, the criteria would include sales value, margin, prestige, reputation, influence, potential, etc.
One key consideration is that the customer must be willing and able to discuss things at a strategic level. Not all of them will. You may have a customer that delivers very high sales for you, but they act like a trader. For them it’s all about the price and the deal at the time. They are still important, but they are not a Strategic Account.
How to manage them
First and foremost, you need to develop a detailed Strategic Account Plan. You need to know their business and markets inside and out. Not just at an operational level, but also at a strategic one – what are their long term goals, their key challenges, where do they want to be in 5-10 years?
Once you have a draft plan, share it with them. Get them to fill in the blanks (you are likely to have many of these to start!).
Then discuss what you can do to make THEM more successful. This can be a real cultural challenge, as most sales people focus on how they can sell more, rather than how they can help their customers. If you can get this right, it will dramatically change the relationship you have with your customers.
strategic account plans
It is essential that for each Strategic Account, you have a Strategic Account Plan.
Unlike traditional account plans, a Strategic Account Plan should focus much more on the customer’s business and needs, than your own objectives. After all, it’s all about helping to make them more successful (and you will reap the benefits in return).
Shoodan has developed a Strategic Account Plan that we believe represents best practice. It has been developed using decades of real world experience and will help you to make step jump in managing your most important customers.
strategic account managers
Most Account Managers are very comfortable talking at an operational level, less so when it comes to discussing strategy. This is hardly surprising, since the strategy discussions in their own business tend to be remit of Senior Management.
The challenge therefore is giving them the correct skills and techniques that will allow them to make the step up to Strategic Account Management.
Whilst training courses can be useful, in our experience, the most effective way is to show them how it works in front of real customers. This can be done by the Sales Leader / Business Leader, or you could use a third party facilitator, such as Shoodan, to help.
How we can help
Shoodan has many years of experience managing and transforming Strategic Accounts (including Global Accounts).
We can run workshops to you help you understand the Strategic Account Planning process or we can work with you to create your own plans and even come with you to customers to help bring your new plans to life.
Whatever you need, we are here to help.
Get In Touch
+44 (0) 7799 627901