A key issue for many B2B organisations is they don’t have a formalised account management structure in place. Regular customer contact? Of course they can do that. Tracking how much budget the customer might have? They can do that too. Informing the marketing team when they spot an opportunity for a client to buy a new product or service? Yes, yes, they are more than capable. But do they actually do and track all of these things?
Account management isn’t just about the customer relationship – it needs to be a process that underpins the customer relationship and something that can be measured and managed. Proactive account management is about planning and monitoring customer engagement, ultimately to help you keep that customer on board and up / cross-sell other products and services to them.
Four tips for good account management:
- A tiering system: with all the good will in the world, a customer who pays £2000 a year should not receive the same level of service as a customer who pays £22,000 a year. If a company has 1000 customers and five account managers, it is not feasible for all customers to receive the same level of service. Tiering customers will give you insight into the areas you need to focus on and enable you to create an approach for each tier. The profile might include how much budget the customer currently spends, potential revenue and other products or services they might be interested in. This intelligence can inform marketing activity directed at the customer. You could consider developing a different marketing approach altogether for your Tier 1 accounts, including an Account Based Marketing (ABM) plan for the one or two accounts that have strong growth potential.
- Are you talking my language? Part of having a cohesive process for dealing with customers is for everyone to use the same terminology. So if you talk about a “tier one” client or a client being “at risk,” everyone knows what it means, whether they are in sales or work in finance or marketing.
- Best practice customer management: customer profiling and proactive Account Management will lead to establishing best practice. For example, the company might decide the best approach to engage tier one customers is a monthly face to face meeting. Tier two customers might warrant a quarterly face to face meeting and monthly calls. This should be adopted across all tier one and tier two accounts. If this process is defined and documented, the team knows what to deliver and customers know what to expect.
- Measurement and evaluation: Account managers should always track and measure against Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to ensure the business is delivering. regular customer success reviews and satisfaction surveys is a great way to do this and will identify any problem areas (which can be addressed quickly) and flag up cross selling opportunities.
A strong customer relationship management strategy – supported by the right technology – will really help you to embed a proactive account management structure within your business. It’s not that having those relationships with customers isn’t good enough – that’s really valuable – but it’s about formalising and professionalising how your company approaches customer management.