One of the biggest dangers in any client relationship is the unknown of what our clients actually think about us. Knowing what their experience of you is, their likes and dislikes, frustrations and joys both past and present are critical. WHY? it means you can respond immediately to correct things that may damage your relationship and enhance those things that improve and deepen your relationship.
Even with this knowledge that is all so common, in account and Key Account Management many still struggle to make client relationships work. What is missing? or importantly what do customers think?
Clients perception of account management surveyed
According to research by renowned ‘Trusted Advisor’ author David Maister done almost 10 years ago many clients’ were unimpressed with current Key Account Management processes and engagement out there. A few common expressed concerns sited by David Maister are:
- They’re only interested in selling their services, not in solving our problems.
- They don’t do anything to make us feel that our business is important to them. We are taken completely for granted. They never call up to inquire how our business is doing. We only see them when they want to sell something.
- The quality of service is variable between departments and locations. We don’t have the patience for “adequate.” There’s no point courting us at HQ unless they’re impressing our people everywhere. We consult broadly with our executives before deciding whether to use them again.
- There are few signs that they’re really listening to us. They bring us generic issues faced by all companies. We want to hear about the specific opportunities for, and challenges facing, our company.
- We don’t want to be “romanced”: We already have many opportunities to go to fancy dinners or attend sporting events. They should focus on being useful to us, not on becoming our friends.
- Their main problem is at their junior level: More quality assurance is needed. We are skeptical about the value of a lot of what’s done by their junior people.
Although this survey was completed a number of years ago, recent movement in the customer success and sales world tells us these are still very strong factors. I want to highlight a couple of reasons why this might be.
- Increased channels to selling services such as email marketing, social media, product placement, and account management can lead to, a customer feeling that they are constantly being sold to even when your intentions are good.
- Clients still raise concerns today that they are looking for more than just something that is tailored. They’re looking for differentiated and personalised solutions and products that genuinely meet their needs. Very few companies put in the time to:
- Allocate the right resources and services for each customer,
- Deliver the right training and coaching for their account managers,
- Work on internal cohesion and collaboration to execute great service at all stages and levels with their customers
- Define the actual value their client is looking for
The result, is a barely satisfied client and a dangerous position for you as an account manager and business to be in.
Seeing the comments from Maister’s research may shock some, motivate others or simply cause you to roll your eyes with the old adage “they don’t really know what they want”. I beg to differ. Your customer may not know the specific product or solution they want right now, but they’re completely aware of what kind of service, result and relationships they want.
What do we do with these comments? If you had never seen these comments before, or feel you or your company may be guilty of some of them then now’s the time to act. Ask the hard questions now, get aligned now and get really intentional. Have a process that is teachable, repeatable and scalable. Until you better understand your customers, define their value perception and craft messages that matter to them you’ll always live with a ceiling on your sales growth.
- What strikes you from the client comments?
- What do you particularly resonate with or want to add to?
If you’d like to know more about how I teach a system for creating predictable high growth sales from your key customer relationships connect with me at http://www.jermaineedwards.com/get-in-touch/
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Jermaine - Founder of Key Account Hack System - Helping you retain your Key Accounts and grow sales from your high value customers