There are 3R’s that dominate the nature, nurture and flow of Key Account Managers and Account Managers around the world. We've all been through these three areas.
These 3R’s are Renew, Replace and Revive. Three stages that define different stages in your relationship and client conversations. I'd like to introduce these to you and help your success in those situations.
This is all about preparing to renew existing contracts. Importantly, ensuring you're maintaining the same level of consistency in sales from those clients important to you. Many of you will be pretty good at renewals and maintaining year on year sales. The reality is even the best of us don’t always see growth or the same level of sales from every key client we work with. Here are three approaches you can take to significantly improve your results in successful renewal:
- Set the expectation of renewal with your client from the beginning, in the middle and at least 3 months before the new contract begins. If you don’t already have fixed contracts in place you’ll need to be intentional. Talk to your client about how you can get the right budget in place, understand the scale of requirements as early as possible to build in contingency and urgency if needed.
- Make sure you and your business are ready for renewal. Make sure you're aware of any possible changes in your business that may affect the shape, development and delivery of your product or service promise. If so you need to communicate this early to the client to ensure they are not met with disappointment.
- Be excellent at everything concerning your client from the beginning. If at any point in time you feel the quality of the service or product has dipped, you need to act quickly. Connect collaboratively with your team, manager and business. Explain the implications of not delivering and the ways to solve it. Everything needs to be aligned to help manage, and secure future business with your client. You need to be the main driver of this.
This is where you notice a particular revenue stream is drying up. A legacy contract is about to end or a service or product isn’t as relevant to your client. The main focus here is, you have to find another revenue stream to replace the one that is drying up or about to stop completely. Here are three things you can implement today if you’re in the Replace position:
- Begin to speak to departments that are not using your service but may benefit from other services you have. This is where knowing your product/service well makes a difference to identifying the ideal customer within your clients business. Once you know who to speak with target your messaging for those sales conversations and get proactive.
- Go to your contact, be honest, open and also find out why this change might be happening. Work out with your client where else you might continue to deliver value for them based on their new needs today.
- Be proactive and use the data and information you have on your client to uncover opportunities to help and add value. You may have information on concerns or challenges they’ve shared with you in the past. Is there an opportunity to create something personalised for your client and driven for their business? This may not work for every business. It will depend on the level of innovation, in some cases R&D available to make this happen. Sometimes it can be something as simple as an executive report, looking at ROI and ways to help them measure success. What can you do as extra?
This is one of the most challenging places to be when a client relationship seems to be failing. Whether this is because of a broken relationship, reorganisation of companies or competitive pressure. This is about the opportunities and approaches you can apply to improve your chance of reviving those clients. Here are three successful approaches for you to consider:
- I made a comment in the last section around honest conversations. The same starts here. Clarify what you believe has happened. Name the elephant in the room and get it out in the open. What’s getting in the way of you doing business? And be ready to feel uncomfortable.
- Identify those ways to rebuild, re-mend those relationships. Ask your client, but be prepared that you might not get a positive response. Take your time and craft really specific questions that get you answers that matter. Do this with empathy and sensitivity. Refer to my post on questions here for support in this.
- Create massive action and bring that information back to your manager, the business, or whoever you believe could support you. Get a plan going to demonstrate to your customer that you’ll be putting things right. Don’t hold back on making this very visible to the client and making this known. Go over and beyond what they’d expect or even hope for from you. With these approaches you'll be in a much stronger position to get on track but there is no sure remedy for building a damaged relationship. Be patient, persistent and consistent.
9 ways in which you can go and engage with your customers at 3 different stages in your customer relationships and conversations. The action for you is to identify if you’re at any of these places with your customer and apply these things today.
Thanks for reading
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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