We’re in day 2 of the conundrums series and this question was from Lissana in Romania
I have too many accounts to manage and not enough time.
This is a very controversial subject faced by a number of account managers and key account managers. Based on recent surveys of account management and key account management one of the biggest reason for poor results is lack of focus on the right accounts. I’m not going to jump into that debate today. Instead I want to focus on the reality for most account managers. That reality is you’ll have to deal with the clients.
Managing multiple accounts can create the feeling of needing to work on them all, even when you know the returns aren't great. The question of ‘What if they buy?’ haunts our minds as sales professionals and we dont like to miss out on potential opportunities.
Haven’t we all felt that way in our career in sales at some point? We’re trying to juggle every account, without really considering if the fit is really there for you and the clients you manage.
Admittedly, I didn’t get the chance to dig deeper into the question of 'too many accounts' with Lissana. There were three things I shared with her that you may take something from.
There are never too many accounts just divided priorities
This may sound controversial. Just because those accounts are there it doesn’t mean you have to pour your time into them. In fact over time you’ll notice you’ll spend more time with those clients that yield greater results for you. That makes perfect sense. The key thought here is not to find ways to ignore or get rid of accounts but reframing your thinking. Reframe your thinking to include three statements evaluating
- who could you help most today
- who is actually ready for help today
- who might be open for help today
If you keep an honest pipeline you’ll have some clarity on who those potential clients might be and why. Once you do, simple focus intentional effort on moving those clients that you could help most today and are ready for help. You may already know who those clients are. Deepen those relationships and maximise the mutual benefit of working with them.
Be prepared to stand your ground and justify your choices
In an internal sales meeting, at a board or executive meeting you’ll have to stand and present on whats working, what isn’t, and why particular accounts aren’t buying. Your managers, directors will respect you more if you have a thought out plan for 5 accounts than not much of a plan for 10 accounts. If you really want to reduce the amount of clients you’re working with. Put in the time to create a clear proposal for growth on those identified clients that will buy vs those you believe will not yield the best return of your time.
Look for creative ways to manage low level relationships
Before you take point two and run with it I have to ask the question: What else have you considered to best manage the accounts you have? This is where a great CRM can be a real asset. You can set automated email with ways for your client to book an appointment or service with you. If that isn’t the reality for you. Here is one way I've used successfully to nurture low level relationships without huge demands on my time:
Note: Set aside once a month to send something of value and arrange a specific call to get to know them. I realise scheduling can be time consuming. Let’s just say you can schedule in 30min-hour a month. When you send your message be open and transparent and say you would like to work more with them but would like to get to know them and their business better. I’ve seen this work powerfully for others. Be persistent and commit to doing it for at least 6 months. Overtime you’ll know if they’re really not interested or you’ll discover where you can actually help to move them to an account you’d want to invest time with.
- What did you take away from these three ideas?
- What is your perspective on multiple accounts in key account management?
If you’d like to connect with me Join over 100 account management and key account management professionals and look me at www.jermaineedwards.com or SIGN UP to the Key Account Hack client insight list with others like you wanting to take their client sales to a new level. Click Here