If you’ve been in sales, account management or Key Account Management for any amount of time you’ll immediately realise one thing. You have to be a master problem solver.
Everything you think wont happen will and everything you think will might be worse. The opposite is true in sales as well as we get the great with the grim. That’s just life. This week is dedicated to those Key Account Conundrums we face in sales. This tricky situations we have to thrive or fail with.
This was spurred on by a series of five questions I had from a few Key Account managers last week. All very different and worth their own spot light.
This week I’m going to cover questions like:
- I have too many accounts
- What do you do when you know the client you have is no longer the right fit
- What do you do when you have legacy pricing agreements and get beat down by procurement
- What do you do if you believe your company really can’t add any more value than it does
If your specific challenge doesn’t come up I want to know about it. I'm here to serve and add value to you.
Today’s question is from Tom
My clients business is being taken over. They say it’s still business as usual but orders have slowed down. What would you do?
I wonder if you’ve ever come to these cross roads because I certainly have. It’s not a straightforward situation as there are many functions of decisions being made in the background. When a company is being taken over it’s never immediate and can in most cases take up to a year depending on the size of business, the complexity and type of takeover. If you ever find yourself in this position there are three things you should do immediately.
Check the news. Takeovers are not secret they are very public and you’ll be surprised how much you can discover. Here’s what to look for. Look for why the takeover is happening. As this will tell you something about where the company wants to go, what competitive advantage it wants to enhance, what market segments it’s trying to penetrate and in some cases the impact to staff (are high level people leaving, do they have plans to consolidate) all this information can help form a picture that you can then go to clarify in step 2.
Have an honest conversation with your client and get really specific with the types of questions you’ll ask. This will enable you to best understand what the current buying priority and concerns are. Ask questions like
- How do you believe then next few months might impact the way our product or services is used or purchased?
- Based on the people we serve how best could we support you and them?
- What would be the worst case scenario when it comes to how we do business together currently?
If you’ve done a little bit of background reading you can ask some very well informed questions. Don’t be surprised if your client isn’t aware of what you’ve researched. What you’re doing is something most don’t. They’ll appreciate it if shared in a way of helping them. Remember all this must be done with some sensitive and rapport. During times of takeover or merger there is sometimes great uncertainty about job security.
Get proactive – you need to double your activity and follow up more often than you do. Why? during periods like this is where change can happen quickly. I’ve personally seen it where 2-3 of main contacts within a few months were made redundant. Keeping the pulse and expanding your circle of conversations to managers and end user will be critical. Stay positive and keep persistent and you’ll be well ahead of every other supplier they have.
There are no easy roads to success. The more intentional you are the greater chance of success and in many cases strengthening the relationship with your customers.
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
Jermaine Edwards - Your customer growth guide