Day 3 of the conundrums series and this was a tricky one. A question from Sam in Czech Republic.
What do you do with an account that needs a more innovative product that you don't have but they're a really big client?
I got the chance to speak with Sam to gain more clarity on this. In the case of Sam, his client made a complete 360 turn away from in house paper production to outsource and digital services which their company didn’t provide as it's specialty. They’re still in conversation but the reality they've got a lot of thinking to do.
I added this question because I believe it’s relevant to many account managers and key account managers out there. What happens when a client pivots and you haven’t? what if what you have on offer is no longer as relevant to your customer?
If you're like Sam and experiencing this today I’d like to help by sharing three questions I asked him and the management. I hope this will enable you to help your business think about how you might respond in this situation. By no means are these the only things to consider but it will get you started in the right direction.
Is this pivot about them or your industry?
Important question to consider because if this move is about your industry. That's a question of your businesses seriousness to compete. Unless you have a really defined and differentiated niche and value of service you'll be in trouble. It wont be long before your other clients take the leap as well. If this is just about this client then it's important not be reactive and move impulsively out of fear. First really get to understand what has brought this change, where is your client heading? what of your products or services are still relevant? As you can see there is a whole list of things. As a Key Account Manager the more proactive you can be gathering the right information, the more credible and persuasive you'll be, when presenting to management or senior directors in your business.
Does this pivot fit in with your core message and offering?
I get it. We can all become very attached to the clients we work with and it's hard. No one wants to have that feeling of a client slipping through our fingers. The solution can seem easy. Just give them what they want! In sales it's about what's best for the customer but you also have to be aware of what you don't do, what you can do and what you're willing to do. This comes down to one thing. Does this pivot fall into your core message? that one thing you help solve for your customer that they came to you first for. If not don't chase it but you might want to explore partnerships which is a whole new blog. If yes,but not yet, then you need to be honest with your customer. Share your plans and where the business is headed if possible. But, be prepared that they may not wait. This doesn't mean they're a completely lost customer this is about being who you say you are and your client will respect you for it. You'll recover.
Do you have the capacity and resource to produce what they actually want?
I've seen this blow up in many businesses faces. A promise here, a quick solution made up there presented it to the client in a nice bow. Sound familiar? that is not a way to manage or treat your customers. In the end it will only damage your reputation and brand. If you determined what your client actually wants you can then more accurately consider the actual resources you have vs the gap. Then what would need to be different to fill that gap? You don't have to produce everything just the thing they actually want. Think creatively on behalf of your customer. Instead of looking at the solution in one way look at the potential opportunities to solve it in a way that yields the greatest return for you and your customer. Try brain showers with your team, managers, marketing or technical departments to discover those ideas. When you have a collective of people bought in from the business your more likely to see change happen.
- What are thoughts on this subject?
- Did anything strike you as something i've missed or you would ellaborate on?
Let me know
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