I've become fascinated with exploring and evaluating the skills, mindset and results of great sales professionals around the world. I get to speak with fascinating people. In the sales profession I often feel account management get the least amount of press. You rarely hear in business news about the amazing account manager who saved a key customer from going to a competitor. Account managers are sometimes the unseen heroes in the day to day customer nurturing grind.
Fundamentally I've become the trumpet sounder for the account manager and key account manager. Especially in today's connection economy where individualisation for customers is the extended expectation to personalisation.
At the front of those expectations are account managers. The definition and skills needed for account management are changing. There are 6 principle skills that are foundational to outstanding account management and seeing results that can transform a career, a company and customer relationships. Here they are.
Outstanding account managers are intentional. This is all driven from a place of clarity defined by a strategy that is aligned to get results that matter. Their plans integrate the goals and expectations of their clients, superiors and business while focusing on their own. They understand the daily implications and actions of their strategy and are locked in daily to achieve it while still be agile to unforeseen circumstances. They always have a contingency.
What has fascinated me about account management is the idea of getting to the truth with our customers. Outstanding account managers recognise to get to truth with their customers they must arrive with no agenda. They look through the eyes of their customers to see their fears, desires and goals. Once they do they get closer to what I call the 'truth zone'. The place where the customer feels safe. Safe enough to tell them what matters most and also who the account manager and their company need to be in order to become who they need now and tomorrow. Account managers who are truth finders do this from a place of security, opportunity and can quickly become trusted adviser.
Value creators and value adders
For the last year I've made real distinctions around value. The value you deliver must have an intended result. The type of value you deliver matters. Outstanding account managers know this and look for opportunities where the value they deliver moves a sale, a relationship or solution forward. Adding value and creating value for your customers is fundamentally different because they produce different customer responses. Great account managers recognise this and make those adjustments. You can read about this in more detail in a former post HERE
There is a lot to be said about communication. Outstanding account managers have an ability to observe the behaviours of their customers, see situations through the eyes of others and adjust the way they communicate to meet their goals. Their communication is subtle and confident never overbearing and reflects the words and opinions of others so those around them feel heard.
Outstanding account managers recognise that trust is on a continuum. Its not a place you arrive at but there are moments and metrics in the customer relationship that tell them their relationships are moving in the right direction. They show up practicing being present because they realise that trust is first built on seeking to understand then to be understood. They under promise and over deliver and are values driven. The serve first and take fear off the table through empathy. They know that without trust the other pieces fall down.
Outstanding account managers above everything produce results. They never make excuses when things don't go their way. They show up collaboratively looking for solutions and lead from a win win win philosophy so their company, their clients and they win in the process. They know that success can't be accomplished by accident. They make every effort to evaluate where they are, improve and discover repeatable success in the skills and experiences they have. They're constantly learning and win consistently more than the average.
What I didn't say at the beginning of this post is no one person has all these traits completely mastered. The true outstanding account manager is the one who knows he can never arrive but enjoys the journey of discovering his/her potential to grow, do and be more than they were yesterday.
If you're a key account manager with that desire get connected to my customer growth email list. If you're a sales leader lets talk about how we enable your team to deliver on these skills at a higher level. www.jermaineedwards.com
Founder of the Key Account Hack System - New Key Account thinking that transforms customer relationships and creates predictable sales growth.