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It’s Monday morning you get to the office early and boom. Email is overloaded, task list has stacked up, you’ve been asked to attend four internal meetings, you need to create a client proposal by midday and your CRM sucks.
That sounds like a crappy fictional day right? Wrong. In fact that was my day once and it’s the general feeling a lot account management and sales professionals have in any given month.
What do you do with that?
Doing stuff is just part of the natural activity we do on a weekly basis. This is not the cause of loyalty but should be a set of intentional actions driven from something much more important. A helpful starter question is ‘how do we want to be experienced?’
Do you remember the first time you heard the phrase practice makes perfect?
That phrase carries a powerful truth. Those who embraced it worked their butts off to get better and it paid off, others were complacent and didn’t get the reward but there is a third group who also worked hard and only got marginally better.
I found that third group the most fascinating. It’s lead to stream of research over the last 20 years on the science and art of practice and performance. We see it in sales and account management today. Equally experienced professionals working hard but producing very different results. What are they working on?
Knowing your customer is critical to gaining influence and perspective. This helps you create value the market cannot do because of the access you have in your client relationship.
This is an important thought to consider. You have access your competitor wants and very few get. In conversations with sales leaders and key account managers today they intellectually understand the importance of knowing their customer and doing the proactive research. Many when pushed for a clear reason for what they research and why. The majority struggle for an answer.
Have you ever come out of a client meeting and wondered “I’m not sure where this is going?”
We can often go from client conversation to client meeting to client conversation thinking we know what we want. If we’re honest we get distracted by the next sale and never really answer the question. Where do I want to go with this client?
Clients today have new and shifting expectations of value, relationships, service and outcomes. Many of us have no idea what this is and therefore aren’t meeting it.
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Believe it or not when I was 25 I had never read a book on personal development. I had been married almost two years, had my first son, moved back to the UK from the US to start a brand new role and life if I’m honest was a flurry of confusion.
Before being introduced to the great Stephen Covey book 7 habits I remember hearing a CD (Yes CD) by a guy named Brian Tracy. I entered a world I never knew existed. It was almost like going through the wardrobe in the Narnia Chronicles. The language and people I saw were different and unlike those I had met before.
I know you’ve got 99 other problems and I’m adding one. What if you could eliminate 50% of your client challenges by focusing on one thing? If you're interested this post is worth paying attention too and will help you discover what that one thing is to shift your results.
What you do with your customers attention matters more than the time not spent. At first reading this sentence sounded strange to me when I was told it. For most account reps, consultants and sales professionals we're encouraged to get more face time.
More face time is hardly a measure of productive work that increases sales opportunity and lifetime value.
In most cases your clients are dealing with hundreds of other providers and being pitched to constantly with sales calls. What will seriously keep them from taking that dark road to another provider?
Here’s the truth: Not all clients are created equal. I bet you can immediately think of the one client you dread to see and the one that brings you absolute joy to do what you do.
The reality is this: The results and relationships you get from each of those two very different clients are equal to this one trait.
Your ability to communicate and deliver consistent value that matters to those clients weekly.
Have you ever been held by a fear so great that you expected it would be there forever. That was my story with swimming and it shaped every interaction I had around water for 20 years. Something dramatic changed when my daughters life was in danger and this is my story.
Today negotiation has evolved again. This time with a greater understanding of the science behind decision making and the changes in buyer personas. Negotiation today is not about strength but rather psychology. The number one contributor to successful negotiation may not be what you think.
What are some of the most important questions you should be considering today as account manager, key account manager, account executive, consultant about your customers? You probably already ask great questions but what if there was one fundamental question that could help lead you into a new thinking to give you great sales and relationship results. Check out the post to see how.
The toughest problems are not solved in isolation there solved with others
Among the top skills for key account managers one which I believe is underrated and unappreciated is the ability to collaborate and lead teams to solve big problems faster, create more value than any other business for their customer and help their company build a culture that is focused on genuinely help each other win.
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘be so good they can’t ignore you’? The quote is from the legendary comedian Steve Martin but was popularised by the author Cal Newport.
I’ve read both Cal’s books ‘So good they can’t ignore you’ which looks at the importance of discovering your passion through mastering a skill that’s valuable and ‘Deep work’ which discusses the ability to focus without distraction for results on cognitively demanding task.
The connection between ‘being so good they can’t ignore you’ and ‘the ability to focus on that which matters most with distraction’ fits a great model for key account philosophy.
I received a phone call from a trainer I know named Michael from Germany on the 16th of September. His voice was steady but I could sense some urgency in his voice. After the brief hello and how are you he asked if I could fly to Germany and then to Denmark in the next 2 weeks and that’s where the fun began.
Michael was working with a large global chemicals manufacturer. They were on the verge of potentially losing a customer worth 50 million dollars. He was heading a negotiation with the customer who was positioned to change suppliers and his clients take a significant loss. This was a big deal.
Over time you can discover that where your customer wants to go isn't always where you are going. Sometimes they pivot faster than you're able to innovate. Other times it can feel like your managing a completely different client with very different needs and requirements than what you began with.
I began to notice this mild case of customer schizophrenia in my sales career but it never became clearer until helping my own clients with their close customers.
I’ve discovered the “five customer relationship personas” that describes who your clients need you to be at different stages of your customer relationships. This will also help you to know who you client needs you to be.
If you thought you sucked at prioritisation and time management think again. If there was a most wanted list a 2 years ago I'd probably be in the top three.
It was by share force of effort and working insane hours that I got things done. It wasn't sustainable, effective or the highest possible value it should've been. Despite being the top sales and account manager for 6 years running. Every week I was exhausted.