Last month, I met a very soft-spoken executive - Patrick, who leads the Key Account sales globally for an IT Services and Consulting firm. This meeting was about to change the way I looked at Key Account Management. I always knew Key Account Management helped in revenue growth, but that day I came to know its true potential.We met in downtown Manhattan at Pete’s Coffee shop.
As the CEO of a company that built KAM enablement technology, I was excited about this meeting. So, I came early, took a two-seater table in a quiet corner, and waited for him to arrive. My eyes glanced out the window and noticed the people outside. He arrived. We ordered our coffee - I took my favorite Hazelnut latte, and we went back to the corner I had reserved.
Patrick flew into New York to attend his company’s Q4 board meeting but graciously spared an afternoon to catch up with me. We talked a lot - from the cold summers of San Francisco to the Jets preparation for the upcoming SuperBowl. But, I could not help notice the palpable stress on Patrick’s face.
When I asked, he shrugged it off by mentioning the usual pressure of business growth. I asked again, “What is keeping your mind occupied, Patrick? Did everything go well at the meeting?” He opened up a bit.
“Our next year goals are now more focused on profitability, so I have to find a way to grow the business by 18% in 2017 without increasing the costs of new account acquisition”, he replied. “Hmm, isn’t that the puzzle most CEOs and sales leaders grappling with?”, I questioned. He nodded, and said, “For businesses such as mine, with several multi-million dollar clients, it sounds less like a puzzle and more like rhetoric”. He continued, “We have made maximum in-roads with our major accounts by utilizing the information in our Salesforce CRM”.
I immediately asked, “Why don’t you adopt Strategic Account Management as a standard practice for your larger accounts. The methodology and processes are well established now”. It looked like this was something on his mind already. He replied “I know KAM can help, but I am not sure what is the best way to do it. With Salesforce, we know how to make decisions for sales planning. Without any means to know which levers to pull within complex Key Accounts, how will I even propose institutionalizing Key Account management process within my organization”
I instantly understood Patrick’s dilemma. He was aware of the importance of KAM technology but also knew that mere CRM cannot show him the path to nurture his Key Accounts and farm them for more revenue. I did not have the answer then. Soon after, Patrick left, and I walked back to Times Square.
I kept thinking. Why were sales leaders not thinking in terms of technologies that can enable KAMs, just like CRMs help in sales enablement? Seemed like I had gotten a hangover of Patrick’s dilemma. As I walked into the Times Square, I was stopped by a giant screaming display of T-mobile’s 4G network.
The display showcased T-mobile’s 4G technology, which enabled people to do more!“This is it”, I said to myself. “This is the gap which Patrick wants to fill”. Just like the 4G network, Patrick needs a technology that can help him institutionalize Key Account Management in his organization.
To enable his KAM teams to navigate the complex ecosystem of large accounts. Now, I became optimistic! Perhaps, KAM enablement is the answer to Patrick and many such B2B leaders, who need an intelligent layer above industry-standard CRMs to power their decision making in Account Management. That night, I slept well, knowing that there is true potential for institutionalizing KAM in large organizations using key account management tools.
What is KAM Enablement?
Think of KAM Enablement as James Bond’s Q. We see a KAM as a hero who accomplishes highly complex and uncertain objective of growing Key Account revenues year-on-year. He needs an intelligent aide to achieve his goals in a more deterministic manner.
KAM enablement is a means to support KAMs in making decisions regarding their Key Accounts. While industry-standard CRMs do a great job as storage, retrieval, and high-level, averages-based analytics of the information, KAM enablement technology acts as an add-on layer on top of the CRM and processes the existing information to support deeper-level decision-making regarding Key Accounts.
As important as Key Accounts are for an organization (80% revenues coming from 20% accounts), the future sales opportunities cannot be left at the mercy of a KAM’s behavior (what if he leaves your company), or the ability of the people to analyze all the information stored in the CRM.
Enablement technology in 2017 is the precursor to Artificial Intelligence-driven CRMs - already talked about by Salesforce founder and CEO - Marc Benioff. Read this article for more info. I would paraphrase Marc Benioff here: The goal with SalesForce Einstein is to know what customers want before they know it.
Eventually, we are also headed there, just that we started with the particular niche to serve KAMs. At DemandFarm, we built a technology that uses advanced algorithms to churn the existing information in the industry-standard CRMs (such as SalesForce, Microsoft Dynamics) to uncover unparalleled insights into your Key Accounts’ needs. Learn more about how KAM Enablement will help you grow your business in 2017. Download the e-book here.