It is often too risky or even hazardous to make predictions about the future these days. The pace of change is so fast and the possibility of disruption so high that divining the future would be impossible even for Nostradamus.
But let me hazard a guess on the future of Key Account Management!
Relationship Myths of B2B Key Account Management
I always believed that the role of ‘relationship’ was misconstrued by many with respect to strategic account management. Relationships don’t give us business. The communication and delivery of ‘value’ build relationships and that in turn allows us to find more value creation opportunities.
The myth of wining and dining or taking a corporate box in a baseball game to build relationships with clients will certainly be busted in the near future.
Social Media’s Role in Key Account Management
OK, I am sticking my neck out here. Simply because social media marketing has been the buzzword for practically the past decade! To acquire new customers and to create awareness social media is a great place. But that is sales and marketing.
On the other hand, if you go by the purist definition of Key Account Management where its role is played out in existing strategic accounts, social media has practically no role. An account manager should be able to reach out directly to contact(s) in existing accounts for any info, intelligence, changes or even landscape.
If an account manager is relying on social media for KAM, then s(he) is on the wrong foot already.
Technological Impact on Key Account Management
No discussion about the future is complete without understanding how technology can impact it.
Finally, we are seeing, at least for simpler, low-value products – software has replaced human beings for generating top of the funnel (ToFu) leads and also to push them to the middle of the funnel (MoFu). However, human beings are still needed to handhold the leads from the middle to the bottom of the funnel.
Account Management comes in after the customer is acquired, which is beyond even the bottom of the funnel; especially for complex high-value solutions. Therefore, I can safely predict that software will not replace key account managers for at least the next 4 years.
In fact, the role of key account management software will only increase. What will they do best?
- Provide a single platform for all critical key account data (opportunities, contacts, account plans, org charts, account intelligence)
- Enable better collaboration
- Helps in institutionalizing key account management across the organization
- Provide insights by analyzing aggregated key account plan data
Basically, technology will facilitate key account planning and execution to make it much simpler.
But what about Artificial Intelligence? Can a humanoid with AI replace key account managers soon?
If you’re curious to understand how Artificial Intelligence could possibly impact Key Account Management do take a look at my blog here.
Platforms to Watch Out For
I think B2B key account management software will increasingly be embedded in Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics platforms. With Salesforce undoubtedly being the world’s favorite CRM, it is highly improbable that people will be willing to purchase standalone key account management software.
But these are just my predictions and I just might be wrong. What do you think the future of B2B Key Account Management truly is?
What do you think, especially if you disagree? What are your predictions?