The one common mistake many organizations, both small and big tend to make and repeat, is to treat all their accounts the same. It is never too late, however, to correct the situation and start looking at your account types more closely. You will notice, there is a key difference in the account types, organizations like yours, have in their portfolio. Largely, accounts can be divided into two key categories- the Key Accounts and the Regular Accounts. Each of these two categories needs a different management style, system, and people. An Account Management process is required to manage Key Accounts, which require more nurturing and attention than normal accounts.
Let’s look at why these two categories are different and to be treated differently.
High-Value and High-Volume
Your Key Accounts are the high-value accounts. So, the number of projects or tasks or transactions you win from each of these accounts may be small, but the value of each of these transactions is big. Whereas your regular accounts, maybe many in number, and each may give you, a large number of projects or transactions, but the value from each is smaller. Such accounts are therefore popular for their volumes.
What is important is to remember that both types of accounts are important to your business, only that, you need to manage both differently.
Customer-centric and Transaction-centric Accounts
The high-value accounts are your customer-centric account, that is, the focus is on building a long-lasting relationship with the customer. These accounts usually have a longer buying lifecycle and hence, repeat orders may be fewer; but the value for each of these orders makes up for everything. The customer becomes the key here and more so, your relationship mapping with him. Trust is never easily won and needs to be maintained and built upon. These high-value accounts are important to your overall business plan. The other type of accounts is the transaction-centric accounts, where each transaction is important. Here, the transaction is not high in value, but the number of transactions is more important. Repeat business takes center-stage and that is the sales team’s objective.
While managing the customer-centric accounts, your brief to the sales team should be to nurture the relationship of your KAs (Key Accounts) and in the transaction-centric accounts, your brief should be to increase the value of each transaction.
Personalized and Automated Accounts
Automation is the name of the game today and helps your transaction-centric accounts when it comes to being regularly updated about their purchases, stocks available, lead time and service issues if any. These are RAs (Regular Accounts) who have established a certain sense of comfort and rhythm for you and with you and can be managed through an automated system with minimal personal interaction. On the other hand, are your KAs who need personal and personalized interaction at all times and at every stage of your journey together. They should also be on your automated system but only so long as it helps them to function uninterrupted in matters that are more operational. Key Accounts need to be handled with TLC of the professional kind; you need to invest in the relationship by meeting them personally, understanding their needs and exceeding their expectations. Key Accounts need frequent and regular personal attention; if you take this as a non-negotiable in your business plan, you will go far with your KAs.
F2F and F2A Accounts
Face2Face or F2F is the nature of the interaction with your KAs and F2A (Face to Automated System) is the nature of your RAs. The main objective of your KAs needs to be personal and interactive in almost real-time; whereas the main objective for your RAs needs to be largely data-based. The course of your interaction with your RAs will be decided on the numbers that the automated system throws up, but your KAs will have to be more qualitative in nature. KAs is about managing relationships and RAs are about managing numbers.
The famous management rule applies in this case too, where 80 % of your profit will come from 20% of your accounts, which are your KAs and 20% of your profit will come from 80% of your accounts, your RAs. What resources to invest and how and where, are the key questions you have to handle. Automated systems will work best for the 80% of your accounts – RAs, whereas, you can safely invest and focus your personal time on 20% of your KAs.
Knowing and serving these two different account types is the key to maximizing the potential of your sales force. It will pay to look at specialized Key Account Management Softwares to help you mine your Key Accounts and enrich your relationship for the long term.
Read our blog on Strategic Account Management.