The title may make it all sound easy and that the Key Account Management process can be created in 9 easy steps. But as you may already know it isn’t that simple. However, the sooner begun, the better done.
Let’s cut to the chase and start knocking out the 9 steps easy and quick. The 9 steps go over planning, setting up, implementing and reviewing a key account management process.
Step 1: Portfolio vis-à-vis profits
Every business decision needs to be weighed and analyzed for its ability to make a profit. Similarly, the portfolio that will come under the purview of the Key Account Management process needs to be analyzed. You need to make sure that the business sectors and lines that you are in. are deliberately chosen. You need to know why they are chosen and whether they are there for their profit-making capabilities.
In business, there is no room for happenstance or chance. Every decision has to be a deliberate one.
Step 2: Understanding the Customer entirely
Dissecting the customer on a whiteboard is a good idea and this will help you know who your customers are.
Who is an ideal customer and which customer is not that great? What makes them either of these? What are their needs – specify them? What are their loves and pet peeves – professionally and in terms of your products? How much are they worth to your business? Detail their behavior patterns when they make key decisions regarding your product or category- new buys, renewals, moving to a competitor? Why do customers buy from you? What are their deepest fears, issues, and challenges?
Remember, God is in the details!
Step 3: Relationship X-Ray
A relationship scan is always good to maintain the health of the relationship or improve it. Where does your relationship with your customer (Key Account) stand? How is it seen within your department and within the organization? Do you have the right talent mix within your team to service these customers? Can you accurately or at least closely put a number on the longevity of the relationship, are you aware of the issues involved and the history? How are your key accounts distributed percentage-wise, in your total share? Do you have data and insights on possible opportunities for developing more business?
Step 4: Draw up a Key Account Plan Blueprint
This blueprint should clearly state the main direction, opportunities, and priorities for each Key Account. It should have a direct link to customer information and should be built as a collaborative effort between internal and external stakeholders. This should then be made available and accessible to all involved in the account. It is a good idea to check if you have had the customer involved and if he has been cued into this plan. You will also need to be clear which information is important and which is not; also be clear about the source of this information and have it regularly updated.
After the 4 steps in our earlier blog, the key is to get into action and have a clear plan. This should include:
* What needs to be done
* By when (clear timelines need to be specified and agreed upon and followed)
* Who will be involved and who takes ownership?
* How will results or success be defined, measured, reviewed and communicated?
* What’s your troubleshooting plan?
* What are the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved?
* What is the escalation POA? Last-minute crisis in case the account is in danger?
Step 6: Resource Planning and Audit
Once you define what the Key Account needs, you will need to work on a resource plan and audit periodically. This will determine how many resources you will need and which skill sets each of them is to have. Are there any specific skill sets required for specific key accounts, then what are those?
A periodical resource audit will help review, revise, revamp and ramp up the resource base to ensure delivery of the Key Account objectives. This strategic Account Management process should ultimately ensure that the Key Account is in good health.
Step 7: Communicate with internal and external stakeholders
The plan stays on paper if it is not shared and buy-ins are not done in time.
Internal stakeholders that are the team members need to know the customer status and value to be delivered at all interfaces. Clear roles need to be charted and communicated. A few questions need to be answered:
* Is the customer status/value recognized at all touchpoints?
* Regarding the proposition, what you will / will not deliver?
* Are the roles of all on the account team known?
Externally, customers need to have details of all members on his account. They need to be in agreement with the proposition, opportunities, priorities, and activity. Once again, there are a few questions that must always be dealt with:
* Do customers on that Key Account have access to the details of the account team?
* Are they bought into the proposition, opportunities, priorities, and all planned activities?
* Have the KPIs been shared with and agreed by the customer?
Step 8: Everyday operations and management
This is the last mile of the whole Key Account Management exercise. It is critical and will determine the success of the plan. This includes managing information, queries, complaints, feedback, priorities, always keeping an eye on opportunities, building and strengthening the relationship, and working every day towards a renewal scenario.
Step 9: Monitor, Control and Review the Key Account Management Process
Have the objectives been met? Did your plan work? This step checks the critical parameter and is the final determinant of success with regards to the following:
* Value / profitability
* Plan progress – jointly monitored
* Have the identified opportunities materialised?
* Have the KPIs and SLAs been achieved?
* Formal measurement of relationship quality using a formal evaluation process
* Would you still place this account in the Key Accounts roster?
These nine steps, if followed diligently and exhaustively, will help you set the Key Account Management process in place and make it a success.
We sincerely wish you luck and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out in the comments below. If you have any additional steps that we may have missed out on, do let us know!