The better your Key Account Management, the better the chances of your Key Account Retention. Key Account Retention is a straight derivative of how you build your relationship with your Key Accounts. It is not a data or a numbers game, but a relationship-building regimen. It is something you work at, for the long haul.
There are certain Key Dos for Key Account Retention. We spell them out so that you don’t leave anything hanging loose when it comes to keeping your Key Relationship under a tight fist, yet nurturing it in a way that blossoms and keeps growing into a richer and mutually rewarding business association.
The 4 Key Dos
- Look at KAM as a joint venture
A vendor-buyer relationship takes away the ‘joint’ and ‘trusted’ feeling from a relationship. It becomes more of an association that a relationship. But if you work with your Key Accounts for a joint win, make joint plans with clear metrics, you will succeed at super speed in winning your customer’s trust. Joint objectives, joint strategies, joint plans, and joint ownership is the best way to look at your Key Account Relationships.
- Measure it to grow it
Every plan is only so good as it is measurable. Without tangible figures to showcase the success of your plan or otherwise, there is no way you are going to win the trust of your customer. It is best to clearly define the measurable at the beginning of a relationship and measure it periodically as decided. This sets the tone of expectation, ownership, transparency and, therefore, trust. Every plan, every step, every point of value-added, is only as good as its measure of success. Numbers are important, keep them looped into your plan and be open for discussion.
- Timely reporting is key
As support to #2 above, it is important to keep the flow of communication open on both ends between you and the customer. This establishes and nurtures trust because relationships are about being open about everything, including setbacks. Timely and periodical reporting with facts and figures help to keep the strategy on track as also the relationship.
- Build one-on-one relationships
Your relationship cannot happen with an organization. It is built with real people. It pays to understand the hierarchy, the straight lines, the dotted lines and everything in between. It helps to know people at all levels in your customer’s organization and especially those who are influential, seniors, your brand champions and even those who play the devil’s advocate. This way you can build an individual relationship with every person in the customer’s organization who you think is instrumental in building and growing your Key Account. There is no substitute for hard work when it comes to building a one-on-one relationship with your customer’s key people.
If you liked this blog, you can also read an Interview with Richard Ilsley, Managing Partner- The Sales & Marketing Consulting Group & The Key Account Management.