After developing account development strategy, process and approach for various clients, we’ve noticed a ‘good’ account is thought of as the strength of the relationship between the salesperson and said account. This is not surprising given that these relationships go a long way to a successful sale (people buy from people…).
Relationships are key to maintain, but this viewpoint also emphasises the need to create and develop new relationships. One aspect that should be included in all good account plans is the relationship state / approach.
1. A ‘Bow-tie’ relationship.
This is where an account manager takes on the full responsibility of the relationship with the respective client and the client contact.
This is not to say other departments and individuals in the business are not involved and/or consulted with, however the relationship has been built around these (circa) two individuals. The drawbacks here are obvious: should the account manager or the client contact move on / get promoted / win the lottery, that relationship breaks down. There is then the risk that the value your organisation provides the client is not understood or perceived in the same way by the new client/account contact.
2. The ‘Diamond’ approach.
This involves expanding the number of relationships between the organisation and client, and provides two key benefits:
1. Decrease in Churn
Through taking a strategic approach to the account, introducing the client contacts to relevant individuals (for example, one of our clients introduced their education specialist to the client education team), you are providing added value, as a trusted advisor and industry expert. This in turn allows a larger community in the client to appreciate and understand the benefit of working with your organisation.
2. Increase in revenue achieved from the account
With more people involved in the account, naturally more opportunities will expose themselves through the variety of conversations and interactions being conducted. Research shows that salespeople tend to continue to sell the product / service they are most comfortable with, resulting in a lack of cross-selling and a narrow offering.
The client also has more people to reach out to, discuss potential challenges and share areas they need help in, leading to potential opportunities.
In this ‘diamond’ state, the account manager, and/or team, needs to create a strategy to ensure this is deployed and implemented successfully, creating a collaborative approach to account and sales in general.
The account manager is still ultimately accountable for the performance of the client, but their primary role should be to orchestrate the internal team and resources to continually add value.