Sometimes strategic account management seems like the vegetables at Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone agrees they need them, but they don’t always get much room on the plate. But like eating vegetables, practicing and promoting good account management really is good for you. And, when done right, it’s good for your clients and customers too.
We recently shared the following six golden rules of account management at our annual company all-hands meeting. You’ve probably heard most—if not all—of these before in one form or another, but keeping them front of mind day in and day out can be challenging when deadlines loom, unread emails stack up, and the inevitable fire drill burns a path to your desk.
To help us make sure we don’t lose sight of them, we inserted them into a notebook we passed out to every employee at the meeting. Part of our vision is to ingrain these best practices into our own daily lives. We think they’re worth paying attention to – and worthy of sharing with you, too.
1. Nurture the client relationship.
Remember the personal side of business relationships. Take the time to pay attention to the rhythm and flow of your client’s life in its entirety. Remember the details of the last conversation you had with them, their favorite pastimes, the information they’ve taken the time to share with you–and do it in a way that’s authentic and natural to you.
2. Impart knowledge.
Customers and clients look to us to provide something they don’t have, whether that’s a particular kind of expertise or a specific kind of service or solution. We do them a disservice, however, when we try harder to sell to them than we do to inform them. Consider every contact an opportunity to bring something of value to them. After all, they paid for it.
3. Be transparent and communicative.
This is especially true for timelines and budgets. Remember – we’re all on the same side.
4. Don’t stop learning.
Stay on top of industry trends and be aware of what’s rocking your client’s world. Stock price up? Executive shake-down in the headlines? New competitor gaining ground? Stay informed.
5. Be accountable to your client and hold your client to their own organization and goals.
Short-term wins are sometimes just that – quick fixes that ultimately fix nothing. When faced with pressures to go off-course, do your client a favor and ask them if this makes sense, now and in the long term. Help them build the case for doing the right thing.
6. Never, never do something for, or sell something to a customer or client if you know it’s wrong for them.
We all love getting credit for growing the business, but it should never come at the expense of a client relationship. Stickier still is when your client wants to take a direction that’s not aligned with their own organization’s goals. (See rule #5.) Account management is about building relationships for the long haul. Sometimes that means having difficult conversations – with your client and within your own organization.
Strive to take a systematic approach to managing key interactions with your most important clients and customers. When you work to provide them better service and value, you build healthier relationships. And that’s better for everyone.
Still finding yourself treating your accounts more like the side dishes or next-day seconds? Download the B2B Change Agent Handbook and learn how to keep your focus on the main course.