3 Effective Tips For Successful B2B Account Management

Most B2B businesses are aware of the adage – 80% of sales come only from 20% of customers.

This means the business must treat these 20% with greater care (since they are highly valuable assets).

The sad part is that companies often have no dedicated process in place to nurture relationships with these key clients.

They tend to believe the lie that the work is over once the sale closes.

Nothing could be further from the truth because customers may churn for several reasons, all costly for the business.

Plus, B2B customer relationships are much more complex and take a significant amount of time to build.

This is where the importance of strategic account management (SAM) comes in.

In this article, we will discuss three best practices for companies to manage their key accounts strategically.

Sales vs. Strategic Account Management

The purpose of sales/selling is pretty clear and straightforward – short-term profits and customer acquisition.

It is a more or less shallow process compared to the depth that strategic account management offers.

In other words, account management is ahead of sales, allowing the company to develop deeper relationships with their core customers.

We can put it this way – sales is all about focusing on the present, whereas account management is about the future.

An organization’s gains from strategic account management may not be immediate, but it undoubtedly impacts long-term profitability and business success.

Account Management Best Practices

An effective SAM program does not happen by accident. Top-notch organizations use definite, formal, and repeatable processes so that their most valuable client relationships blossom.

Whether your organization already has an SAM in place or you’re venturing to implement one soon, the below-mentioned best practices will put you ahead of the curve.

Use A Dedicated Tool

Most B2B organizations have a dedicated account manager, separate from sales.

Some go a step further with an entire team of account managers to switch priorities between strategic accounts and sales.

While these are great, you must provide your account managers with technological tools that make their tasks easier.

Take the example of key account management software. According to Prolifiq, most B2B companies find that their customer relationship management (CRM) platform is inadequate to drive accountability, revenue, and action.

Since account management needs have evolved, you must retain existing clients whilst nurturing and expanding your base.

Click here to read about the most common challenges implicating it’s time to introduce a separate tool for account management. 

With the help of a dedicated tool, you can –

  • Map key stakeholders
  • Generate comprehensive reports based on analytics
  • Conduct a whitespace analysis of customer accounts
  • Integrate with the existing CRM for a seamless flow of customer data
  • Streamline sales processes and clean up data

From the customers’ front, there are many benefits to avail of, including greater personalization, proactive communication, and complete transparency.

The key ingredient to B2B business success is client relationship building based on trust. This is exactly what you get with dedicated account management software.

Conduct A Needs Assessment

Your portfolio of customer research will only prove to be useful when you conduct a thorough needs assessment.

Consider the following questions to understand your customers better (something that should be a consistent practice).

  • What are the current pain points of customers?
  • Where do you and your client’s goals and needs overlap, and what are the best ways to bring about progress for both?
  • What problems are lurking that must be anticipated and addressed promptly?

Keep in mind that key accounts are long-term investments. So, do not focus merely on short-term transactional lifecycles (3-6 months).

Ideally, you must conduct a needs assessment for the next 1-3 years. With the answers to these questions, you can discover partnership opportunities.

This way, you can grow with your customers and strengthen your relationship with them.

Set A Cadence and Monitor Performance

Your strategic plan must be drafted in black-and-white, including things like strategic recommendations, resource requirements, short-term benchmarks, and long-term goals.

Once the plan is in place, establish ongoing communication through a cadence for follow-ups and meetings.

This includes outlining a schedule for every follow-up, touchpoint, etc.

The schedule is your ticket to understanding your customers’ current needs, how they are using your solution, and what steps you can take to help them further.

Also, monitor performance on each account with measurable metrics. This should include both short-term and long-term goals.

As you assess how well you’re doing against the established key performance indicators (KPIs), it’s equally important to determine how well the key accounts are meeting their obligations.

The ultimate goal is mutual long-term benefit. If you see no strategic value, it’s better to identify them at the earliest and reconsider those key accounts.

Let’s conclude with the findings of Gartner, which stated that strategic account management helps build customer decision confidence.

B2B organizations are rebuilding key accounts to address underperformance issues.

To do the same, follow the best practices mentioned in this article, but most importantly, remember the thumb rule.

In other words, never take a siloed approach to account management in hopes of selling more.

You will get better results simply by making your customers the center of your account management strategy. 

Share this post:

Related Content