On the 8th day of Christmas I woke up in a panic as the big day was less than a week away and I still didn’t know what to buy my partner for Christmas; and at work my boss has asked me to set up a Key Account Management process and I don’t know where to start!”
Well, we are sorry but this short article can’t help with the first point but we can outline a high level structure for a good key account planning process that may help with the latter. But we can tell you the following as a starting point:
When pulling this all together, here are some things for you to consider:
1. Determine portfolio direction
As a starting point you need to be certain about the lines of business and sectors that you’re in, why you’re in them, and whether they represent profitable growth opportunities. Basically it’s about being in businesses deliberately and for good reasons, not by accident or dint of history
2. Understand customer value & needs
Getting the balance right in this area is the key to running a profitable business. Think about who are your best and worst customers? How much are they worth? What are their needs? How do they behave – when they make key decisions (e.g buy, renew, move to a competitor?) Why do customers buy from you? What are their issues and challenges?
3. Understand the state of the relationship & account opportunities: ‘relationship diagnostic’.
You need to ensure you understand the extent of the customer relationship with you – in your own business division and across your wider organisation if appropriate. Do you have the right mix / number of people on the account team? Have you considered the length of relationship, the history and any issues that need to be remembered? What is your share of wallet with your key accounts? Have you carried out any research using internal knowledge and supplementing this with independent external knowledge to identify potential opportunities for development?
4. Develop account plan: ‘customer development blueprint’
This account plan should be a living document which sets the direction, opportunities and priorities for the account. It should be clearly linked to customer information and be accessible to all involved in the account, developed in collaboration with all internal and external stakeholders and a standard format that can be used for all key accounts. Have you had customer involvement and buy in? Are you clear on what customer data/ information is important and what it is going to be used for? Where you are going to source it from, store it, and keep it up to date?
5. Develop action plan
The plan should drive activity on the account:
- by when
- who will be involved
- how will success be measured / reviewed / communicated
You also need to consider roles and responsibilities, the process for escalation of issues, and what you will do if the account is in real danger of being lost.
6. Carry out a resource review
To tie in with previous stage have you got a clear idea of the resources you need to allocate to ensure the account plan can be delivered? What skills and competencies do you need across the team? Are there specific skills, behaviours and knowledge required for certain key accounts? And what are the cost implications?
7. Communicate internally & externally
The plan is no good if it isn’t communicated to those who need to see it!
Internally – is the customer status / value recognised at all touch points? In terms of proposition, what you will / will not deliver? Are the roles of all on the account team known?
Externally – does the customer have access to details of the account team? Are they bought into the proposition, opportunities, priorities, and planned activity? Are they measured and KPIs shared and agreed?
8. Day to day management
This is where the plan comes to fruition! This includes all activity around managing queries, getting to know the customer better, developing the relationship, looking for more opportunities to cement the relationship, planning for and managing account renewal and getting regular feedback from the client on the state of the relationship
9. Monitoring and Review
Monitoring and reviewing performance against the objectives set out in the account plan:
- Value / profitability
- Joint business plan progress.
- Efficiency & avoidance of offer creep
- Review opportunities identified – have these come to fruition?
- Have you achieved agreed KPIs / SLAs?
- Formal measure of the quality of the relationship using an independent evaluation process
- Does the case still warrant treatment as a “Key Account”?
We may not have helped you with ideas for a present for your partner, but hopefully we have given you some food for thought to help you get 2016 off to a cracking start with a well thought through Key Account process.
And if you need some guidance, contact us and we can help you create the process that works best for you.
Contact us at: hello@CustomerAttuned.com
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