Couple of years ago, as part of my leadership development journey with a global conglomerate, I was assigned a project with a manufacturing company to do key account mapping for one of their largest global customers. The objective was to consolidate the account across eight locations globally and leverage relationships within it to grow the account and improve the product share.
Few months ago, a client reached out to us with a similar thought process for many of their key accounts and while assisting Shantanu Sensharma, our sales transformation and key account management expert in putting a design together for the client, some key cultural and customer experience learning popped up that potentially can help numerous organisations evaluate their key account mapping journey.
- 80-20 principle – As with any process in life, this principle is deeply ingrained in every process of business too. One of my personal learning in this journey has been to understand who my real customer is. The one who is buying a service or the one who is actually paying for it. Similarly, which are those 20% key people/accounts who when we influence will get us 80% business? Are we really mapping them well on paper?
- Understanding the field of play – Empathy for customer and their larger than stated needs sometimes get side-lined in the process of winning a deal. Too many teams fight for the pie resulting in short term relationships, half baked understanding of customer challenges and the issues that persist with the customer’s customers as well. The strategic selling process goes on to build that partnership with the customer and helps the organisation be a business partner rather than just a seller.
- Creates a win win approach – The entire process of managing your key accounts then moves out of the manipulative sales tactics and the mentality to just fulfil the order and imbibes a larger partnership based model that not just understands the customer’s field of play but proactively designs and proposes interventions that moves them from being just a seller to a strategic collaborator.
- Spoken language and the culture – In our experience of managing this process for our clients, one of the key make or break situations is in the way organisations integrate this methodology with their every day processes. Is it just a piece of paper or exercise that got done during two days of training or does it find a place with the leadership team and during the sales review meetings? The organisations that have made the most out of this process are the ones who use this language to measure success across the board and have the discipline to monitor and measure the growth of their key accounts with a definite 3-5 years plan.
- Forward integration of the process – One of our clients that best leveraged the KAM process took the strategic plan to its customer and evolved a 3 year lane expansion roadmap along with the client. That gave them enough insights about how the customer views this partnership today and in future and allowed their customer to trust this client’s intention to add value to the business process. Probably, one of the best strategies we have seen in building trust based partnerships.
- Coaching Sales teams – A beautiful interweaving of growth matrices and coaching happens when organisations know how are they aiming to grow their business and are open to investing in the development of their sales force towards that objective. Talk about integration with culture once again and there are case studies galore on when teams know just what are they supposed to accomplish and that the organisation is invested in helping them accomplish that, the results of the process are just phenomenal.