There are three components of an effective account management strategy:
- The creation of a plan
- The tools to support the plan
Let’s say you have written account management plans for accounts that warrant them and you have the tools to make those plans happen. What’s left? As Nike would say, “Just do it.”
But going out and doing it is where many sales professionals fall short. They’re too busy doing other important things: chasing after new business, prospecting, doing internal reports, or going to meetings.
Executing and Account Management Strategy
I tell sales professionals, “You are the CEO of your own territory.” It is your responsibility to hold your own feet to the fire to make sure you’re doing the right things to maintain and grow your accounts.
It’s more than relationship building; although, that’s a large piece of it. Stepping back, you have to diligently work your plan month by month and year by year. You also have to look at the competition as part of your overall plan. You want to find out how often competitors visit your customers and what they say about you so that you can determine a proper course of action. In today’s Internet age, with so much information out there, every time you touch the customer, you have to bring value.
For many, executing an account management strategy is hindered by time-management issues. In a typical 40-hour work week;
How many hours do you spend doing all the things you need to do in sales?
How many hours are you prospecting to get new business in the door, making new sales calls during the week, or setting up appointments for the next week?
The only way to make sure account management happens is to have a plan and determine how many hours you need to allocate each week.
Create a Monthly Account Management Plan
I like to do a monthly plan, while others prefer quarterly or even annually. Let’s use my monthly plan as an example.
- Plan which accounts you need to visit and how frequently during the month you need to visit each
- Ask yourself; How much time will all this take? Include drive time or travel time in your estimations
- Schedule this time in your calendar
Once it’s on your calendar, that time is carved out for account management. It’s a matter of finding balance, making sure to allocate time accordingly for all the things that need to be done.
Balance Account Management and Prospecting
Some sales professionals are born hunters. They love to go out and make new deals. But they tend to forget about account management, so what they’ve won can eventually go out the back door. Conversely, some sales professionals don’t like going after new business; they prefer to focus solely on account management. It’s important to find the right balance between getting new business and keeping and growing existing business. Once that balance is achieved, you have to keep monitoring the effectiveness of your plan.
Am I retaining and growing the accounts I thought I would? If not, why?
How am I going to change my plan if I need to?
Find Account Management Support
In executing your plan, remember that it’s not all on you to do everything. Who else in your company supports your efforts? Is it customer service, marketing, operations? Will your boss call your contact’s boss for lunch once a year? You are the face of your company to your customers, and you can draw on the resources within your organization to build solidarity with them.
Consistent Execution Supports Retention and Growth
Account management is not something you do at a single point in time. It’s a constant, evolutionary growth strategy for your business, for your territory, and for your career. With consistent execution, you will see your retention improve and your accounts grow. Relationships will expand. When you walk down the halls during customer visits, more people will know you and want to talk with you. Speaking from experience, this is a wholesome approach with valuable rewards.
The great beauty of having an account management strategy is that if you plan your work and work your plan, you’ll be able to manage your business and watch it grow.