Losing an account is painful, and when that account is one of your biggest spenders…well it has a huge impact on your bottom line. While it is important to grow your smaller accounts into bigger spenders, don’t forget that there are plenty of competitors circling like vultures; just waiting to displace you and add your strategic accounts to their own client roster.
So how do you keep the vultures away?!
As with all things, you need to invest a little time and effort with these key accounts. David Stargel of Sales Performance International shares 4 strategies used by top account managers. These strategies will help develop and elevate your relationship with your accounts.
1. Know the client’s organizational power and politics. Stargel warns that having a relationship with a solitary person at the organization fosters a relationship ripe for displacement. With high turnover rates, the person who replaces your contact might have very different loyalties and philosophies of operation. So protect against staffing changes at your client’s organizations by discovering ALL of the key stakeholders in the account. Once known, then identify their individual power and influence in their organization and determine a political standing with each.
Stargel also points out that titles don’t necessarily correspond to power. Informal authority and power to accomplish things is vastly important too, so make sure you look for the movers and shakers inside your client’s organization.
2. Get credit for the value you provide. Your client’s main focus is their own success, but unfortunately, they don’t always acknowledge or realize the root and supplemental causes of that success. If you can tie your product or service directly to value provided to the client, it will keep you at the forefront of their mind as a vendor they WANT to and MUST continue to work with. So make sure you are routinely “measuring and reporting the business impact of solutions, but also bringing new insight and business savvy to every conversation in the account.” Keep all your conversations value based and you’ll solidify your position with your clients.
Whether or not you believe your strategic accounts are at risk, you never know when a competitor will approach your clients. It can happen today, tomorrow or it may have already happened. So stay proactive. Stay vigilant and continue to foster and strengthen your relationship with these accounts.