Your Key Accounts Deserve the Qualities of a Good Worker

BY Tim Londergan
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To what lengths would you go to protect the relationship with your most lucrative client? Obviously, you would aggressively meet or beat competitive price and service requests. Certainly, you would engage directly with the client to resolve issues, ease tensions and set a revised course for mutual success. These crises happen occasionally and are a standard part of doing business. But how can you be available every time the dam breaks and your most valuable client goes floating downstream toward the safe harbor of your competitor? Ultimately, you need a collaborative support staff with the qualities of a good worker to rescue key accounts when things go wrong.

Focus on the qualities of a good worker to safeguard your key accounts

Approximately one-​third of a company’s revenue comes from just a few key accounts. That’s the premise established by Laura Starita, contributor to Gartner, as she shows how to identify the value of these high-​potential clients. Crucially, Starita urges top management to establish key account programs to not only shield these clients, but also to drive long-​term growth. Further, she defines key account programs as a strategy to cultivate these cherished accounts around your company’s current and future capabilities. To clarify, she suggests all your tactics should be justified by how they impact your key accounts. Of course, this includes hiring of staff.

Measuring the qualities of a good worker leads to great hiring

When implementing the key account program, hiring managers must realize the extent to which the organization honors these major players. According to Starita, “The product, finance, supply chain, and service teams each play a role in delivering value to the key account.” Each employee’s contribution is aligned toward the common goal of sustaining these precious relationships. The internal stakeholders, therefore, must collaborate, communicate and agree on the design and implementation of the key account program. Consequently, focusing on the qualities of a good worker who can aid and enhance these joint efforts becomes paramount.

Hiring expressly for key account management

What exactly are the qualities of a good worker who can contribute to a key account program? As stated, collaboration, buy-​in and cross-​functional involvement are necessary for a successful key account program. If you ask Corey Moseley, blogger for jostle​.me, “Collaboration is a process, but collaborating well is a skill that’s honed over time.” Further, he states that managers can hire for collaboration skills, but the work conditions must be favorable for the traits to thrive. First, let’s look at some of the personality traits necessary for collaboration and then define the setting that helps them flourish.

  • Trait: Open-​mindedness and natural curiosity. Setting: Release control and welcome all ideas. Replace ego and rank with empathy and active listening.
  • Trait: Clear communication and self-​awareness. Setting: Make room for all communication styles, be they verbal or written or interpretive dance (just kidding).
  • Trait: Organization and time management. Setting: Clarify and prioritize daily routines to facilitate cross-​functionality. Allow the process to develop organically.
  • Trait: Big picture thinking and long-​term planning. Setting: Define the goal in broad strokes and confirm everyone’s role in the process. Encourage each stakeholder to take ownership of the program.

Fostering collaboration enhances the qualities of a good worker and shapes the program

Identifying the personality traits necessary to work with your key accounts is a single step in the right direction. Likewise, providing the environment for this elite team to thrive is crucial. But Starita reminds us that these accounts evolve, and their qualifications must be reassessed from time to time. You should also have the tools available to assess the personality traits of your entire staff. Essentially, this allows you to identify fresh team members, promote from within and retain valuable employees who will unquestionably rise within the ranks.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash