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Basic Account and Business Unit Information Strategic account teams must know the customer inside and out — all business units and subsidiaries, not just those where a beachhead is established, and all contacts (names, location, role, and current relationships) within the businesses. Of particular importance is specifying the role of each contact, i.e. the influencers, the economic buyers, the decision makers, as well as the key relationships (such as next-generation leaders). Central to any strategic account are the key contacts and the relationships formed with them. The goal is to establish and maintain a broad range of trusted relationships across functions and business units. Therefore, strategic account teams should actively invest in individual relationships and regularly engage in high-level business conversations with key customer contacts. Above the Funnel Activities Teams should identify what SOV can be used to open a door or strengthen a relationship. SOV stands for “something of value” — from free samples to customer testimonials — that will attract customers to the product or offering. The key is to give customers just enough information to pique their interest and stimulate demand, but not totally fulfill their needs. The team should use the SOV that presents an opportunity to extend relationships with targeted contacts. Account History An active record of prior and current sales will reveal buying patterns, configurations of service and deals, pricing history, sales cycle and length of the cycle. It also confirms who the buyers and decision makers have been — all valuable information that can influence a team’s approach to expanding account relationships. Knowing what did or did not contribute to past success informs future strategies and allows new team members to streamline their ramp-up curve. “The key is to invest in the relationship through continual touch-points and substantive time on-site, including after the sale to demonstrate how much the company values the relationship. Key Customer Issues and Business Imperatives This is the heart of the strategic account management. Teams should review business issues, the fact base, and possible product/ service implications. With strategic accounts, the team must remain/ informed about the customer’s business environment, the business model, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT), and strategy. It’s about knowing the customer’s industry and the hot trends, as well as the issues of customers’ customers. Strategic account teams should know what does and does not make the customer effective. Armed with such insight, a team can spot deficiencies in a customer’s operations (e.g., failure to use latest technologies). This delta or gap can create a sales opportunity, and once uncovered, an expert and experienced team can close that gap. Account Goals Strategic account teams must set goals to continually expand relationships across the customer’s organization. A few key contacts in a single organization are insufficient; better to keep expanding and meeting people, positioning the team at all levels in order to withstand any future organizational change. Working from the customer’s issues, imperatives and current account relationships, the team can establish mid-term, long-term, and annual goals for managing the account. The key is to invest in the relationship through continual touch-points and substantive time on-site, including after the sale to demonstrate how much the company values the relationship. Opportunities and Action Plan With the goals in mind, teams identify opportunities and establish their action plan, the opportunity, customer issues, product or offering, potential value to customer, estimated annual sales, key contacts, as well as action plan steps, participants, expected outcomes, timing Strategic Account Management 10 Submit your Articles sales and service excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 03.2015


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