Many business leaders assume that if they have top-of-the-line products or services and a sales team that knows how to pitch them, long-term success is a foregone conclusion. But the truth is, due to endless competition and unpredictable variables, business relationships are notoriously fickle. If your customers feel even slightly ignored or underwhelmed, they won’t hesitate to take their business elsewhere. To avoid this, you must be able to develop trust, connection, and communication with your clients even after they’ve made a purchase or signed a contract. And this is where account managers can provide immense value for your company by fostering long-term relationships that allow you to retain business and scale your success.
In part one of this two-part article, we’ll detail exactly what an account manager does and the specific tasks they execute that make them crucial to the sustained success of your business.
WHAT IS AN ACCOUNT MANAGER?
Account managers (AM) take over where your hunter sales team leaves off. Unlike hunters, who focus on net new business, an AM is focused on long term customer retention as well as opportunities to expand the amount of business you do with them. They do so by doing a deep dive into all the intricate details of how a client’s business works so you can keep them happy, anticipate their needs, and offer specific products and services that help your customers achieve their long-term goals. In short, they focus on developing the customer relationship post-sale by acting as a trusted consultant who fields any questions, complaints, and suggestions the client may have and tailor future sales pitches to their needs.
WHAT DOES AN ACCOUNT MANAGER DO?
To foster good business relationships and find opportunities to expand current partnerships, account managers utilize a variety of processes and techniques that go beyond just listening closely and being pleasant. Here are a few of the main tasks that an AM will handle when hired:
- Managing client and company communication – Beyond understanding the minute details and long-term goals of your clients, an account manager can also create a necessary buffer between your clients and the employees at your company. For example, a good AM will effectively communicate to your client why certain products or services might benefit them in a way that someone with less knowledge about their business might be unable to. Or they might be able to field customer complaints and communicate them to your team in an unemotional and straightforward way, so no one reacts defensively. Essentially, an AM can allow both sides to speak bluntly and then transfer these messages back and forth from the client to the company in a way that allows for problems to be ironed out without conflict and solutions to be offered from a trusted voice.
- Quarterly Business Reviews (QBR) – A quarterly check-in with your existing clients, a QBR is a great way to show off the results of your partnership, examine ROI, and realign the products and solutions offered to your customer’s current and long-term goals. To be effective, the AM must make sure QBRs remain focused and strategic, with the purpose of gaining insight into your customer’s level of satisfaction and how to offer tailored solutions and services that will deliver value and create even more trust.
- White Space Analysis – AMs should also use available sales data to conduct a White Space Analysis. This process allows you to uncover opportunities for upselling or cross-selling by examining the current market and highlighting potential areas where consumers might be willing to spend money your business isn’t currently capitalizing on. This process can supplement QBRs by spotting your customers’ unspoken or unmet needs that wouldn’t otherwise be identified and offering them creative ways to expand or improve their businesses they might not have otherwise been aware of.
If you’re not leveraging these tactics or processes for the benefit of your company, you may be missing out on potential business. Or, if you are but don’t have an account manager, hiring an AM to take over these responsibilities can free you up to re-focus on the bigger picture. Either way, having an account manager will boost your ability to retain clients and identify new business opportunities.
Stay tuned for part two of this two-part article, where we’ll dive into the different types of account managers you might need, or if you have immediate questions about how to identify, hire, and train a great account manager, contact OSR Manage today.