Organizations that have successfully implemented strategic account management programs have made it a top management priority. They make it a priority that each staff meeting includes a review of strategic account plans, priorities and progress. This is pretty basic to any thriving key account management program. Most successful sales executives understand this. Yes, top level meetings with the client’s top level people need to be held at regular intervals and functional managers on each side of the relationships must work hard at accomplishing the agreed action plans. However, this may not be enough to drive the kind of revenue and profit growth that most organizations require today. We are often asked what other practices should be implmented along with this very basic but important practice.
This is an interesting question. Based on our experience with many organizations we have studied, successful sales organizations also implement these 5 asset management practices:
1. Profit Measurement
Each party to any strategic relationship has to agree on the profit measurement that will define the success or failure of the supplier-customer relationship. The measurements need to be developed in joint workshops that include operating and finance people on both sides of the relationship. Reviewing these measurements at each top management meeting is essential to ensure proper focus and follow up.
2. Long-term Strategy That Maximizes Returns
. . .this means strategy developed through account plans by account teams to get overall alignment. . .
Effective strategic plans need to be developed jointly by strategic suppliers and clients and presented to top managements for approval. Outside facilitators may need to be retained, if necessary, to accelerate this process.
3. Asset Protection Practices
Strategic accounts are a company’s largest non-balance sheet assets and measurements need to be developed which ensure they are secure. The value of these client assets is well demonstrated by the stock market values of Microsoft, Apple and Google. You can use similar procedures to protect strategic clients as organizations use to manage fixed assets, inventories and receivables.
4. Systematic and On-going Communication From the Customer and Deep Within the Organization
. . .this means you need a vision and a plan to talk about. . .
To make strategic account management work effectively, all functions and all levels need to understand the plan and daily priorities. This means that strategic client and supplier management need to brief the functional operations people on the priorities and progress on an ongoing basis. Everyone needs to understand to actions for success and see a personal win in executing the program profitably.
5. Third party Assessments and Meeting facilitation
It may be useful from time to time to invite third parties to take a look at the effectiveness of you strategic account management program and suggest ways that it might be enhanced. This may involve the third party meeting with both the strategic supplier and clients and facilitating group discussions to sharpen priorities.
By incorporating these 5 practices, sales executives and their account teams can maximize the revenue and profit potrential of their best assets - their strategic accounts. Let us not forget though, that top management focus in your organization is a prerequisite to any successful strategic management account program.