A new season of (American) football has kicked off here in the US, so millions of us have also started playing Fantasy Football. As I was reviewing Week 1 results (http://www.nfl.com/fantasy) and making a few changes to my fantasy team and lineup, I noticed several parallels between fantasy team management and strategic account management:
Know and leverage your strengths – Every fantasy prognosticator (yes, people do this for a living) maintains a list of studs, duds, and sleepers. Your customer/prospect list no doubt has the same. Spend your time and resources accordingly. Challenge yourself to spend as much time with your sleepers (currently low revenue but high potential) as you do your studs (largest revenue/most profitable customers).
Continuously reassess your competition – In most fantasy leagues, your team plays a different opposing team each week. Successful players adjust their lineups accordingly. Strategic Account Managers should too. Our competitors are constantly releasing new products or services or trying to change their tactics in approaching our customers. Monitor this competitor activity as closely as possible – even talk with your customers about it. Ask them what they think of your competitor’s latest release – this will give you a chance to hear their opinion and also give you an opening to reiterate why your comparable product is superior.
Monitor the news – Just like fantasy footballers monitor injury reports and who is practicing well each week, we Strategic Account Managers need to stay abreast of what’s going on within our client companies. A few specific suggestions: attend public company earnings calls to know how their business is performing and what they’re expecting in the future, set up Google alerts to deliver news and press releases on your client to your inbox, subscribe to client company newsletters and newsfeeds.
Maybe managing strategic accounts can be a little more fun (not that it isn’t already) if we liken it to fantasy football more often. Game on!
Principal/Senior Vice President