Here’s some old news—the world has changed. Things aren’t the same that they were 2 years ago. It’s not all bad, in fact, there are some very good things about the spot we find ourselves in (see my contrarian entry of December 28, 2009). But we have to operate in ways that help us succeed in this new world.
That goes for our account management programs as well. Account managers don’t need quotas and call logs to be successful. They need tools that help them serve and penetrate customers more effectively.
In the old world, we simply had to keep up with the growth that most of our customers were experiencing. In the new world, we have to understand our customers in a way that allows us to help them succeed. That’s how we find new opportunities to grow our businesses. Do account managers in your company have that understanding of your customers?
In the old world, we needed to convince our buyer of the value we provide. We did that by focusing on the product or service and its features. In the new world, the power often belongs with procurement. If we don’t build strong relationships with our buyers and develop solutions that help them drive their business, procurement will make a pure commodity of our offering. Do your account managers have the tools and direction they need to build these relationships and deliver solutions rather than products?
In the old world, capital was plentiful and we could take risks in how we allocated our resources. In the new world, our margin for error is tiny. We better be right when we make decisions to allocate resources, including decisions to allocate account managers and other resources to our most strategic accounts. Does your company make these decisions in a vacuum or based on gut feel, or do you use objective measures and input from the customers themselves?
It’s a new world. We must arm our account managers with tools that set them up to succeed.