The Key Account Manager
How do you respond to these customer's needs? The answer, increasingly, has been to develop a system of key account management where dedicated key account managers are responsible for the total relationship with each key account customer.
These managers have the responsibility of managing (and growing) the business and the relationship with these major customers. This involves a range of strategies and skills to manage, motivate and coordinate matrix of relationships across the various departments of both organisations and often across geographic boundaries including international.
The most important decision that must be made in determining the role of the key account manager is which direction he or she should be facing. Should the key account manager be primarily your company's representative to the customer, or should he or she be acting as the customer's representative to your company (perhaps even the customer's advocate), ensuring that all of your resources are focused on solving the customer's problems?
Our experience shows that the most effective key account managers see themselves primarily in the second role i.e. the customer's advocate, but obviously focused on outcomes that also deliver benefits to your company - a constant challenge facing key account managers.
The job of the key account manager is to manage the relationship, not to try and build it alone. The team of people serving a major customer should be made up of individuals from all levels of the organisation, from numerous departments and often many geographic locations. The team must serve this customer, and the team should be responsible for building the relationship. This creates a managerial challenge for the key account manager whose role is akin to an orchestra conductor.
Key account managers must truly be managers, since key account teams are rarely simply defined organisational units. While the account manager may be dedicated to serving his or her key account exclusively, few of the team members will be. Most frequently, their work for the key account will be only one of a number of responsibilities they bear.
The job of the key account manager is to create the team to serve their mutual customer and then to energize and motivate that team. This means devoting significant time to being a leader & coach.
Contact Tom for more information or to arrange a FREE no obligation discussion or meeting.