Strategic Management Of Key Clients : Most of the companies involved in B2B processes usually say that they have a “partner” approach with their clients. In some cases, the results do not support this statement and in others, it is the clients themselves who directly say that the words do not correspond to the facts.
The “strategic approach to customer management” allows each key customer to be assigned a strategy associated with a type of relationship and with a series of different activities in each case that make the processes that guide the achievement of results clearer and more tangible.
Key Account Management: Benefits In Two Directions
Key Account Management (GCC) is one of the practices that has gained the most relevance in the area of commercial management of B2B companies in the last 10 years. In our opinion, there are two explanations for this: firstly, clients perceive companies that have been able to successfully implement the processes associated with GCC to be better, and secondly, that correctly conceived large account management manages to generate profits in companies. two directions of the relationship.
Under the conviction that the long-term development and retention of the most important clients involves generating processes that allow both parties to “enrich themselves”, the implementation of key account management processes is capable of generating internally and transversally, the energy needed to develop customer relationships that make both parties better.
The Management of Large Accounts is a Long-Term Strategic Activity.
The GCC is a strategic activity to the extent that an election that implies a resignation is necessary. Not all customers can be treated as key accounts, obviously due to resource scarcity.
The key clients selected must be those whose objectives are most closely aligned with the objectives of our company and therefore present a greater contribution to their achievement. Their number must allow the correct implementation of the strategy decided for each one of them, taking into account that the management of this type of client involves the entire organization and not just the commercial department.
As for the long term, given that GCC is largely a relational activity, no one is unaware that the construction of relationships in any field, whether business or personal, involves accepting that time is a variable fundamental.
The selection of clients is the first key step
Client selection is the process that assures us that the resources available to the company will be correctly assigned based on the assigned objectives. The process requires the selection of the appropriate criteria so that the final result shows us on the map each client located on the type of relationship we wish to maintain with him.
The realization that not all clients are equally important and the ability to forego some clients in favor of others is a necessary skill in the process.
One of our clients in the insurance sector made a selection of 16 key clients to be managed by a team of “Key Account Managers”. A year later the number of key customers had doubled and the goal was to increase it to 50, although it is not an unreasonable number to be managed as a key account in a universe of 4,000, it shows the risk of gradually expanding the perimeter, encouraged for the good results obtained without realizing that key account management resources are limited.
The old saying “Less is More” applies entirely to the process of selecting and categorizing clients.
Not all Key Clients are the same. Another frequent mistake is usually to think that the process ends with the imposition on a client of the “key client medal”.
A client in the packaged food sector set up a key account management department. He hired a new team of account managers and assigned them a group of selected clients based on the size of their sales. The result was that all customers were treated in the same way and with the same objective: to continuously increase the sales volume of said customers. The way to do it for each client was not specified either, so finally and partly due to the profile of the members of the Key Accounts team, the promotional plan was used as the only tool for developing the volume of clients.
The moral is that not all key customers should be applied the same strategy. With each client, we must establish a different type of relationship that is determined by the four basic strategies for managing key clients: milking, maintaining, selective investment, and expansive investment.
A ladder of perceptions
It is worth remembering that time is an important variable when we talk about relationships. The relationships we build with customers over time should allow us to move from being perceived as a supplier to a partner. Over time it will be necessary to take advantage of opportunities to overcome the “price sensitivity” barrier, build loyalty through our ability to solve problems better than other providers, and make tangible the value that our help brings to your business.
At the end of the process, we will be seen as fellow travelers, whose help deserves a price that is worth more than any other competitor and whose contribution of value is clear and unquestionable.