Have you been working hard to boost B2B sales by generating lead after lead and bringing on new clients but not making much headway?
Rather than continuing to put so much time and energy into lead generation, it might be time to take a look at the clients that you already have.
There may be an untapped gold mine resting right under your nose. How do you tap into this revenue? Develop your Key Accounts.
What Is a Key Account?
A key account is an account that:
- Makes repeat purchases
- Places a premium on having a preferred supplier relationship that provides them with easy access to:
- New ideas
- Superior service
- Keen pricing
- Is willing to pay premium prices for this access
With key accounts, the relationship between the buyer and supplier is a reciprocal one, more of a collaboration than a pure buyer-sales relationship. This type of relationship is a win-win situation for both you and your client.
Developing a Key Account Strategy
By developing a strategy to focus on these accounts, you could increase revenues by 30% or more without having to seek out new clients. Here is a seven-step path to get you started on developing key accounts to increase revenue.
1. How to Select Your Key Accounts
Since key accounts will receive a great deal of your company’s time, energy, and resources, it’s important to select them carefully. Not every account is going to be a key account.
And don’t assume your key accounts are the largest accounts or the ones who spent the most money. To build a long-lasting reciprocal relationship, make sure your values and vision align in key ways with the account you are considering making a key one.
It’s helpful to create an explicit, strict definition of key accounts. The more detailed and specific the criteria, the more successful your strategy will be.
According to SBI, the best approach is to choose between three and five of the following criteria to base your definition on.
- Revenue Potential (avoid weighting this too heavily)
- Centralized Purchasing
- Product Fit
- Growth Potential
- Existing Relationships
- Possible Channel Management partner
- Cultural Fit
- Geographical Alignment
2. Assign Managers to Key Accounts
Assigning dedicated account managers to your key accounts will make a huge difference in the success and implementation of your strategy. These account managers should be strategic managers and separate from sales.
If managers have to consistently split their attention between making sales and developing strategic accounts, their focus will be weakened. Also, keep in mind that strategic managers have a different skill set and approach to client relationships than sales managers.
Strategic account managers are analytical, personable, can think strategically about partnership opportunities and solutions, and can collaborate with high-level stakeholders and decision-makers.
3. Get to know the company
After carefully selecting the accounts to focus your attention on, take time to understand each company. Basic sales processes require knowing a company and its pain points.
Building long-term relationships with key accounts requires deeply digging in. Do your research online and in person to develop an intimate, sophisticated understanding of the company’s:
- Market Position
- Organizational Structure
Leverage this information to create business cases that show how price changes, customization, and add-ons would increase value to your client’s business while in turn, boosting revenues at your own.
4. Know the players
As we discussed in our last blog, B2B selling involves selling to a group of decision-makers who hold different positions in the company. Each person holds different levels of influence on the purchase.
To keep up with these individuals, build a key account org chart. Use this chart to keep track of:
- Who you are talking with
- Where they stand within the order of things
- Who must still be convinced to close the sale
- Their likes, dislikes, interests
- Their schedules, when is a consistent time to catch them in a good mood?
5. It’s About Reciprocity
The B2B relationship has evolved from that of vendor-buyer to a partnership. Relinquish the old idea you are selling to a buyer and replace it with the understanding you are a buyer’s partner.
One who is invested in helping their business succeed. This is a win-win as the better your buyer succeeds, the more your product or service is going to succeed at that business.
6. Think Long-Term
After you have chosen your key accounts and set your management strategy in place, keep going back and reviewing the accounts and the companies behind them.
Keep up with them in the news and online. Regularly run a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, external Opportunities, external Threats) analysis.
So, stay up-to-date on the business’s goals, financial health, and current initiatives. This way, you will know what they need before they even ask.
7. Continue to Cultivate and Keep an Eye Out
Continue to cultivate your key account relationships but also keep an eye on non-key accounts. At any given point, a customer may make become a key account, but it is up to you to be aware of this and transition them into your key account program before another company has the chance.
And, it will take time to build and implement your key account management strategy but once in place, the process will become second nature to you and your team. And over time, your business will experience an unprecedented, sustainable boost in sales.
We Know How Much Time and Energy It Takes
Being a B2B company ourselves, we know how much time and energy it takes to build a business and enjoy continued growth.
Furthermore, we value your time and are committed to your success, which is why we offer not only quality products but consistent customer-centric resources to support you in your work.
Let us know if there is anything our team at The Waterways can do to support your B2B– we’re here for you!