A while back I blogged about some of the best books on account management http://kimtasso.com/getting-to-grips-with-key-account-management-kam but I omitted to mention this book (Seven keys to managing strategic accounts) which was published in 2003. It’s important because it is a joint effort with Miller Heiman – the creators of strategic selling® – and is based on interviews with thousands of strategic account contacts.
Now whilst the majority of the examples are American B2B industrial companies and there’s a fair bit of attention about the difference between selling to large accounts and strategic account management, and therefore not directly relevant to the professions, it has merit. Particularly for those who have passed the initial exploratory stages of KAM and are grappling with some of the more complex and sophisticated organisational issues in developing global accounts.
I like the reframing of account management as a business performance improvement initiative rather than a sales or marketing one and that the authors set realistic expectations that it “usually takes three to 12 months to understand the targeted customers’ business challenges well enough to co-create value and sell strategic solutions”. Some readers may find the recommended resource commitment proposed a little scary.
There are some simple but practical questionnaires, checklists, rules of thumb and analysis tools. And plenty of examples and practical ideas for what makes a good strategic account manager and how to implement a good SAM system. It highlights the challenges that some organisations will have in having access to the data to properly calculate activity costs, client lifetime value, value delivered to client and account profitability. And I couldn’t help smiling at the final chapter on the judicious use of technology – seems we still have the majority of CRM and SAM system problems identified a decade ago.
Of particular interest to anyone trying to persuade others of the value of a SAM programme are the results statistics from some of the case studies:
- Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions – in two years grew business 61% in a flat-to-declining market and cut selling costs 40%
- Reynolds & Reynolds Enterprise Solutions Group – generated a 55% compounded growth rate on sales to its largest single customer (Southeast Toyota)
- It took Minnesota Power three years to realign and restructure around customers – could not be driven by marketing, all functional areas needed to be part of the effort
- GfK/CRI cut 66% of its customers, doubled its revenues and tripled its margins
- A lost customer worth $600,00 a year suddenly returned to National Office Supplies as a five year, sole-source contract worth $5.5 million a year
1. What is strategic account managing
Part one – Getting everyone headed in roughly the same direction: what didn’t work
2. Key one – Define strategic account management as a business rather than a sales initiative
3. Key two – Create firm alignment and commitment to meet strategic accounts’ needs and expectations
4. Key three – Start with the right number of the right strategic accounts
Part two – Tactical issues in strategic account management
5. Key four – Create human resources support for strategic account managers
6. Key five – Create firm wide relationship at multiple levels of relationship between the firm and its most critical accounts
7. Key six – Regularly quantify and communicate the value received from and delivered to strategic accounts
8. Key seven – Use technology judiciously
Part three – From analysis to action