One of the biggest weaknesses of Account Managers is their lack of skills and confidence to build and sustain business relationships with senior executives at their major accounts.
We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.
Christian Nestell Bovee
Don’t just take it from us. A 2013 survey by Executive Conversation revealed that the highest priorities for training of salespeople were:
- Training on financial acumen and ROI
- Training on selling to customer executives
When you start to manage your major accounts more strategically, this issue often emerges. To manage their major accounts more strategically, Account Managers need to develop new relationships. These new relationships include C-Level leaders such as the CEO, CIO, CFO and even Board Members.
However Account Managers are used to dealing at the operational and mid-management level. So for many Account Managers, building relationships with executives is unfamiliar territory. So they lack the confidence and knowledge to initiate and develop C-Level relationships.
Typically, once Account Managers are in roles where they must meet with a senior executive they have three questions:
- How do I get a meeting?
- What questions should I ask?
- How will I know if the meeting was successful?
To be effective, Account Managers need to overcome their anxiety. They believe there are some special skills that they need that they don’t have. However in our experience, if they are used to dealing with management, they have the required relationship building and question asking skills; they need to change their perspectives:
Your company’s products & services Your strategic accounts business issues
Only creating value for your company Also creating value for your strategic account
However changing perspectives isn’t easy. Most Account Managers have spent their career focusing on short-term revenue and results. So changing their focus to understanding the senior executive’s key business issues, creating value for the strategic account and discussing strategy for future financial years requires some investment. They need help to transform their thinking. That is why sales training in this area has become the No.1 priority for many companies.
For companies who want to develop and sustain strategic account relationships, establishing and sustaining relationships with your customer’s senior executives is a critical capability.
So if this is an area your Account Managers struggle with we hope this blog gives you some ideas. Of course if you need more ideas or help look at our workshop;http://www.gordianbusiness.com.au/executive-interviews-workshop or contact us to discuss ways to improve the skills and confidence of your team to more effectively manage senior executive relationships. Contact us on +61 (02) 9450 1040 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome your contribution so please comment below and subscribe to our blog at the top right of the page.