Am I developing a strategic relationship or not?
This week, a manager asked me: “what should my account managers be doing today?” My answer was, I don’t know exactly what they should do today. But at the end of the month, I call tell you exactly how you know if they are doing their job.
At the end of each month, there is a simple, but tough test to apply. Just ask the account managers: how many man-hours the strategic client invested in the relationship. Then compare that with how many man-hours the client invested last month. If the client invested more man-hours than last month: the strategic relationship is developing. If the client didn’t invest more, then the strategic relationship is not developing.
Usually, when I say this at least some account managers want to argue. So, just in case you want to argue, let me explain. First, let me be clear the only thing that matters is how many man-hours the strategic client spent with someone from your organisation. That’s how much they and their organisation are committed to the strategic relationship.
So, if the strategic client says we want a partnership, but I am just too busy to meet this month. Understand: their actions do not support their words. Or if the client wants your insights into the market, but is too busy to see you and says just send me your slide pack: their actions do not support their words.
Too often our account managers will spend hours creating something for a strategic client, yet the client does not have time to meet them. Simply, how many man-hours our organisation invests in a strategic relationship is interesting but not helpful. No matter how many man-hours our organisation invests, the critical measure is how many man-hours the client invests in face-to-face meetings.
Let’s walkthrough what might happen when developing a strategic relationship. In month 1 our account manager meets with one person for half an hour. In month 2, our account manager meets one person from the client for two half hour meetings or one hour long meeting. In month 3, our account manager meets with two people from the client for an hour. In month 4 some people from our organisation make an hour long presentation to six people from the strategic client. In month 5 four people from the client have a two hour meeting with some people from our organisation. Each month, the strategic client increases their commitment of man-hours.
If each month, the strategic client is investing more of their man-hours in face-to-face meetings, then you are developing a strategic relationship.
As to what the account managers should be doing each day, well let’s answer that question in another blog, or try a strategic account management course at UTS to gain more insights. Meanwhile next month, how can you get your strategic clients to invest more man-hours in the relationship?