In these challenging times, if you are looking for ideas to improve your business, then best companies focus on their greatest asset — their most strategically important accounts. Managing B2B customers you can’t afford to lose, focuses in more detail on more strategic relationships, creating and leveraging value and the financial implications of those different behaviours.
Strategic account management (SAM) is the framework for how companies continue to show growth for themselves and their top accounts. Most marketing efforts to drive sales, often do so without considering top accounts. Some marketing incentives can annoy major accounts because they have separate projects that do not need any other incentives for growth.
The top 10 to 20 accounts of any B2B organisation typically represent 60–80% of revenue and profit with some cases as high as 95%. The consequences of losing one of these customers are dramatic, and in today’s business environment it is almost impossible to replace these customers; your competitors will protect them at all cost.
Your top accounts drive your revenue and profitable growth, but the remaining small contributors to the business are often the ones that demand the most attention and offer little in return.
The market reality is that as a CEO, board and executive team, you must know by name key senior decision makers in each of your top accounts and how they perceive you: cost versus revenue, and what value you bring to their business every day.
In the last blog, I put growth in your major accounts squarely at the feet of the C-Suite. Revenue growth with top accounts is not about sales success; it is about the focus of the leadership team in harnessing the whole organisation to focus on your top accounts.
In review: to be successful, the leadership team must drive growth through its major accounts, with a solid strategy and clear executive sponsorship. Some people look bewildered at the prospect of getting every part of the executive team working on a better outcome for the top accounts. But, without effective executive sponsorship, businesses will perish.
If the leadership team are not actively involved with their active sponsorship seen throughout the organisation, top accounts are not treated differently. When auditing your company to see how effective your account executive sponsorship is, look for:
All the C-Suite being assigned to one or two of the top accounts and being actively involved in planning the value proposition for this account.
Executive sponsors are involved in strategic meetings with the account manager of the account and key senior executives within that account. These meetings are not cheerful meet and greets; they are high and wide executive level customer engagements.
When I managed major accounts at 3M, one of the executives from HR, loved our client meetings, she was a fantastic listener and a major contributor.
At the start of the year, the C-Suite have all account reviews in their diary, and they will not miss a meeting.
The executive sponsors actively use insights from meetings with their top accounts to change the shape of the business.
Use the power of Artificial Intelligence (Ai) and Human Intelligence (Hi) to manage top accounts for growth.
Rarely do companies get a tick on all five and in fact, normally number four suffers the most. Most executives believe if the account is going well, they don’t need to waste time on account reviews. However, if one account is kicking goals, they are the one you should forensically pull apart. Why? So you can grow further with this account, and repeat the behaviours in your other top accounts.
If you want growth, real growth with your top accounts, then the executive team must own the growth initiative and must drive it.