What kind of leader is effective at growing strategic accounts? How do you find the right person to lead your strategic account team? How does the right mindset increase your key accounts sales and profits?
The largest difference between small, well run entrepreneurial businesses and healthy, growing mid-market organizations is found in how they find, build, and develop their strategic accounts. So how do you find the best leaders for your strategic accounts?
Many smaller businesses struggle in managing their key accounts. I believe this is because many successfully run smaller businesses are led by founding entrepreneurs who are very good at selling their original ideas to potential clients. The skills to get your early sales success are similar, but need to be more finely developed if you hope to create a significant impact on your larger clients. I also believe that many entrepreneurs are too quick in deciding which accounts they invest their time in at the early stages of the business.
Most entrepreneurs start their business because the financial freedom they think it provides for them and their families. They are very good at the technical skills involved in selling products and services to clients, but may have not developed the business capabilities to manage a strategic account.
They also may hire individuals who have similar skills. This wouldn’t be a problem except most small business entrepreneurs are also very controlling. Many are superstar sales professionals in their own right. They see sales as being the key success factor to their growing business.
I have been involved in over 75 strategic account programs over the past 25 years. These strategic accounts have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for their businesses. They have provided a significant platform for organic growth within their organizations.
I’ve served as strategic account manager in several large financial service companies as well as prospecting, acquiring, and developing several large strategic accounts in world class manufacturing firms. I’ve also consulted with many large professional services firms serving healthcare, banking, software, distribution businesses and the telecommunication industries.
I’ve also recruited these individuals for many of the world’s most successful sales organizations. Even today, I get calls on a regular basis from clients asking if I would be interested in heading up their strategic or global account programs. I believe successful strategic account leadership can help take a midmarket organization from good to great.
I’ve identified seven key qualities that increase your success in developing strategic accounts for your organization. Today and Friday, I identify the seven key qualities you’re looking for in a successful strategic account manager.
Before I’m finished, I’m betting you’ll see several qualities that not only identify a good strategic account manager, but would help this individual be a successful entrepreneur in their own right. That’s because the people I’ve seen succeed in strategic accounts also would be good at building a business that can stand on its own, not only in terms of sales and profits but, as importantly, they could identify important opportunities for growth using your firm’s unique capabilities.
The first quality is the strategic account manager has a customer orientation. A successful strategic leader must really understand the clients’ business and where they are going. They must be able to not only talk about their strategy; they must be able to contribute significant value to the conversation with the many stakeholders across their client organizations. The best are also very good at getting the right people into the meeting together to increase the effectiveness of their strategic account team members.
The second quality is the strategic account manager understands business profitability, both theirs and their clients. They must be effective at looking at return on investment and economic value added. In the past, it’s been about understanding their clients’ balance sheets, today it’s both soft and hard numbers. Many of your better customers are investing significant resources to better know their profitability before moving with a project. Your strategic account leader must be able to make the case for why your projects provide more upside than many of your global competitors.
That’s it for today. I’ve shared what is going on with many of your business development activities, why certain situations derail your revenue growth efforts and why you should consider developing a more robust strategic account program. On Friday, I share five more key qualities you should consider when picking the right person to lead your strategic account development efforts. See you Friday.