What skills do you look for in a strategic account manager? What skills are required to acquire, build, and grow a successful strategic account program? How do you avoid the questions, “Why do so many of the people I choose fail to make a significant impact in our strategic account customers?”
Continuing from my previous post, here are the five more critical skills for your strategic account managers.
The third quality is the strategic account manager is a strong leader. This individual needs to have the ability to lead account development activities both inside the client and, just as importantly, inside your organization. A successful strategic account manager is very good at motivating others without having a title. They are very good at getting others involved and engaged in their business development efforts. They have an intuitive sense of what and who needs to be involved to ensure growth within their strategic accounts.
The fourth quality is the strategic account manager is a great collaborator. This relates closely to the first quality. They work well across geographies, departments, and brands. They are very good at creating a strong team environment for the many diverse stakeholders in both the client’s and their own companies. They are very good at organizing resources to make sure they have the right and best people involved in growing their clients successfully.
The fifth quality is the strategic account manager is openness to innovation. Successful strategic account managers understand and respect past success, but are open to developing new products and services to meet their clients’ changing needs. They also create a team environment that highlights proven processes that can ensure success across both organizations.
The sixth quality is the strategic account manager is constantly learning and sharing new ideas. They are willing to test out new ideas before investing in them. They are capable of sharing new ideas with clients by saying, “This is something we are considering doing. Is this something you might be interested in knowing more about?” The ideas they share allow people to determine if it makes sense to move forward on them.
Your strategic account manager must be willing to challenge their client’s viewpoints on different ideas they may be receiving from other competitors in the field. Successful strategic account leaders look at ideas as being part of what their clients are buying through their longer term commitments to your organization. They are constantly advocating from a position of trusted partner for their clients and customers
Finally, and maybe more importantly, moving forward, the strategic account manager is great at attracting great talent to their team and your organization. Every person who works with them feels fortunate to be involved in their projects. They are great at attracting, motivating, and retaining great performers. They are good at evaluating competent and committed people on their projects.
They can also identify potential bottlenecks on their accounts so they can develop strategies to make sure critical projects are completed successfully. A strong strategic account leader is very politically astute within their clients and, many times, can identify future stars to begin building relationships with before they move into leadership roles. This provides a significant network of people to gather information from that is invested in their mutual successes.
Now that we’ve looked at what it takes to be a successful strategic account manager in today’s challenging times, you have a better idea how to identify these people in your organization. The more of these qualities your strategic account leader has, the higher likelihood they will succeed in helping you grow your business to the next level without increasing your responsibilities and time invested.
Next week, I share a strategic account management program that helps you develop these key qualities in your key account team members. See you next week.