Good business is built on good relationships. But nurturing and maintaining relationships is easier said than done, especially in business, where competition for clients is fierce and loyalty is hard-won.
So how can you compete? Enter account management.
Account managers are essential to maintaining strong client relationships and a healthy bottom line. Below we cover the roles and responsibilities of account managers and explain how they contribute to the success of their clients and business.
Account management is a post-sales role that focuses on nurturing client relationships. Account managers have two primary objectives: retain clients’ business and grow those opportunities. They accomplish these objectives by learning what their clients’ goals are and helping their clients achieve them.
Unlike a traditional sales role, which is short-term and focuses on landing the client, the account manager acts as a long-term liaison and, hopefully, a trusted consultant for the client.
In other words, sales are transactional and account management is relational.
By understanding their clients’ needs, the account manager can help answer their questions, solve their problems (ideally with customized product or service solutions), and develop a long-term strategic partnership with the client that extends beyond the original sale.
Among other tasks, the account manager is responsible for:
- Growing the original business partnership through upsells and cross-sells
- Managing relationships between the client and sales and customer support, and
- Retaining their long-term business through contract renewals by ensuring client satisfaction
In short, the account manager’s job is to delight the customer.
Today, long-term business success depends on creating positive customer experiences and increasing customer retention because repeat customers are more profitable than new clients.
Long-term clients tend to buy more from the company over time and refer other clients to your business, reducing operating costs (such as prospecting and lead nurturing). In fact, in the financial sector alone, a 5% increase in customer retention results in a 25% increase in profits. And that trend occurs across industries.
For companies looking to improve client retention, building a robust account management team is crucial.
Once the sales team wins a client, account managers are the main point of contact for your clients. They are essential to resolving conflicts with the client, smoothing communications with sales and customer support, and understanding the client’s goals and pain points in order to best meet their needs.
Account managers are the client’s champion within the organization and one of the biggest influences on a client’s experience with your business.
When 89% of customers begin a business with a competitor following a poor customer experience, effective account management is vital.
In some CRM systems, the term account management can be used interchangeably with the term CRM (customer relations management). Therefore, account management designates all the tools and strategies used by a company to build relationships with current and potential customers. The most common account management practices include collecting and analyzing customer data, tracking all stages of the customer lifecycle and forecasting customer behaviour. The primary goal of account management is improving customer retention and driving sales growth.
Advanced account management software usually provides a range of tools to make the life of salespeople much easier. Among the most popular solutions, there is sales automation, contact centre, shared calendars, or lead routing tools. Lead routing is especially important for companies that have a large number of incoming leads as it allows to set up different lead distribution rules, such as potential deal size, lead source or a history of previous interactions with a lead. Later on, the leads are distributed among your sales reps according to your preset rules automatically.