Key Account Management and How to Synergize Account-Driven B2B Business
By Will Price
Customer-centricity is a primary focus area for every successful business. Your biggest customers expect to be greeted with the white-glove treatment, having their every need catered to. For B2B-focused organizations, key account management provides that service, enabling enterprises to bring personalization to the forefront of their marketing and sales efforts.
But access to the right digital tools and technologies is required to allow account-driven businesses to thrive fully. In this article, we’ll explain why key account management is necessary for B2B enterprises and the critical role that digital tools can play in driving success.
What is Key Account Management?
Key account management (KAM) is a strategic approach to managing and nurturing relationships with a select group of high-value customers or key accounts. The Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule is a concept that 80% of results come from 20% of actions, and KAM follows a similar idea.
These key accounts typically result in a very high proportion of B2B revenue and, as such, often receive additional personnel and resources in the form of dedicated sales teams and account managers who cater to them. This approach also tends to be successful since Gallup Research says that “40% of B2B customers who are very satisfied with their account manager are fully engaged.”
A Personalized Approach
Key account management in B2B and personalization in B2C aim to enhance customer relationships, so there is some overlap, particularly as the dedicated focus provides a customized interaction. However, key account management focuses on building partnerships with high-value customers, whereas B2C personalization tailors experience for a broader customer base.
The Role of Digital in Enhancing Key Account Management
Since enterprise sales are usually very complex, involving long sales cycles, face-to-face meetings, and a high degree of customization, these sales are almost always negotiated outside digital channels. This does not mean that digital channels do not play a role. However, there needs to be synergy in the interplay between the prospect, the account manager, and digital channels.
Digital enablement gives B2B enterprises the foundation to manage key customer accounts better. It transforms processes to support digital endeavors rather than simply digitizing content or adding new tools.
By adopting digital technology, enterprises can enhance key account management in several ways:
- Improved Relationships: Digital tools can help to foster stronger relationships with partners and primary customers by providing them with more ways to reach them. Examples include video conferencing to cross geographical barriers and showcase demos.
- Data Analytics: Account managers can use data analytics tools to gather critical insights and better understand customer preferences.
- Collaboration and Communication: Digital tools facilitate seamless communication and coordination among account managers, sales teams, and other stakeholders.
- Modern Web Applications: Enterprises can use tools such as headless CMSs and ecommerce platforms to create engaging digital applications that improve the key account experience and open up new channels to service them.
Opportunities Digital Tools Can Offer Account-Driven Businesses
For account-driven businesses that adopt digital technology, there are a number of opportunities and subsequent benefits available to them.
Improved prioritization through customer segmentation
Companies can segment their key accounts based on industry, revenue potential, buying behavior over the years, and other parameters. Doing so enables key account managers to focus their efforts on specific accounts, providing a more tailored service based on factors impacting that segment, such as regional dynamics or regulatory changes impacting their particular industry.
Increased engagement via tailored product catalogs
Enterprises can leverage digital approaches such as headless commerce to create tailored product catalogs. Armed with a deep understanding of a key account’s strengths and preferences, companies can build customized product catalogs available on multiple devices. For example, a medical device provider could create a custom store for their key accounts to shop for the latest devices before their general release to the public.
Faster time to market and pricing agreements
Since digital tools make collaborating and sharing information easier, clients and key account managers can leverage them to respond quickly to opportunities. Being able to launch new products and services faster, as well as expedite the sales cycle, with quick pricing agreements, can lead to improved customer satisfaction and revenue generation.
24/7 availability for key accounts with self-service portals
Enterprises can build additional channels, such as self-service portals, to service key accounts better. These portals allow them to offer 24/7 service while maintaining high productivity and efficiency. Key accounts can access information, place orders, track shipments, and access support whenever needed, allowing managers to focus on other tasks and maximize the time spent in face-to-face meetings.
Challenges to Overcome When Adopting Digital Solutions
While adopting digital solutions can benefit any business, maximizing those benefits doesn’t come without challenges.
B2B products and services tend to be complex, so it can be an organizational and technical challenge to use one size fits all digital solutions for commerce and self-care. Much depends on the current technology stack a business is working with; integrating newer technologies could be difficult due to existing legacy systems or the need for developer and IT support.
Lack of Digitization
Many large organizations are lagging behind in offering a truly digital new customer acquisition process, even for smaller accounts. Many still rely on some static content with a form to ‘call me back’ to have a sales rep make contact. Similarly, managing a B2B subscription is often limited to standard information like showing subscription and billing details.
While these are steps in the right direction, they don’t encompass the full extent of what is possible from a complete digital transformation. As such, these organizations might need to undergo more technology and process changes to take full advantage of digitization opportunities.
Lack of Cooperativity
A vital part of the strategy for B2B is to identify where digital can reduce friction for the customer and the business and where digital can be a facilitator in seamlessly shifting a process from self-service to a ‘human-in-the-loop’ as and when needed. However, this requires complete alignment between the company vision, internal processes, and the team members executing that vision.
Without an understanding of the role digital is meant to play to help an enterprise reach its goals, companies risk implementing digital solutions for the wrong reasons and not being able to embed them properly in the business.
6 Steps to Integrating Digital Into Your Enterprise Key Account Management Strategy
1. Assess the Current Key Account Management Strategy
Conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the existing KAM strategy, including goals, processes, and performance metrics. Assess alignment with overall business objectives and identify areas for improvement where digital tools can be the most effective. Digital transformation is a long journey- you can’t fix it all in one go, so work out a vision, but choose some small, achievable first steps to start.
2. Identify New Resources and Tools Required
Determine the specific digital resources and tools needed to enhance the KAM strategy. This may include CRM systems, analytics tools, a headless CMS, or other relevant technologies.
After this, organizations need to assess whether or not their current developer and IT resources are sufficient to adopt and get the most out of these tools. It might require getting additional help from a third-party implementation partner and training for current staff.
3. Make Technology Decisions and Investments
Next, enterprises must select the best tools to support the KAM strategy. It might be tempting to go for the leading solution on the market in a particular category, whether content management, ecommerce, or another area. However, not every tool will be a perfect fit for the existing tech stack, budget, and resources available. Another software solution that complements the current tech stack might offer more to a particular business.
4. Establish Internal Channels
Set up internal communication channels and workflows to facilitate collaboration and information sharing among key account managers, sales teams, and other stakeholders. This may involve implementing project management tools, knowledge-sharing systems, building self-service portals, and more to ensure seamless coordination and alignment.
5. Implement New Infrastructure and Processes
Integrate the selected digital tools and technologies into the existing infrastructure. This may involve implementing CMS platforms and other tools, establishing data management and security protocols, and training employees on using them effectively.
6. Monitor and Optimize
Continuously monitor the performance of the digital tools and processes implemented in the KAM strategy. Track key metrics, analyze data, and gather insights to assess the effectiveness of digital integration. Digitization isn’t a one-and-done type of project, so B2B organizations should identify areas for improvement, refine processes, and make necessary adjustments to optimize how they use digital tools.
Building a Key Account Management Strategy with Content Bloom
Key account management is pivotal in driving revenue for B2B organizations. It requires a thorough understanding of customer requirements, relationship nurturing, and attention to detail.
Digital tools can help enhance any key account management strategy, providing increased engagement and faster time to market, but it doesn’t come without challenges.
Content Bloom offers end-to-end enterprise consulting and a custom-tailored approach that provides the ideal solution to your business needs. With our extensive experience in content management, custom web development, business intelligence, and more, we can help to orchestrate technology selection and implementation to digitize your key account management strategy.
Contact us today to get started on your new key account management strategy.
What is the difference between account management and key account management?
Account management involves managing a diverse customer portfolio, while key account management focuses on a select group of high-value customers known as key accounts. Key account management aims to build deep, strategic relationships with these accounts, aligning resources to maximize value. In contrast, account management focuses on meeting customer needs and driving sales growth across a broader customer base.
What is account-based marketing?
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a B2B strategy where sales and marketing teams collaborate to engage specific target accounts that align with the brand’s products or services.
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