Hey, Sales Leaders!
“Are you getting the full, deserved recognition from your key customers for the value you provide above and beyond your traditional products or service?”
Most B2B companies have a pool of strong, repeat customers they would consider a “Key Customer” or “Key Account” (KA). Developing a KA requires resources beyond the product or service you sell to ensure they continue to buy from you.
I was scrolling through a LinkedIn sales group where someone questioned how to best prepare for a key customer meeting coming up. The author was seeking guidance on an early KA and how to increase the level of relationship.
SO, let’s turn this back on you. You lead a #B2B sales organization; What value above and beyond do you provide customers that you’re not getting the recognition for? Are the behaviors of your KAs reflecting the relationship level your sales team should have (or you think you deserve)?
There’s an exchange of goods (product(s) or service(s)) for revenue, but what else is being exchanged? Is it a one-way street? For example, you have a KA who frequently purchases your product. In addition, you’re also providing your own internal marketing resources to help them grow their business. Are you getting recognition for those value-added resources other than a well-performing product? Does your relationship level reflect their behavior? Some leaders will say that’s what’s necessary to keep an account happy…but your margins slip as resources are given away.
Where KA management falls short in a typical B2B company is the KA management team fails to get recognition for all the investments they’ve provided above the typical exchange. This could be anything from marketing support, extreme customer service resources, hosting events, or even a special discount. These would all be considered “investments” that some KA’s may receive above others from a sales/customer service team.
In a KA, the customer is purchasing your product in exchange for dollars. Sometimes we as managers or salespeople become so aggressive in making sure the KA doesn’t leave, that we extend our offer beyond product without receiving anything in return.
Now you might be saying “Colin, those investments are necessary to win the business and keep someone happy and buying from me!” True, but does the behavior of the KA reflect the investments you’ve provided to them? Do they act like a KA or do they commoditize you and go out to bid frequently?
I’m not suggesting that these value-adds are not important. On the contrary. BUT, if you’re not getting the recognition for resources going in, what’s going to stop that KA from changing suppliers or cut funding to your company? Think of the last time a KA stopped using your service OR you lost a bidding process after a KA had been with you for multiple years. Were you getting the recognition you deserved?