In 2017, there is a lot of talk around using a very targeted approach when trying to win new business, often called an Account-Based Marketing strategy. This usually revolves around focusing on a set number of target accounts to win new business - see Freddy's guide if you are keen to learn more.
However, some estimates put the cost of winning new business at between 4 - 10 times as expensive as retaining your existing customers, so it is crucial to apply the same rigour and attention when looking after existing clients, so as to maintain & increase revenue.
Last week I attended the PM Forum conference with my colleague, Ben. The second keynote of the day came from Anna Lind of JLL who heads up the EMEA Client Relationship Management team in Europe. She gave us an insight into how JLL approaches Key Account Management (KAM), how it worked and a structure which we could all try and implement in our own business.
Key Account Management was defined as a structured way to maintain to maintain, protect and strengthen those relationships with your key clients. Anna broke down their programme into 6 parts.
#1 The Model
1. Choosing the companies you want to come on board: This is the first & probably the most important part. You might base your decisions on historic revenue, growth potential, strength of relationships but whatever it is, be clear on what the criteria are / aren't for including them on the programme and stick to it.
The aim is to make the most of this commercial relationship and strengthen your existing bonds with a view to winning more business, not to just get your mate in a client round for a nice dinner.
The next step might be to decide on if they should be told if they are on the programme or not. If they know they're a part of it, it might help them buy into your mindset/way of doing things and make them feel all warm & fuzzy. However, they could also turn the carrot into a stick and abuse their cherised position, so great care needs to be taken at this early stage.
2. The people to be a part of the programme: Anna described a "T-Shaped individual": in short, someone with a deep level of understanding and expertise, as well as a broad attitude which will allow them to flourish in any situation. The aim isn't to have hard-nosed salespeople getting every penny out of the client - it's a two way process and you're looking to strengthen that relationship.
#2 Client Intelligence
Having a flashy CRM system is not the pre-requisite to having a good client intelligence gathering process. The key is to drive the right behaviours and to have a systemic way of collecting and sharing information, (something for which a CRM is useful, of course!) with all relevant stakeholders.
Information is power and everyone needs to have access to the same info. Weekly/monthly brainstorming session/coffees etc. work a treat.
#3 Skills Development & Training
Few teams will have all of the skills that you need. Providing a training programme ensures people get rewarded in terms of self-development as well as the hubris of being in a special team. Some key areas to focus on?
Equally, Anna suggested that best practice sessions with similar people from different industries can also work a treat as it give you a insight into how other industries leverage their skill sets in different ways.
#4 Reward Structure
Most people will ask, "What's in it for me?" You want to drive a long-term focus with regular short-term wins so as to keep people motivated.
- The participants need to feel some tangible benefit?
- Exceptional behaviours need to be rewarded and rewards must be available to all participants.
- Equally, public kudos + senior recognition can be very valuable.
#5 Client Feedback
Anna mentioned that 90% of customers won't give feedback and will just not renew i.e if what you are doing is rubbish and you don't ever ask, you will never know until they end their contract!
- As such, need to be regularly discussing with clients as to what is important to them and changing accordingly.
- All feedback should be based on evidence, not assumption.
- Speak to the Business Decision-Makers every 12-18 months and ask them for their honest opinion.
- Acknowledge and follow-up all feedback - if there is no change / acknowledgement, the process quickly becomes redundant.
- This process becomes easier the longer it's in place, the first hurdle is actually starting / asking those awkward questions.
#6 Accountability & Governance
"What gets measured gets managed." Your programme needs to be held accountable for all of the good & bad results, but equally, when implementing a new programme, it needs to be given the opportunity to not do well & learn from its mistakes.
Anna suggested having your biggest doubters involved in any governance process is key if you want to make your programme a success.
Visible, powerful leader will be very effective as well with regards to overall success as well. It has to have some weight behind it.
The programme which Anna implemented resulted in a 30% increase in revenue from those clients on the KAM programme. Not bad at all!
Devoting the same care and attention to your clients after they have signed the contracts will pay long-term dividends and secure you (as an individual and as a firm) a long-term competitive advantage.