“Toto, I’ve a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore”
– Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz.
As all of us have experienced, business has evolved dramatically since 2008. One of the areas most affected is account management with business partners. For many years you only needed a team of reactive people who could effectively service the needs of business partners.
Not anymore Toto!
Train Them to Steward, Not Service
It is essential to realize that ANY on-going business partnership between companies requires a smart effective team of trained account managers to proactively steward their assigned accounts to preempt conflicting issues and grow each relationship. Simply “servicing” their account won’t cut it. If they aren’t ahead of the curve, you’ve got a fox in the hen house. Meaning, there will always be a new suitor that will come in and “buy” your existing relationship with hundreds of promises to acquire a beachhead into your client that you say you have locked up. No relationship is ever locked up post 2008.
A Little Paranoia Goes a Long Way
A great client of mine once said, “In business it’s always good to be a little paranoid.”
That said, account managers must be trained to create business growth strategies with their relationships, assess what their clients goals and challenges are and then align their products/services to answer these acknowledged desires. The very real threat that if they don’t do these things they risk losing the client to an aggressive competitor is a good motivator. But also, the more your team of account managers does these things, the more they’ll be seen as stewards to your accounts versus custodians. And they will keep/grow the business for the future.
To initiate this process, choose your top three business partner relationships to strengthen and determine where your team might be most vulnerable. Give me a call and let’s talk about it.