Account executive, account manager, account director, sales representative, etc. are all titles that are often used interchangeably. Many larger companies draw strict distinctions, but sometimes in smaller organizations it’s hard to decipher exact responsibilities for certain roles.
Assuming that a great seller would seamlessly transition into an account management position or be able to simultaneously handle all of the additional responsibilities that come with the position is misguided.
Regardless of whether a seller’s role entails also being an account manager, there are 4 key takeaways from account management that can improve any seller’s ability to be more effective.
1. Think Operationally
Some sellers get caught up in making huge promises to their prospects with their selling hats firmly on. However, looking at your prospect strictly from a sales point of view can potentially cause problems with the delivery of the product/service down the road.
Account managers must always be thinking of what’s possible as well as what’s realistic given the current resources. Typically, account managers will err on the side of under-promising so that later they can overdeliver. As the saying goes, patience is a virtue, and account managers know the payoff of waiting to check whether something is doable or not.
As a seller, don’t get sucked into making bold claims and having an answer always available. If you’re not sure about something, it’s better to check and be certain. Making yourself aware of operational limitations will help you make sounder decisions as to what you’re offering clients.
Your customers may also notice that you’re more aware of the small details instead of being strictly focused on making the sale. It will show just how much you care about their individual experience.
The best sellers and account managers spend most of their time listening. They are really getting to know what the customer’s needs are, instead of simply focusing on delivering a sales pitch.
Spend less time talking and pushing your solution onto your prospects so you can spend more time opening a two-way conversation. It will be much more effective if you take the time to listen and offer your client’s individualized solutions that will actually address their specific concerns.
Make your customers feel special and unique. They’ll be much more willing to buy and renew.
3. Think long-term
Account managers are in it for the long haul, while prospects can seem like a fling to some sellers. Dedicate yourself to making the sale, but also keeping the customer.
Thinking about the long-term relationship is where you will stand apart from other sellers. An important strategy for any seller includes up-selling and getting renewal business, which all starts with the account management process. By staying focused on the future, you’ll be able to work more closely with your customers and expressly provide for their needs.
HubSpot, an inbound marketing and sales platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers, provides truly great products, but manages to differentiate themselves with outstanding account management and support. Their entire philosophy stems from delighting the customer.
The way in which they delight their clients is by sticking to the following formula:
While this concept is something that is best applied at an organizational level throughout the entire company, it is something that sellers should make particular note of.
Approaching each discussion with a prospect focused on innovating a specific solution to their pain-point should be the foundation. Appropriately communicating the how, who, what, when, and where and listening is the next step. And finally, educating and being able to express the value of the solution is key.
Selling, managing, and building customer relationships is a time-consuming process that requires a certain level of understanding not only about the customer’s business, but also about your own business. Sellers can learn a lot by thinking like an account manager who looks at each deal through through the lens of: thinking operationally, consultatively, creating long-term partnerships, and how to delight each customer.