The principles in this article reflect the real-life story of how a large business unit in a $4b global financial services firm retained and grew 100% of their strategic accounts by expertly executing these four best practices in strategic account reviews.
Periodic account reviews are a vital, required aspect of account leadership. Still, they can feel like a time-hogging task with few rewarding moments, including the dreaded rehashing of subpar elements. We will explore how to transform account reviews into a client dialogue opportunity you both eagerly anticipate.
- Make Your Agenda Part of the Journey
When client attendees see the agenda, they will understand that you came prepared to provide useful facts including carefully researched thought leadership, a glimpse into tomorrow’s opportunities through proactive innovation, and a distinct client voice in the session.
An Ideal Agenda:
- Recent Accomplishments and Outcomes
- Ongoing Projects and In-Progress Outcomes
- Suggested Future Projects and Potential Outcomes
- Other Topics of Your Choice
- Next Steps
Why should you repeatedly use the word “outcomes”? To show the client you embrace your accountability to consistently provide value to their business. The outcomes you share must be material enough to be memorable, thus motivating your client with persuasive reasons for their ongoing loyalty to you.
- Share Credits for Joint Achievements
As a philosophy, Revenue Storm emphasizes the importance of collaboration with clients as you attempt to bring value to their business. Using the word “joint” in your agenda keeps collaboration at the forefront of your preparation and execution of the account review.
Further, sharing credit with the client contacts who count on you supports co-ownership of the entire account outcomes. Are you hearing echoes of “co-develop the value proposition with your supporters” in this best practice? I hope so because an outcomes-based account review IS a vital value proposition for you. One of my favorite expressions reinforces the extreme benefits of client collaboration.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
- Expand the Invitee List
When your supporters co-own the preparation and execution of the strategic account review, many benefits evolve. One of the most impactful of these is the increased likelihood that your supporters will want to include senior executives and adjacent-department personnel in the review. This will expand your target audience for the thought leadership element of our agenda. Having a larger group of influential attendees in the meeting, participating in your thought leadership dialogue, increases your potential span of supporters in the account.
Before we dive into our final best practice, let us discuss the agenda element of “other topics of your choice.” Include this to prove that you are authentically listening. Even if the topics added by the client are difficult to address, it is better if you open the door for clients to communicate what is on their minds rather than having them force difficult topics into other meetings without warning. You must anticipate difficult subjects and prepare to respond to them to maintain professional control of the forum and minimize momentum loss.
- Be Bold and Creative
Now that you have created a collaborative dialogue with attendees, you are primed to expand into future areas of interest. These are the projects you hope to soon add to the top of your funnel!
Revenue Storm’s 7-Part Story methodology is perfect to include here but be sure to adapt the messaging into the available time. Offer to expand upon your next step thought leadership nuggets in a follow-up meeting. In this section of the account review, you can assertively convert “what have you done for me lately?” into “in addition, this is our thinking about what we could achieve together tomorrow.”
Recently I got an email from a global account leader I was coaching.
Vince, great news!
My Partner Ally from XYZ just called and said that she was able to convince her Director of Corporate Sourcing not to go out to bid for the solutions covered by our three-year contract renewal and expansion proposal.
She said the thought leadership, numbers and user quotes in our presentation deck demonstrated unique value-add contributions to their business, which earned our entry into their “Sole Source Approved” category.
She thanked me for our work and said she was excited to work with me to make money for their business rather than going in circles with RFPs and time-consuming partner selections.
Strategic account reviews can enhance trust from your supporters, demonstrate proactive innovation, bring more client contacts into your circle of influence in the account, and add a project or two to the top of your funnel! Remember, “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Personal Challenge: Approach your supporters for a candid dialogue on pursuing a strategic account review approach based on these best practices. Be transparent about the value you hope to achieve for them and yourself. Meet with your team to determine what items to include and what items you want to suggest moving the account forward. Do not forget to be bold and creative!