Article Details

Traditional Account Management is Dead

February 13, 2017
Author: Bill Wallace

Traditional thinking about account management is killing your business. There is a subtle change occurring within the world of account management that has significant implications for your revenue results. Rather than thinking of account management, you should be thinking about account leadership. The difference starts with a shift in perspective and ends with planned, superior execution. 

An account manager is focused on working within traditional frameworks and providing accounts with traditional solutions in a traditional manner. This reactive sales process lacks a compelling and strategic vision. Account leadership is dynamic and focused on bringing new ideas to the attention of key stakeholders that unlock revenue potential for the client, or protects the client from impending harm.

An account leader understands the client’s business. They have read the Letter to the Shareholders and understand the key initiatives for the year based on their discussions with client senior management. They have developed relationships based on value.

Unfortunately, account managers tend to simply focus on relationships within silos of the organization. Skills and general understanding of the client’s business must be developed if account managers are to drive the client’s business forward while enabling key functions. Leaders have a strategic vision while managers focus on tactical progress. 

Revenue Storm believes that there are three fundamental challenges you will have if you stay with the account management ideology:

  1. Large numbers of sales organizations measure their account base on revenue production and treat them accordingly from an investment point of view. A better way of reviewing your account base would be on potential for revenue growth, opportunities for solution positioning, and senior relationships. With proper analysis, you will determine which accounts can be brought to the forefront with applied strategy and actions. There is a natural bell curve within your revenue base. The tendency is to invest time with top revenue accounts or those that are in peril. However, investing in the accounts representing the middle of the curve will create larger returns.
  2. Revenue uplift can be 30% or greater. By implementing a hunting approach within the account, and building value-based relationships, you may be able to experience enough growth of revenue production to cover a significant part of your plan. Demand Creation based on thought leadership is not just the domain of business development in search of new accounts. It is critical to your success to master Demand Creation skills and evolve into an account leader.
  3. Creating competitive barriers and reducing the threat of loss or churn. By implementing an account leadership methodology, you greatly reduce the liability of account loss or revenue churn by creating barriers for competitive entry based on value based relationships, thought leadership, and proven performance. Without a shift to account leadership, you are playing a game of Russian Roulette and allowing unacceptable risk within your revenue base. You can dominate the relationship arena while influencing the political agendas to limit any forays attempted by your competition. You are playing chess while your competitors play checkers.

The shift from account management to account leadership is occurring—as part of the natural evolution of revenue responsibility. You can either take advantage and reap the rewards or struggle to achieve your revenue plan while falling behind your competitors. The time is now to take action.

Personal Challenge
Evaluate your top 10 accounts and ask a critical question: Are you managing or leading them? What ideas have you brought to their attention in the past 6 months? Can competitors say you are not proactively helping their business? List the 5 things that you will commit to doing for your clients that will demonstrate leadership.

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