In the common sales paradigm, account managers spend far too much time preventing loss than they do promoting growth. Service and support activities are important, but your perception of what drives growth, and how to achieve it may be misguided. Here's what I've learned when it comes to achieving growth within existing accounts.
Service doesn't drive growth
While good customer service does have a meaningful impact on customer retention, it has no consequential effect on account growth.
Typically, an individuals' success is measured by a single sales target, usually a number that they need to hit. The problem with this, is that there's no distinction or incentive between revenue and growth.
In this scenario, it's not surprising that customers with a consistent, long-term spend are going to receive the most attention. An account manager is likely going to spend a large fraction of their time securing this spend by ensuring that the customer doesn't leave. The misconception is that to do this, they need to delight the customer by going "above and beyond". However, the reality is that anything more than a consistent, low effort customer service experience is a waste of time.
You shouldn't be striving to provide an exceptional level of customer service. Settle instead for ensuring that you deliver a consistent, low-effort customer service and customer experience across your business.
Customer stakeholders and decision makers don't really give a toss about that "next level" of perceived customer service extravagance. They'll likely forget your attempts to delight and flatter them rather quickly. One thing you can be sure of - is that they will remember with a vengeance those times that your service fell short of their expectations.
Get the basics right and strive for consistency and ease of engagement. The rest of your time should be spent on activities that promote account growth through delivering customer success.
Net new accounts are the hardest to win and they shouldn't be what you're relying on for growth. If you focus your efforts properly, a number of key accounts can make all the difference in the long run...
Growth is about asking your customer to do something different. Embarking on a journey of continued customer improvement is an effective way to establish a sales pipeline and keep sales conversations alive for longer. But most importantly however, is that at the end of the day - your customer achieves success through meaningful change.
Improvement and success looks different to different organisations. However the fundamental principals are largely ubiquitous, regardless of what it is you're selling and to what vertical.
- Provide your customer with a unique, critical perspective on improving their business. Leverage your experience and expertise to to recommend solutions that solve challenges and problems.
- Take your customer on a journey of improvement. Work closely, and collaboratively with your customer architect the strategy and vision.
- Outline the ROI of the journey - and the commercial relationship between your organisations.
For the technology industry, programs of work such as digital transformation and application modernisation are good examples of catalysts that facilitate larger, long-term programs of work.
With all that being said, none of this is going to work if you're not actually interested in delivering true value to your customers. You need to be genuinely interested in delivering the correct solutions to solve your customers challenges, and to help them to succeed and grow. Treat customer success as a currency.
Trust is fundamental in any relationship, and extremely important for growth. Coupled with the above principals - this is the framework for establishing prosperous multi-year relationships with your customers.