'I want my sales people to':-
• Have a clearly defined strategy for each key account
• Demonstrate that they have all angles covered with an account management plan
• Identify and manage key decision-makers
• Understand how buying decisions are made
• Use a process to actively manage the account.
Ask customers what they look for in a good account manager and the responses take on a different emphasis. They express the skills in some or all of the following ways:
'I want account managers to:-
Show that they are constantly thinking about us
Be active in bringing us new ideas
Be highly responsive to our needs and problems
Show sensitivity in working with our decision-making processes
Support us with state of the art technology, products and processes.
In summary, the supplier sees the account manager as someone whose job it is to PROTECT AND GROW the account. The customer sees the account manager's primary role as someone whose job it is to CARE FOR AND CULTIVATE their account. The reality is that the account manager has to fulfil both roles, and bridge the gap between these two sets of requirements.
The tensions facing account managers surround the issue of how they should position themselves between these two requirements. If they are seen to be acting too much in the interests of their own organisation the trust between them and their customers may suffer. If, on the other hand, they are seen to be acting too much in the interests of their customers, they may be perceived as being disloyal, and the trust between them and their organisation may suffer.
Account management is about handling this unenviable task of pleasing two masters, each of whom will have a say in the account manager's success.
Account management therefore is about BRIDGING THE GAP between the interests of suppliers and their customers.