Growing your Highest Potential Customers: A Roadmap

Do me a favor: take a look at your current customer list and ask yourself, which of these customers can we not afford to lose? Got it? Now, do you know what’s being done to make sure that doesn’t happen? Finally, do you think other leaders in your organization would answer those questions the same way you did?  If you answered “no” or were less than confident in any of these, it may be time to create or revise your key accounts strategy.  This can lead to:

  • Alignment on high potential customers
  • Deeper relationships and broader business with selected customers
  • Employees capable of growing those relationships
  • More consistent business and improved forecasting with selected customers

So how do you get there? Leverage our 5-step model to create a strategy that works for your business.

Create plan

Start by scoping out your plan. Why now? What’s at risk or what could be gained? Who are the key players? What’s your sense of urgency or timeline? Where do you need buy-in? Build that buy-in with your key players to get you all on a shared foundation.

Set Direction

Now the real work begins. Setting direction is about identifying what you’re trying to achieve with this strategy, and by when. To get that accomplished, what resources do you need? What kind of impact will hitting these goals have on your business?

Core Processes

These next two phases are the heavy lifting. Core processes are the elements that make your strategy work. For example, many organizations choose to segment their customer base and create targeted approaches for each segment. This could also include performance expectations, structural changes and new disciplines.

Key Skills

What capabilities does your business, teams and individuals need to deliver on this new strategy? Start by identifying what you need and where your capabilities are today, then bridge the gap. This could mean new expectations and skills for existing team members, like shifting from operational tasks to a more proactive approach to understanding their customer and building relationships, or you may find you need new to source new talent.

Monitor and adjust

A great strategy needs to be monitored and adjusted constantly. Who is accountable for what results? How will you track progress? How will you know if you are on or off course?

Of course, underneath each of these areas is a fair amount of work, depending on the complexity of your organization and strategy. Here are a few watch-outs from our experience:

  • Don’t skimp up front. If you don’t build the buy-in, get the right resources or build a strategy that suits your business, you’ll pay for it (in many ways) later.
  • Make sure you have the right resources to get the job done well.  
  • Set realistic expectations at the outset for both time to complete the work and time to see results.  
  • Whether it’s a sweeping transformation or incremental adjustments, a thoughtful approach to implementing it should get you the best results with the least disruption to your business. Be sure to leverage good change management techniques along the way!

An effective key accounts strategy protects your relationships with your most important customers and helps ensure you’re not leaving business on the table. What do you view as a critical element of a key account management strategy? What are the biggest blunders you’ve seen? 

By Holly LaBoda, Partner and Co-Founder of Luminaries Consulting, specializing in organizational learning, training, and strategy. She has worked with leading companies such as C.H. Robinson, Emirates Group, Land O’Lakes, and Coca-Cola Enterprises. She and fellow Co-Founder Sara Black will be presenting the Transportation Sales Workshop Oct. 21 in Chicago, IL. Limited seats available - grab your spot! Learn More & Register

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