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Marketing

What Is Strategic Account Management and Why You Should Use It

By Business Coaching Marketing Sales Strategy No Comments

As a business coach, I’ve come to find that business owners will often overlook the advantages of client retention and tend to be rather shy in giving the right amount of focus, love and attention to both their new and existing clients.

And although it might seem like a heinous crime and a blatantly obvious area to focus on, you’ll be surprised at how many businesses don’t put the customer at the center of their attention.

That’s why making use of a strategic account management (SAM) plan allows for the development of an in-depth strategy that puts the customer in first place and draws out their needs so that you’re able to provide more solutions and retain them for the long haul.

Let’s look at how it works, why it’s necessary and how to differentiate it from the traditional sales approach.

What Is SAM?

Simply put, strategic account management focuses on building healthy and fruitful relationships with all of your clients or customers – especially the important and high-value ones.

It makes use of in-depth research and strategic planning to identify new problems for you to solve with the goal and purpose of enhancing the customer experience, strengthening loyalty and paving the way for better returns.

It’s almost like finding ways to invest in your clients to get better profits and secure recurring revenues.

Using a SAM plan comes with some pretty big benefits, too: it builds and strengthens customer loyalty, it stimulates and motivates new growth, and improves profitability.

Setting up this sort of plan usually involves every department within your business, as it should be a strategy that everybody is aware of and actively participating in. This way, everybody contributes to a system that seeks to improve the interactions, experience and relationships with existing clients.

How Does It Differ From Sales?

There are a few key differentiators that separate SAM from sales.

The easiest way to look at it is that sales primarily focuses on seeking and capturing opportunities, while SAM focuses on providing consistent value and satisfaction to clients that result in more returns – usually being implemented after the sales cycle.

Sales makes use of small and dedicated teams that use short-term strategies and planning to achieve results. This is quite different to SAM, which functions across the entire organisation and acts in an intimate manner that has far more involvement with the client.

In other words, sales is for drawing in and getting more clients; strategic account management is for retaining and getting more out of clients post-sales.

SAM is seated in between both sales and operations in that it uses more complex, long-term strategies to both add and extract value from clients. Clients are also generally more open and receptive to strategic account managers as they’re viewed as partners, where sales teams have a relationship with clients exclusively based on the exchange of goods/services.

The adage, “It’s cheaper to keep your clients than find new ones”, basically sums up and differentiates the two from one another; retaining clients through enhanced satisfaction, better service, improved relations and attention to detail is far more beneficial than the costs, maintenance and unpredictable nature of sales.

What Is The Purpose of A SAM Plan? 

If a SAM plan is implemented correctly, then there are certain key benefits and results that can be used to measure its success.

By using a SAM plan in the correct way, you’re able to identify new opportunities in your existing client base, allowing for you to upsell far more efficiently as you cater to new problems that they might be facing.

It also gives you far more intimate access to your clients in terms of influence, as you understand their needs and desires on a much deeper level – this also allows for more innovation with your clients to improve on new and existing services.

With this influence and access to your clients, you’re able to keep your competition at a distance, as a sense of loyalty is fostered between your company and the client.

How To Get That SAM Plan Started? 

Firstly, you need to identify your key clients and create an offer that they can’t refuse – one that is unique to them and that other clients don’t get unless they’ve been ‘upgraded’.

You then sit those clients down individually and determine what the perfect system looks like from their perspective. This will give you more insight into what they desire most and will help you figure out the best way to deliver on their expectations without annoying them.

Bear in mind that you ideally want to focus on anywhere between 5 to 25 key client accounts when you engage in this strategy, so you’re not overwhelmed by too many.

Strategic account management usually follows a 10-stage plan when it’s implemented correctly:

1) Develop The Customer Profile

At this stage you determine what the client/customer looks like, what they want, what they do, their goals and the products/services that they use.

2) Analyse Relationships

Determining how the relationship came to be and what influences your relationship with the client is the next crucial step. You look at their attitude towards you, their concerns and expectations, the frequency and methods of contact, and a SWOT analysis of them.

3) Identify Strategic Requirements

The third stage has you looking at specific requirements for the strategy to be implemented effectively. Looking at the history of sales, any issues that have been expressed, what it would take to impress the client, as well as the current and future needs of each department should all be measured and evaluated.

4) Analyze New Opportunities

With the mounting information that you’re gathering on your client(s) and the business as a whole, you can begin to target and determine any new opportunities that might benefit you.

Figuring out ways to leverage your resources to find new opportunities, identifying what obstacles need to be overcome, discovering whether there are unique offerings that your business can offer, and correcting mistakes that haven’t been attended to is your goal.

5) Map the Decision Process

At this point, you need to plan out and explain to the client your decision-making process. Here, you determine and explain which factors and people will influence the decisions, who the key decision makers are, explain the external pressures that exist, and the level of influence each decision-maker has.

6) Analyze Competitors

Gauging how good or bad the competition is with the client can provide very helpful insight. During this stage, you have the client rank you against other competition in terms of speed, innovation, cost, quality, service, etc.

Together with the client, determine the benefits of buying from you over the competition, who their preferred choice is and why, and use a SWOT analysis of the competition from the client’s perspective.

7) Establish Objectives

Looking at goals and objectives that can be measured will help in setting out deadlines and key changes that need to occur for the plan to take effect. Look at your expected sales and profits from each client, map out the objectives that need to be completed in the next 3 months, and determine what relationships you want with your clients.

8) Develop Account Strategy

Working on a strategy that focuses on each client account will be your next step. Here, you figure out how to successfully present your USP, determine the success factors for each account and how you aim to implement these factors, look at how you’re going to provide better value than your competition, and how to motivate the client to purchase more.

9) Coordinate Action Plans

In the penultimate stage, you look at the best ways to implement the necessary actions that need to be taken. Figure out who will be responsible for taking action, how you will accomplish these goals, the order and process that needs to be taken, which methods to use for measuring success, and what resources/people you need for the strategy.

10) Manage Account Relationships

Your final stage would be focused on the management, maintenance and measurement of those relationships that you develop with your key clients. You need to look at more initiatives that you can take to improve relationships, identify which clients give you the greatest return on your efforts, look at how you’re going to extract feedback and improve performance, and how often you measure client satisfaction.

Get A SAM Plan Going 

Remember that a SAM plan must be both measurable and iterative in its implementation. Look at it more of a long-term process as opposed to a short-term solution.

Try not to make the mistake of putting your best sales staff in the position of a strategic account manager, as not all people are comfortable with the change in roles and responsibilities. It might also result in losing some of your best sales staff.

It might seem like an intricate and long-winded process, but I assure you, it’s worth it.

And instead of looking at changing your business to embrace these new roles and this entire process, think about outsourcing the job to someone that has experience and practical knowledge in this field.

That someone could be me.

I’ll help you set up and manage a SAM plan with ease and comfort; other than all of the advice, skills and insight that I bring to the table as a business coach, I’m more than capable of providing you with a plan that will have your best clients fall in love with you.

I’m so good at it, you’ll probably fall in love with me.

So get that SAM plan going and bring me on board.

+2783 253 3339

brent@spillly.com

 

 

Need New Staff? Then Draw Them In With A Great EVP

By Business Coaching Hiring Marketing No Comments

Finding employees to fill very specific roles in your business can be a pain – especially if you’re a company that primarily provides niche or novel services.

And perhaps your marketing and sales are pretty much on point, but to take on more growth and demand, you need certain skilled individuals to fill these often unconventional roles.

This usually brings up two issues; the scarce skills in your industry make it that much harder to do and finding a starting point to draw in the perfect employees isn’t always easy.

So how do you attract new potential employees to your business and get them eager to work for you rather than the competition?

Well, your favourite business coach is here to let you in on a little trick:

The Value of an EVP

We all know that branding is critical to the success of any business, that’s why you’ve probably already worked on a value proposition for your clients.

In case you need a reminder – a value proposition is usually a statement that provides clear detail around the value, benefits and advantages that your company is capable of giving to potential clients and is used to spark interest and attract new clients to purchase your solution.

By using what’s called an EVP (Employee Value Proposition), you’re able to draw in new, skilled employees and let them know what your business is about and why they’d be stupid not to work for you.

The EVP is pretty much the same as a value proposition for clients, just reworked to focus on potential employees, instead.

Ultimately, it allows you to position the employer (your company) as a desirable brand to work for. It’s used to market your business as a favourable and tempting choice for new employees and gives them a clear indication as to why working for your business is an ideal choice for them.

In using an EVP that is both well thought out and desirable to the employee, you increase the likelihood of acquiring top talent and retaining your staff for longer – while giving yourself a competitive edge over the competition.

Marketing to Attract ‘Scarce Skills’ 

Known by many as ‘scarce skills’, there exists a demand for a range of roles that need to be filled within growing industries. Think about software and web development, network and information security, engineering and healthcare professionals – each one of those skills is highly sought after and companies often struggle to fill those roles. 

Other than the fact that it’s challenging to get those ‘scarce skills’, it can be an even bigger struggle to position yourself as the ideal business to work for.

Seeing as there is already a lack of people to fill those roles, you’re automatically put up against bigger companies that also require those skills, but that have more to offer potential employees; they often have bigger budgets (giving better salaries and benefits), nicer work environments (office space, meals, beverages, etc.), and reputations that provide their staff with credibility, network and exposure.

So the big question becomes: ‘what value can I bring to my staff?’

With an EVP, you can flex your brand to potential candidates, by showing them the opportunities and advantages that come with working for you, as well as why you’re a better choice than the competition.

It’s your job as a business owner to determine what the best offerings are to attract and acquire talent in the most effective way possible.

So What Does An EVP Look Like?

In constructing an employee value proposition that works well, you need to look at your own company’s strengths and unique offerings. This way, you’re able to offer value that your competition struggles to compete with and that potential talent can’t seem to find in other businesses.

For your EVP to be effective and work well, you need to consider a few important factors:

Firstly, you need to think about and map out the financial advantages of working for your organisation; how much are employees able to earn, what bonuses or incentives exist for them and do you offer any other financial benefits that come with working for you (stock options, shares, etc.).

Make sure to then address and give clear indication of the benefits that they can receive if they become an employee; do they get paid leave, retirement funds, health insurance or gym benefits?

Also look at and list any advantages aimed at career growth; do you offer paid education (sponsored courses), any training or mentoring (leadership, technical, career guidance), and opportunities for development (promotions, different positions and areas)? Bear in mind that if your financial advantages aren’t the best in the industry, beneficial career growth opportunities will help with attracting new talent.

And finally, your company culture and work environment; is there a healthy work-life balance that you can offer, are the hours flexible, will you be recognised for your efforts, is there a well-functioning team that you will be a part of and does your environment resemble a strict and formal set-up or is it relaxed, fun and dynamic?

Your EVP should contain and market the advantages of working with/for your company and include as much information as possible regarding the financial, cultural and developmental benefits that you’re able to offer.

How Do We Begin Construction? 

Knowing what your employee value proposition should contain will help you understand the steps that you need to take in order to construct it as effectively as possible.

You need to first assess what it is that you can offer the potential talent, identifying and understanding how your business can impact the employee.

With that in mind, gauge and evaluate your current and past employees to see what they love and hate about working for your company. This way, you can figure out your strengths and market them – and you can discover your weaknesses and work towards fixing them.

Now that you’ve identified what makes your company great, start writing out and constructing your EVP. There are loads of templates and examples on the web to get you started.

Next, you want to promote that EVP through the right platforms and channels, so that people can see and respond to it. If it lands up in the right places, it’ll attract far more attention and either draw in the potential talent or be shared by people that know people.

As with any strategy, your final step is to evaluate, measure and determine whether or not this approach is working. If it needs to be reconfigured, reworked or rephrased, then identify where you might have gone wrong, rectify any issues and try it again.

And there we have it.

A great trick to use for attracting new talent and identifying new ways to retain your existing employees.

You can thank me now – leave a comment, send me a message, give me a call, share the post.

Or!

You can take it a step further and think about the positive difference that I can make for your business… And take action.

From client/employee retention and satisfaction strategies to making effective use of the freelance space, all the way to the mindset and psychology that drives entrepreneurs and leaders to achieve the phenomenal – I’ve got your back.

I come loaded with the insight, experience and just enough secret recipes to get the most out of being a business owner and achieving great success.

Keen to find out more? I’ve got just the thing for you:

Ring ring! +2783 253 3339

brent@spillly.com

 

Limber Up For The Double Niche

By Coaching Consulting Marketing Uncategorised No Comments

I recently had a client tell me about a great idea of theirs, one that would have them come across as more remarkable, standing out from the rest of the crowd and I naturally recognised it as one of the concepts that I often preach to business owners:

A little something, called the Double Niche.

Upon recognising the tactic, he asked me “what is that? Some kind of kinky bedroom move?”

No, not quite. But, I mean it could be.

The double niche is a great way to take your area of expertise, find a niche market and become the best-known person to provide a valuable service surrounding that.

Not Just A Lawyer, But The Best Gay Marriage Lawyer Around

 

In making use of the double niche, you need to know what you do best and find a niche audience to cater to in providing that product or service.

When explaining it to my clients, I often use the example of a lawyer that primarily focuses on gay marriages; by taking on the added label of ‘gay marriage’, you become more than just a lawyer or a lawyer that practises in divorce, but seen as a professional in that very particular field.

When someone hits the search bar with “looking for a gay marriage lawyer” then you should be all over the first page of Google and hard to get rid of – almost just like a glitter-bomb (all over the place and impossible to clean-up).

By adding a niche area of the market that you provide your services for, you’re creating an impression of more knowledge and expertise in that specific field – keeping you on the iron throne and at the forefront of anybody that is in need of your unique offering.

Sure, your USP is very important in differentiating you, but I find that it’s not always enough and that you should find ways to add a niche area of expertise that you’re comfortable in.

Another example might include being a graphics designer for pharmaceuticals, where you’re given the advantage of the network that it provides and you’re able to tap into a demographic that caters to that niche market.

You should be the first to pop-up on Google when people search for the service that you provide, especially when combined with a particular niche-area.

People recognise, or become aware of your ability to provide a service in that particular area or field and it narrows their options down to only a few choices that they are left with. If you execute the double-niche well, then you should be that choice.

Become World-Class Through Double-Niching

 In making effective use of the double-niche strategy, you polarize your audience and appeal to a small segment of a particular market – this will make you the go-to person for that service.

As a business coach, clients ask, “why not just appeal to everybody?”

I often explain that with the high levels of saturation and homogeneity in so many areas of expertise, by trying to appeal to everyone, you often end up appealing to nobody.

You can branch out to and be recognised by a world-class selection of clients in using this technique well and ultimately build a strong presence in those niche markets. People prefer to narrow down all of the options to make life easier.

You also offer a very unique solution that nobody else is offering; becoming remarkable and sticky in that field, as well as the perfect choice in a world full of choices.

My Double-Niche Project, BBBRAP!

 I’ve made good use of the double-niche technique in my own unique and remarkable way. With all of the tools at my disposal, I was able to find a perfect fit for both me and a large portion of my clients. 

Coming up with it was quite easy, as I took something I’m great at (business coaching) and blended it together with something that I love to do (ride motorcycles); so I came up with my Business, Bikers and Breakfast Radical Accountability Programme (BBBRAP).

In going after entrepreneurs and business owners, of any size, that also owned a motorbike and were on the lookout for coaching services, I came up with a fun solution that people really enjoyed being a part of.

Rather than just focusing on entrepreneurs, or just motorcyclists, I opted for both niches and took on a small and dedicated market. It was a unique solution and nobody else was doing it, so by default, it became quite popular.

As Seth Godin said, “in your career, even more than for a brand, being safe is risky. The path to lifetime job security is to be remarkable.”

Double-niching will make you stand out and be exactly that: remarkable.

Target the people that are searching for whole sentences in the search bar, “biker entrepreneur looking for a coach,” and be the first option that shows up on the results page – like scattered glitter all over that first page, so people know who the best choice is.

A good friend of mine Richard Mulholland talks about how “your USP (unique selling point) is actually your UPS (unique problem you’re solving).”

There’s always a problem that needs solving and that unique solution can be discovered quite easily with the use of finding your very own double-niche.

Figure out your double-niche with me:

Let’s have a meeting, a cup of joe, or a chat sometime about your niches and interests.

What direction(s) can you take, what do you both love doing and are great at doing?

I’ll be around to help you figure that out and you don’t even a need a motorcycle!

+2783 253 3339

brent@spillly.com