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Rethinking Key Account Management: adapting and refining your Sales organizations response to the new realities

Managing the future

Most executives recognize that the real assets of a company are embedded in the quality of the relationships between the company and its most important stakeholders, such as clients or customers, employees and suppliers. Developing strategic relationships with customers should therefore be a central issue on the CSOs agenda moreover in current context.

Key Account Management is a systematic process for managing key interactions and relationships with most valuable customers. It focuses on the creation, implementation, execution and evaluation of an overall plan to guide the account team in developing new relationships at the C-level, aligning the best resources to the most profitable opportunities and delivering what was promised.

Everybody would agree on the strategy, even more when you know that the Pareto principle applies here also with 20% of the customers generating 80% of the revenue/profit. However when looking at our recent CSO Insights study, execution seems different:

51% More than half of the companies recognize that they need improvement in selecting key accounts 60% CSO interviewed understand they lose deals because their competitors have established a better relationship with their customer 52% Also recognize their Key Account plan need improvment

Why Key Account Management has become increasingly important

The consolidation of buying power in the B2B sector over the last decade has increased the importance of key account management across numerous industries: It is long evident in the Consumer Product Goods witness the co-location of 500 P&G and over 200 Johnson & Johnson personnel in Fayetteville, Arkansas; headquarters for Wal-Mart. This large number of personnel is taking over the management of competitor product categories and supply chain responsibilities for their customer. There was a time, when Wal-Mart may have four sales people from 4 product lines, calling on the same customer. This manner of interaction is no longer acceptable. Consider the wholesales fuel (gasoline) business. One large, multinational energy company use to work jobbers or regional distributors of fuel must now contend with wholesalers and grocery chains who take over a larger share of the retail fuel market. This requires a new response from the supplier and the industry value chain. Witness the automotive industry: - A tier 1 automotive supplier knew they needed to improve key account management capabilities when their OEM customer was more knowledgeable of their global pricing policy than their individual account teams; the supplier was at a significant disadvantage when negotiating prices that were inconsistent by region. - Or consider one premier tire manufacturer that like the fuel supplier must now learn to sell to the likes of Costco and major multi-country distributors in Europe. Not to be overlooked, emerging market multi-nationals are now working to penetrate mature markets moving from undeveloped markets in Africa, SE Asia, to mature markets in

Europe and the U.S. where they must compete with already established key account competitors. In these circumstances, it is just not technology and low cost that wins the deal, but also the capacity to show product development roadmaps and ensure highly reliable service in a complex environment where risk tolerance is zero and where English is the first language. These examples and the increasing concentration of buying power in many industries have increased the level needed to improve key account management practices.

What are Top performers doing?

The 10 key success factors of Key Account Management. Accenture has identified what high performing sales organizations are doing to enhance business and relationships with their most important customers:

5. Define a clear process of what is a key account, determining target customer needs, and implementing procedures to ensure that they receive customer service based on total value. 6. Conduct regular key account plan review meetings to monitor action plan and sales results that are integrated in company-wide review cycles. 7. Have maintenance process to maintain key account power map. 8. Have a partnership approach, joint process and product improvements with regular target measurement for strategic customers.

1. Start with a customer-based segmentation strategy, implementing differentiated approaches for key accounts and other tiers. Criteria include existing and future revenue growth, strategic position in the industry. 2. Align sales organization (global versus local) and process steps with their key customers, establish longterm partnering agreements on an added-value-reward sharing basis and have intensive cooperation through mutual knowledge sharing.

9. Have access to a common repository of information the customer profile, relationship maps, sales data, won/loss analysis, internal organizational charts, etc. that facilitate coordinated communication at both tactical and operational levels to allow for one common message. 10. Embed your account plan in a sales tool that is visible to all team members. All aspects of planningincluding optimization of resourcesdeveloped, distributed, and tracked electronically.

3. Align organization to the customers organization, when possible: single account leads with similar functional heads for product, supply chain, marketing, and operations. 4. Carefully select the Account Planning Team with the right complement of skills to develop robust account plan. This is a cross-functional team composed of dedicated and indirect personnel.

Successfully implementing Key Account Management

Outside the traditional increase of share of wallet in existing customers, which is for many segments of the B2B sector the primary strategy for growth, an effective implementation of Key Account Management requires not only organizational and process changes but above all a change of mind.

2. Increase win rates and focus on valuable opportunities

We also often hear our clients say they cant afford the luxury of losing a single opportunity, even more in the current economical context. However this should not obscure the fact that all the opportunities do not require the same degree of attention. To know which opportunity is more important than another, we have established a detailed approach that through a set of critical success factors, questions, and job aides analyze throughout the sales: - If you are able to win this opportunity, - If you want to win this opportunity, - If you win, will you then be able to deliver what was promised. Again this may sound obvious, however systematically applying this method as early as possible in the sales cycle has allowed some of our customers to better anticipate next stages. To give one example, who has not heard this common: lets win this first, and then well see how we can deliver it. Well one of our customer has paid the price for this. While he was responding to an RFP that he helped co-authored with his client, while he offered the best technical solution, while ... everything seemed favorable to his victory, he lost because he had badly prepared the delivery phase. This phase could only be done in partnership with two companies on the market that each had signed an exclusive agreement with two of his competitors.

3. Build a momentum
An effective key account management program calls for investments. However, as the benefits have shown, there are pay offs for these investments. Helping all companies to agree on the gains and make the investment when both time and money are in short supply. Nonetheless, it remains a challenge. A diplomatic way to enable sales force to realize their lack of global view of the account as well as strategic alignment, hence the opportunities they may be missing can be achieved by organizing a Sales Bootcamp. Bringing your best resources in the same place to simulate an Account Plan session and elaborating with them the best value proposition based on this new common understanding of customer needs is really powerful. This was done with many of our customers and therefore being able to identify in a few days new opportunities hitherto unexplored has often been a good stimulus for sales force adherence and willingness to change their way of working.

1. Know your Customer

The fatal flaw made by most account teams is not doing their homework on the customers business needs, related to their industry and their position in this industry. Typically, account teams are great at identifying the opportunities to exploit with their customers; however, few take the time to understand the customers position. This yields a shallow understanding of their customer that too often is apparent in client discussions. Operating from a deep understanding of the customers business allows the account team to conduct conversations on things other than price. While performing an assessment of key account planning activities at a customer in the C&HT industry, we were able to identify up to 13 very specific account plans that were not shared across the account team. All of them had valuable customer insights but scattered among several documents, the account team was not able to exploit its full value. To address this challenge, Top Performers define, deploy and maintain one consolidated key account plan to gather into one single place all strategic account information. Moreover, it allows to share best practices to the whole Sales Key account team members but also to the Top management.

Accentures approach to Key Account Management

Given the benefits and value creation potential, Accenture sees it as wise to start implementing or further rollout Key Account Management, particularly in a transition from a difficult economy to an upturn. This is the moment of opportunity to improve the quality of key customer relationships. Accentures approach to KAM is broad, reaching strategic, tactical and operational levels, encompassing internal and external activities. It begins with building a vision, strategy and defining actionable KPI set, all of which are aligned to the overall company strategy. It also takes into account the current economic situation and recognizes that business benefits need to be quickly realized.

In Accentures experience, the rewards were to: increase customers intimacy and start moving the overall customer satisfaction index from average to high improve win rate and capture rate as well as deal profitability by up to 15% through improved opportunity qualification and value proposition development reduce companies competitor customer influence through the identification of new coaches and supporters at C-level

Develop a unique competitive advantage through quality improvements, innovation and faster time-to-market. For example, our recent success stories are: For an large manufacturer company, the deployment of an industrialized Key Account Management process combined with rigorous key account plan reviews helps to improve the win and capture rate by up to two digits. For an international company in electronic industry, the opportunities qualifications optimization, and the shared and detailed power map documentation impact the win probability ratio by more than 10 points.

Fig. 1: Accenture Key Account Management approach

Vision and Strategy

1. Understand Customer

Customer Relationship 4. Evaluate Performance Joint Business Success 2. Create Plan

3. Execute Plan

Processes Enablers

The Accenture KAM approach is helping companies to achieve high performance in key account management. With its commitment to find the optimal solution for every unique situation, Accenture has successfully implemented this KAM methodology for several clients around the world in recent years. Putting our benchmarking data to work helps clients to pinpoint the areas where they have the most potential to gain and recommends leading practices to shape the solution. Accenture has developed an approach that considers all elements leading to successful Key Account Management (Figure 1).

This model, which is aligned to the generic CRM business process, includes the vision and strategy, all relevant processes and essential enablers. The vision and strategy: Account planning driven by a consolidated, common understanding of the customer and vendors presence at the customer. The processes: continuous closed loop process integrating customer relationship activities within account planning at each step and including clear Roles & Responsibilities definition for Account planning reviews. The enablers: crucial components to make key account management successful. From an organizational

point of view clear roles and responsibilities have to be defined and spread throughout the business. Employees need to be trained in the specific strategic account management tasks and should have personal goals clearly defined in order to align incentives with strategic direction and optimize results. From a technology point of view standardized tools and templates, including Organizational Power Map have to be defined and used. To turn the methodology into reality, Accenture has developed a set of strategic Key Account Management tools and templates based on Accenture standard practices, pilot projects and client experiences (Figure 2).

Fig. 2: Accenture Key Account Management assets

KAM Process Descriptions of the key steps, Inputs and outputs and roles & responsibilities associated with the KAM Solution Describes how to use the enablers of KAM solution (CP, VP, AP, Workbook). Providing clear instruction on operation procedures in daily work and R&R assignments within the team Explain how to complete templates and provide examples with job aids

KAM Handbook

KAM Template guidance

Customer Profile Consolidated understanding of the Customer business, including industry environment, organization, strategy and financial analysis (ppt format) Consolidated view of Company engagement with the Customer including project history, competition analysis, market share analysis and relationship analysis (power map, ppt format) Tactics and plans to achieve the objectives for the coming year. Aligned to multi years strategy and based on a deep understanding of the Customer (Customer Profile and Vendor Profile). Incorporates Budget and Market space analysis output (ppt format) Centralized account management action plan to realize the objectives of the Account Plan: key dimensions include market target, relationship management, competition management (xls format) Graphical illustration of Account KPI providing a monthly breakdown of actual against targets to identify performance gaps (xls format)

Vendor Profile

Account Plan

Account Plan Workbook

Performance Dashboard

About the authors Fabrice Marque is a Senior Executive at Accenture, leading the CRM Service Line in France. He is responsible for our Service Transformation offerings at EALA level: multi-channel strategy, customer experience design, contact centre activities organization, etc. He has more than 15 years of experience within Accenture, and has worked across various industries: Telecom, Electronic and HighTechnologies, Public Service, Insurance, Energy, Health Mahfoud Chebboub is a Senior Manager at Accenture, leading the CRM KAM offering in France. He is member of the CRM Sales Transformation practice with a specialty on B2B industries.

Contacts : Fabrice Marque Mahfoud Chebboub

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