Taking KARE of account management
It’s a simple strategy model that helps you and your team optimize their time in the field
KARE, as you probably guessed, is an acronym that provides an excellent model for sales managers and salespeople to apply when planning account management strategies for current customers as well as prospective new clients.
Effective account management should include 3 essential goals:
• More business from current accounts
• Acquiring targeted new business
• Fewer accounts lost
KARE is a brilliant and simple strategy model that will help you and your team optimize their time in the field. Hopefully, by now you’re eager to find out what KARE stands for and how it works, so we’ll break it down one letter at a time.
K is for keep: Keeping your current base of profitable customers pleased with your service delivery and product quality is really an essential role for everyone in the company. Salespeople need to apply balance between their new business responsibilities and their customer relationship roles. Spending too much time in the comfort zone with friendly, longtime customers robs salespeople and their companies of new opportunities.
And then there can be those problem customers who can also rob salespeople and others in the company of precious time and resources. In those cases, consider if it’s worth the effort to keep their business or politely let it go.
A is for attain: When you evaluate a new business target, it’s about finding a good fit. But before you go after that big prospect, ascertain the risks and costs in pursuing them and figure out the investment you’re willing to make. Are their current suppliers under long-term contracts? How strong are the relationships? Are they neutral or weak, meaning penetrable? Do their policies require excessive red tape? Find out all you can and when it’s clear there’s a reasonable opportunity for success, go for it!
R is for recapture: Recapturing previously lost or inactive accounts can be an overlooked area of opportunity. Things change, people move and different opportunities can emerge over time at companies where you once did business. For some reason, their business went away and you considered it gone for good. But what about today? Here again, you need to look at their vendor relationships, the growth potential and whether that past customer is worth a reinvestment in sales pursuit. Sometimes, elapsed time is on your side!
E is for expand: Your best opportunity to expand revenues is often with your “A customers.” Those are your current major accounts and customers with strong growth potential. Since you are already in the door, finding additional sales opportunities such as value upgrades and enhanced service packages can offer your salesperson “low-hanging fruit.” In terms or your KARE strategy, your “E” client list is generally one to invest in and nurture. Beware though. Your high-quality accounts, that is, profitable as well as easy and fair to work with, will tend to be targets for your competition. We suggest investing in them to defend your position and strengthen your inside relationships.
Remember to focus on the margins, that is the bottom line (profit) as well as the top line (gross sales). Large corporations with big brand names can be ego-feeding to sales reps and might be huge opportunities on the surface, but these accounts don’t always provide the kind of return that’s worth the cost of pursuit. Put KARE to work and you’ll know in which direction to point your sales team and what accounts deserve the most attention.
Kevin Hallenbeck, principal of Sandler Training- Manchester, can be reached through bestsalespeople.com or 603-232-1520.