There are only two kinds of customers: The ones that you know other salespeople are trying to steal, and the ones you don’t know other salespeople are trying to steal. But rest assured—or rest uneasy, as is more likely—someone out there is gunning for the business that’s now yours.
So what are some steps you can take toward Key Account retention?
1. Don’t wait until it’s a problem.
Assume that every account you have is one that a competitor would like to have. Serve the account accordingly.
2. Turn your needs analysis into an ONA
That’s an ongoing needs analysis. Needs within any company—even the companies you think you know well—are constantly changing. An ongoing needs analysis helps you anticipate disruptions and new challenges faced by your client, and be first on the spot with solutions.
3. Grow tentacles.
Don’t settle for the one or two key decision-makers you know within the company. Constantly ask, “Who else is impacted by the decisions you’re making now?” Then get to know those stakeholders and influencers.
4. Think like the enemy.
If you were trying to gain entry into someone else’ Key Account, where would you attack? Come up with some ideas, and then shore-up those likely points of entry. (Better ideas? Research? A more cost-efficient solution?)
5. Be a student of your client’s company.
Learn as much as you can about the business they are in, the heritage of the firm, and what they worry about. Work as hard at keeping the account as you did when you were first trying to earn their business.
6. Never take a Key Account for granted.
The reason it’s a Key Account is that their budget is significant. If the budget is significant, your Key Account is someone else’ Target Account. Guaranteed.