Sales Techniques & Strategies

How to nail proactive account management in 2023 [summary]

Jonathan Hubbard
Jonathan Hubbard
March 1, 2024

“What’s more effective is spending time doing important things before they become urgent - that’s what drives careers and sales growth.”

A sales trainer with 18+ years experience, Ambrose Blowfield is a believer in the powers of proper account management practices, meeting mastery, and sales behavior. For 2023’s Making Your Number 1, Jonathan spoke with Ambrose to uncover his mindset for proactive account management, and how sales managers can support their sellers to nail it.

We also looked at Numerik’s top new feature for account management: Customer Goalcards. Too often, rebate initiatives and promos go unseen and don’t influence customers’ buying behavior. Goalcards are the way around the problem.

Read on, or watch the recording below, to learn about Ambrose’s proactive account management mindset and see how Goalcards are the best tool for the job.

Ambrose Blowfield’s proactive account management mindset + Numerik Goalcards super tool

Key account management VS proactive account management

According to Ambrose, there are 3 key differences between the ideas ‘key account management’ and ‘proactive account management.’ 

Using a proactive mindset for account management is the only way, Ambrose explains, to grow sales territories or sets of clients. Analyzing sales data to find new opportunities within accounts, finding new ways to add value, and having a ranked call cycle, choosing the right customers to visit are all proactive actions which can drive account growth.

What does proactive account management look like? 

Taking smart action

After the accounts have been ranked, and goals set, taking time each quarter, and month, to plan out what can be done in the time available to hit the goal. Rather than visiting a client to have a coffee, or visiting for the sake of it, pinning down actions which can add value.

Knowing the numbers

Analyzing each account’s numbers. Based on their order history, are there hidden sales opportunities? A cross selling gap here, an opportunity to add more value, to deepen the relationship, to get access to new branches and new product lines. Leveraging knowledge to take the right actions.

Leading the conversation

Using knowledge of each account’s numbers and potential gaps to go into meetings primed with strong questions. E.g. “In this region 25% of people's sales are usually in this product category- but this client’s only doing 10% of their sales in this area. What's the problem?” 

Where account managers go wrong

Not spending time with the right people

Ambrose explains that despite ranking their accounts, account managers will often fail to spend time with accounts based on that ranking. In a global survey from two years ago, the Sales Mastery team found that although 88% of participants rank their accounts, only 44% follow a call or territory cycle based on their rankings. For sales managers, this is an alert to realize your team likely isn’t spending their time on the right people despite knowing which accounts should be prioritized.

Not taking responsibility for their time

An account manager’s time cannot be spread evenly over each customer. “That’s customer service,” Ambrose says, “that's reactive and that's not going to grow your career or territory.” An account manager may spend 2500 hours a year working- ensure they’re using their time with the right clients when needed.

Not knowing their numbers

Without having a handle on their clients’ sales data, account managers won’t know who to invest their time into, or how they should invest their time. Ambrose says it should be an account manager’s responsibility to know their data- they just need to stay disciplined with it. 

Getting distracted by ‘nice’ low-growth clients

Account managers are ‘people’ people who can get distracted easily by fun small clients who make good coffees and have great banter: “I think there’s a naughtiness there… we’re all guilty of it.” Ambrose adds that they’re also heart-based people who will do what they’re told, and can often end up with their customers dictating how their time will be spent. Again, a matter of discipline.

How can sales managers support their account managers?

  1. Build a deep understanding of your account managers and catch up on an ongoing basis. Create the structured process your account managers need to build accountability: think weekly coaching one-to-ones and 1hr sales meetings. 
  2. Assist your account managers with their strategic planning. You can do this by sitting alongside your account managers and asking them who their top 20 customers are, what their revenue/GP goals for the year are with each customer, and how they think they’ll reach those goals. 
  3. Empower your account managers to take initiative and responsibility for knowing their customers’ data. Account managers need to have a strong handle on their customer’s data, since they’re the ones talking to the customers.

Jonathan on what Customer Goalcards are and why are they good for proactive account management

What are Goalcards?

Goalcards are a goal tracking tool made to help account managers set shared sales goals with their customers. An account manager may have set an internal goal for an account, set up a product promo, or even a rebate/loyalty program to keep the account engaged. However, it can be hard to keep customers engaged with these goals in real time. If the rebates/promos aren’t in their mind, it’s not working. That’s where Goalcards come in.

How do they work?

Goalcards help customers track their progress and purchases by taking live sales data and presenting it to them in a snappy and simple way. 

Customer Goalcards

Customers are given a login to Numerik to see the Goalcard their account manager has set for them. Whether the account manager has set up a product promo or rewards program, the customer can log in at any time to see their live progress towards their goal. They can see which product groups, products, they’ve been purchasing more/less of compared to previous years, and even how they’re tracking towards their goal compared to last year.

Customer goalcards

How do Goalcards support proactive account management?

Goalcards are a great tool for proactive account management because they keep rebates and spending data front and center with customers. 

Having shared goals and spending data accessible from both sides of the customer relationship keeps the conversation focused and deliberate. With a Goalcard in place, it’s easy to lead a customer conversation with something like “just checking how we’re going on our annual goal. These are the products which are doing best for us at the moment, these are a little behind.” 

The broad brush approach of setting a rebate and forgetting about it can’t keep up with a proactive account management mindset. With a personalized Goalcard, your company can stand out against competitors: the visibility provided is unmatched.

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