I am

account manager

THE ACCOUNT MANAGER 4.0 IS NOT A SALESPERSON

I am

account
manager

THE ACCOUNT MANAGER 4.0 IS NOT A SALESPERSON

The account manager is your key person to deliver the promised value to clients. Turn this commercial role into a services delivery role and hold this person responsible for the customer value journey.

Turning products into services, is one of the challenges that Industry 4.0 promises to bring to manufacturers. On top of drastic changes in the innovation department, services will also affect the company organization and structure. But also the companies that have been delivering services for ages, will have to rethink their orgchart. A key succesfactor is the way you ensure services to be successful over the long term.

Over the years we have discovered that most B2B companies have only a small percentage of new clients each year. Pareto analysis often shows that the famous 80% of the gross margin is from clients that have been around for many years already. Success next year is therefore substantially depending on the capability to keep and grow the biggest clients of this year. That is why there are account managers, who try and maintain a positive relationship with clients over the long term.

TURN YOUR ACCOUNT MANAGERS INTO CUSTOMER SUCCESS MANAGERS

The good thing about services, however, is that there are other people in your organization that are in constant contact with the client – and they have more impact than a commercial relationship builder. If they fail to deliver, the account managers have to run more than an extra mile to get that client happy again. On the other hand, if you can close the loop much faster, clients stay happy and there will be no drama to repair. That’s why we advise to keep the account mangers much closer to the services delivery organization. Make them liable for the results of the clients, so that they will run an extra mile all the time.

And there is more good news. When the account manager is part of the services team, you might want to rethink value offered to the client, and charge some money for the services of the account manager. Small advice, in this case, rename the account manager to become the customer success manager. Clients consider the function ‘account manager’ as a free necessity, whereas the value of the customer success manager can be worth some euro’s. That’s exactly the euro’s you are (or will be) looking for, when prices are going down.

Jan Lagast is managing partner of Forte, European specialists in industrial sales & marketing 4.0. Forte offers career and team mentoring for sales & marketing managers, executive education to enlighten their bosses, and help communications managers create strong industrial brands that are real ecosystem-magnets. Forte boosts your readiness for the commercial side of industry 4.0.