You did it! You won the deal, closed the sale, and blew through your quota . The question is – now what? You’ve just spend weeks or months nurturing this relationship. So what is life is like for your prospect after the sale?
Enter: Account Managers. In our increasingly customer-centric society, developing deep customer relationships is more important than ever. That’s why when a sales person makes that hand-off to an Account Manager, they want to know they’re customer will be as enthusiastic post-sale as they were during the courting process. Account Managers (AMs) typically work with a client or group of clients to help them achieve their post-sale goals. Different than Customer Success Managers, Account Managers represent their clients in non-support interactions. AMs are often charged with growing their accounts through contract renewals or upsells by understanding and advising both long and short-term growth strategies for their customers.
Curious to learn how the best Account Managers ensure your clients’ success post-sale?
One insider answer: Connect with your customers. “Having that connection will help make both sides realize that there are humans on the other side of the business relationship,” says Jackie Williams, Manager of Account Management at Yesware. But that’s just the beginning. Read on to see what our industry expert has to say about meeting your customer’s post-sale expectations.
What qualities make for a successful Account Manager?
“To succeed as an AM, you have to be a self-starter with a growth mindset. You also need to be hard-working, stay organized, remain patient, exhibit empathy, and most importantly– maintain a certain level of resilience.”
How do you connect with your customers on your accounts? What benefits come from it?
“It’s so important to form a connection with the customer. I always like to learn something about the customer that you can connect with them on a personal level (pets are always a great conversation starter). Having that connection will help make both sides realize that there are humans on the other side of the business relationship. Little touches like sending out a handwritten note after certain milestones help as well, since most people rely so heavily on email.
In order to have a strong working relationship with the customer, it’s important to make sure you understand their goals instead of forcing your definition of success upon them. For certain accounts, certain usage patterns might make sense even if it’s not what we’d typically see as a success.
Having in-person meetings whenever possible is a great way to strengthen the relationship. Customers that I had the best relationship with were always those that I had meetings with in person. In-person meetings are also so much more effective!
Learning as much as you can about the customer’s business and internal processes will go a long way. It’s important to be a value add and learning their processes allows you to be more consultative in how your solution fits into their current workflows.”
How do you manage relationships with difficult accounts?
“It’s easy to immediately get defensive or jump in immediately when a customer brings up a problem or an issue, but when you do that there’s the risk that you don’t fully understand the issue. As an Account Manager, I think the most important thing is really understanding what the customer’s objective/issue is. Letting them tell the full story of what their goal/issue is and listening is the most important. It’s also very important to ask a lot of follow up questions to make sure you understand the end goal and are not jumping to conclusions.
Most customers just want to know that you’re on top of the issue. When you’re working with a customer on a difficult situation, it’s important to make sure that you’re keeping them updated and following through on the timeline commitments you make (ex: don’t say you’ll follow up tomorrow if you won’t).”
What challenges can impede success for an Account Manager?
“Organization: There’s a lot of items that you need to stay on top of and follow up on. Some ways I like to organize are creating a to-do list of what I want to accomplish that day, setting up Yesware reminders on emails (external & internal) that I want to follow back up on at a later date.
Being proactive with accounts: Our team has a quarterly quiet week where we cancel internal meetings so that the AMs can set goals for their accounts. This allows us to have more proactive conversations in our 1-1’s to talk about what we’ll try to accomplish with our accounts that quarter.
Staying on top of renewal dates/customer usage: We’ve moved the creation of renewal opportunities to our Salesforce consultant, so the AMs know exactly what’s coming up in the coming months. The opportunities are created 4 months in advance. We also use Gainsight to track renewal dates through CTAs & then use Yesware Campaigns & Templates to get in touch with our customers.”
Strategy over Sales
Don’t assume that Account Management is merely an extension of the sales team. Account Managers oversee their clients’ expectations and support customers throughout their journey. AMs are responsible not only for developing customer relationships after the initial sale, but also charged with developing a company-wide understanding of how to drive growth.
Being empathetic yet resilient, staying organized, and connecting with your customer are simple yet effective ways to increase a customer’s lifetime value, boost profitability, and grow your company.