In a B2B landscape, where many sales teams continue to come under RoI scrutiny ( a common scenario since the GFC , 10 years ago), an old outdated paradigm seems to be hanging on longer and better than it deserves. Single point or single face Account Management. The notion that the sales exec is the single face , the sole conduit for all needs the customer may have of the supplier. It is not cost effective any more and usually doesn’t serve the customer as well as this philosophy’s proponents think.
At The Next Level, we are starting to see the (re) emergence of the philosophy of the dual faces of account management. In this model, the sales exec “teams up” with a phone based, internal sales exec. We are seeing this increasingly being applied to both account management of existing customers as well as prospecting new customers. In the prospecting scenario, the phone based internal sales exec finds, qualifies and flushes out the new prospects to hand over qualified leads to the external sales exec who continues the prospect to (hopefully) conversion to new customer.
In the account management scenario, the phone based execs execute all proactive transactional duties, eg order take, sell the deal of the day, book in the training sessions. The external sales execs execute all non-transactional functions, eg perform the trainings, negotiate the strategic sales win-wins, play the trusted advisor role. Importantly, in the prospecting scenario, the internal sales execs execute all conversations and activities with the prospect until hand over. At this point, the external sales execs conduct all conversations and activities until conversion or “walk away”. By contrast, in the account management scenario, the customer contacts and interactions alternate all the way along with both functions (internal sales and external sales) focussing on their allocated customer relationship management responsibilities, but at the same time covering off what their sales exec colleague canvassed and did/did not achieve on the previous interaction with the customer. To “mop up” and reinforce each other’s contribution to customer relationship management – without duplicating effort.
When seamless, and co-ordinated, this dual face of account management becomes a very cost effective pathway toward competitive advantage.