With changing dynamics and business models in the legal sector, key account management in firms continues to have a central business development objective. Increasingly, I’m working with several clients to help them devise a methodical approach to this discipline, which is in fact a fundamental part of any CRM programme. In this blog series, I’ll articulate the key components of a well thought through and consistent key account management programme.
Formulate and qualify
Foremost, build a key account management framework based on specific, qualified considerations. Which clients are essential to retain, where are the obvious cross-selling opportunities, which clients make up a large portion of revenue and require careful management, and of course, which organisations are targets for brand new business?
Gain a holistic view of each of the identified key clients. Learn about the services the organisations offer, where their offices are located, how many people they employ, their current and projected revenue, what relationships already exist with decision-makers in those organisations, any potential areas of conflict, the competitor landscape and such. More crucially, understand their business challenges and objectives.
This kind of deep insight will enable you to analyse the resources and expertise that exists in the firm to suitably service and win those clients. For instance, if a key client is looking to open an office in Malaysia, you can explore internally which lawyers are best placed/have the appetite to nurture the account and what the strategy to win the business should be.
Clear objectives and reporting
Despite the best intentions, in some firms key account management programmes don’t tend to be as successful as the firm would like them to be and the main reason is that the people involved aren’t completely invested in the programme and sometimes don’t appreciate its value.
Ensure that there are clear objectives for the key account management programme – it could be revenue growth, improved client satisfaction or win new business.
Similarly, it’s imperative to define success. Based on my interactions with clients, some firms consider better collaboration and focus on key accounts as a success criterion, while others have defined more billable hours as a success metric.
As part of the programme, build in a cadence for client meetings (both internal and with the client) and reporting, so that progress is continuously measured – not just once a quarter when the programme review formally takes place. It ensures that the programme is a priority for involved fee earners of a day to day basis.
This approach and visibility will also enable you to risk-map relationships so that even if/when key individuals leave the firm or the client, the work or programme will not be jeopardised.
Technology supports, it doesn’t devise
The firm’s CRM system should be the go-to tool for key account management programmes. But the number one mistake firms often make is in thinking that InterAction or their CRM solution can devise a key account management programme.
InterAction is software and requires the right input to do what its users want it to do. InterAction is hugely flexible and is well equipped with functionality to support firms in exactly the way in which they need assistance. The solution can genuinely make the key account management programme an intrinsic part of lawyers’ daily activity so that the related information ‘comes’ to the individuals as opposed to the fee earners or business development executives actively seeking out the data to deliver against the programme’s requirements.
For this to happen however, the solution needs to be configured to the requirements of the firm’s key account management programme, and the right data inputted into the system.
Say company X is a key account and InterAction holds all the necessary information related to it. While there are 40 contacts for that company in the system, you know that there are three named individuals who are critical to securing this business. The lawyer assigned to this key account tactically includes the three individuals into his or her ‘platinum’ contact list. Thereafter, every time there is activity associated with these contacts – e.g. presence at events, engagement with content, meeting with colleagues and so on – the designated lawyer is sent an alert. Simultaneously, InterAction throws up hidden insight on these individuals – e.g. who else the three individuals know in the firm, their connection with other clients and such – to automatically keep the organisation breast of their activities; and thereby facilitating timely action as needed on the part of the lawyer/firm.
If you are exploring InterAction for key account management, please speak to your Clients Advisor, who will guide you in developing a successful programme.