Do you know if your firm’s key account management programme is genuinely working? The only way to know is by regularly reviewing and reflecting on the programme – and making changes where needed. No plan or programme is ever set in stone or static!
Revisit the objectives set out for the programme alongside the individual plans for the key accounts – against the backdrop of tangible metrics in the CRM system – to ensure that progress is being made. If the objective for a key account was to improve the relationship, then look for data in the CRM system that evidences the improvement – e.g. how many meetings/phone calls have taken place with the client; what was the quality of those interactions; have the levels of engagement grown; how receptive have identified individuals at the client been; has the nature of feedback improved; and so on.
Similarly, if the objective was to enhance value delivered to the account, then look for metrics such as delivered value above and beyond legal matters. Have the billings increased, have new matters been onboarded, has the client made introductions to other parts of the business and so forth.
Reviewing the progress will allow you to adjust the tactical plan, if the progress isn’t in tune with expectation. To illustrate, the objective for a key account at an international law firm was to ‘improve the sentiment of the client towards the organisation’. At the end of the year, the firm disappointingly found that the needle hadn’t shifted. Changing the original approach, the firm’s Partner invited the client to ‘honestly and frankly’ present to the firm what his expectations of the firm were, where exactly they were falling short and if things didn’t improve, what the consequences would be for the organisation.
This radical approach killed two birds – one, it left no doubt in the minds of the relevant individuals in the firm of what was required to improve this relationship. Two, it served as a great exercise in relationship building with the client and perhaps even contributed towards the desired ‘positive sentiment’ that the firm was looking to achieve. It demonstrated the firm’s commitment to the client’s organisation.
This is also a good example of how reviewing and reflecting on the programme (supported by hard data) at regular intervals can help ‘think outside of the box’ to achieve the goals of the programme and indeed the business. Utilising the CRM system makes execution of the programme routine and its success or not (as the case may be) irrefutable, thereby focussing the minds of those involved in the initiative.
Additionally, it can also help assess if the goal for a key account is indeed realistic. It can well be that is some cases the original objective was too ambitious and perhaps not worth the investment for the desired return. For example, at a law firm, despite regular engagement and pitching, instructions from a key client never increased. Utilising data from the CRM system, the firm proved to the lawyers that investing their time in winning this client was futile. Rather than resorting to guess work, the firm frankly asked the client contact what it could do to ‘win’ the organisation’s business. It turned out that there was an incumbent firm who was unlikely to be ever beaten. Therefore, removing this client from the key account management programme was the right decision.
If you are exploring InterAction for key account management, please speak to your Client Advisor, who will guide you in developing a successful programme. Client Advisors at LexisNexis InterAction have helped numerous firms achieve success in this area.
This is the third and final blog in this key account management programme series.