World-Class Key Account Managers Communicate with Influence
Customers find distractions around every corner, so capturing their attention and precious time is a real feat in itself. World-class KAMs, though, don’t stop there. They know that every single customer interaction is an opportunity to engage customers with what they and their company have to offer. They are adeptly influential in their communication, showing at every turn that their brands and services are a perfect match for what their customers need.
How do they do it? Remember the 4As:
- ANTICIPATE: Resist the temptation to act. Before an informal meeting with one buyer or a formal presentation with multiple stakeholders, invest the time to understand your audience – their role, their experience, their influence level, their motivations, etc. Be sure to think about what your audience might have on their minds as they listen to you—both the good and the bad.
- ACKNOWLEDGE: Don’t shy away from customer negativity and pushback. Instead, gather your courage and tackle customer challenges head-on. By acknowledging what’s on their mind and really putting their worries on the table, you put your customer’s fears to rest and open them up to what you have to say. And, if your customer has deep concerns, you can address them directly and productively.
- ALIGN: It’s not enough to talk about the features and benefits of your products or services. You need to create a story: a compelling, rational narrative motivated by the customer’s own needs and objectives that demonstrates how your products or services precisely deliver the qualitative and quantitative benefits that they’re looking for. Your story should start and end with the customer’s perspective and what matters most to them.
- ACTION: How often have you, or your team members, finished a customer meeting feeling good, but then realized that the customer didn’t really commit to anything? Don’t forget to conclude each and every presentation and meeting with a call to action. It might not always be the order itself. But at minimum, make sure you secure customer commitment to a specific next step that moves the opportunity and relationship forward.
World-class KAMs strike a fine balance between empathy for the customer, focus on their own goals, and accountability for gaining customer commitment, despite the many distractions that make it challenging to do so.