Great Key Account Managers manage at the customer level—but world-class KAMs think like senior leaders. The most standout KAMs are keen strategists who have a big-picture lens that guides their day-to-day actions.

What can you do to think and act more strategically?

  1. Know your unique value proposition – Be clear on what you can offer your customer that no one else can. Your unique value has to be genuinely one-of-a-kind, obviously meaningful to the customer, and something you can deliver consistently, time and time again. What can you offer to your customer that they can only find at your company? From your product/service? Or from you, personally? And, how will you leverage that value to achieve maximum benefit for your customer and your organization?
  2. Make strategic choices –Think about where you are, and where you want to be. Put a stake in the ground: define the three most critical things you’ll do to get there. Then comes the higher level strategic thinking: choose what you WON’T do. Veteran strategist Michael Porter has pointed out that every positive decision comes with a compromise. The key is to acknowledge and plan for the tradeoff ahead of time. What are the trade-offs you should be making to enable focus on the choices that will have a significant impact?
  3. Make sure tactical plans are “on strategy” – An inconsistent strategy doesn’t work, so once you have your strategy, stay true to it. Resist the temptation to jump at ad-hoc customer requests or demands or to match a competitive move for the sake of matching it. Stay the course by planning and executing projects that support your three strategic priorities.

Asking yourself or your team the following questions will set you on the path to thinking like a strategist:

  • What areas does our customer think that we’re superior/inferior in, versus our competition?
  • How do we uniquely help our customer to succeed?
  • What are the biggest challenges that our customer is struggling with that we could really solve?
  • How can we leverage our strengths to help our customer win?
  • What is holding us back from helping our customer win?
  • How are we uniquely capable of helping our customer execute their strategies and achieve their goals?
  • How do our company/brand strategies align with our customer’s strategies?
  • How can we play a unique role in helping our customer manage or limit their weaknesses/threats?
  • How can competition exploit our weaknesses? How can we exploit theirs?
  • How are we our own worst enemy?
  • What marketplace opportunities or trends are we well–positioned to pursue and to support our customer in pursuing?
  • What’s one important thing no vendor has ever delivered before?
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