In the conclusion, we'll discuss three topics:
The seven keys to managing strategic accounts.
The three benefits of strategic account management.
A game plan for moving forward.
Let's review: the seven keys to managing strategic accounts are:
Key 1: Define strategic account management as a business rather than a sales initiative. Unless everyone in the firm owns strategic accounts, value initiatives will take far too much time to design and implement. And even then the supplier may be one account phone call away from disaster.
Key 2: Create firm alignment and commitment to meet strategic accounts' needs and expectations. It's one thing to declare strategic account management a business initiative. It's a very different thing to get all supplier employees headed in roughly the same direction.
Key 3: Start with the right number of the right strategic accounts. Start with a few accounts that offer the greatest strategic opportunities.
Key 4: Create human resources support for strategic account management. Strategic accounts are probably your firm's greatest assets, but close behind them are your effective strategic account managers.
Key 5: Create firmwide relationships at multiple levels of relationships between the firm and its most critical accounts. Establish parallel linkages that raise emotional switching costs between you and your strategic accounts.
Key 6: Regularly quantify and communicate the value received from and delivered to strategic accounts. Remember: if you don't quantify value, it doesn't exist, either to your firm or to the accounts.
Key 7: Use technology judiciously. Technology solutions may seem dazzling but you need to approach them with high caution. Such solutions can create a prohibitive payback for strategic account management.
Are there other keys? Of course, and each firm will prioritize them and our keys differently. These are, however, the seven keys we believe any firm seeking successful strategic account management needs to deal with. If they do so thoughtfully and creatively, they can then reap the rewards of successful strategic account management (Figure 9-1).
A sustainable competitive advantage.
Greater account loyalty.
Greater account profitability.