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Understanding Sales Account Management Roles. P2
Four different types of sales account management
Enterprise Manager; Account Manager; Sales Manager; Sales Account Manager
This is a common mistake which many organisations make. They promote their top performing sales executives to Sales Managers in the hope that their ‘magic’ will rub off on the rest of the crew.
However, they are not trained to sales manage and, all too often, their sales start to struggle as they become distracted by their managerial duties for which they lack the skills.
For this very reason, we will be covering Sales Manager and Sales Leader roles in a separate document, Understanding Your Company’s Sales Roles part three.
So, if you haven’t already read part one of this series, here’s a quick recap on the benefits of understanding sales roles, which is essential if you are responsible for the hiring and/or management of sales executives.
Understanding the different types of sales engagement and their associated roles, along with the skills and attributes that each executive should be able to demonstrate, will mean that you:
• are better placed to spot the right talent when interviewing,
• can ask more appropriate and probing interview questions, and
• are in a position to provide more meaningful and supportive management downstream.
Enterprise Channel Manager
The Enterprise Channel Manager is responsible for engaging with business leaders in larger or more significant channel partners and for developing a high-level partner engagement based on achieving mutual, long-term business success. This senior role requires not only sales skills, but also some level of management and organisational skills from the candidate.
This role is defined as the ability to manage your company’s business relationships with a portfolio of independent channel partners to achieve all relevant sales and marketing targets and all associated Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) whether “soft” or “hard”.
This involves understanding the business dynamics of the channel partners, their target market and the goals and drivers of the candidate’s own company. It also requires the ability to create ‘win-win’ situations for all parties, with each channel, together with the ability to recognise when this is not possible and the diplomacy and tact to deal with the consequential changes that would be required in the channel structure.
Abilities to look out for:
Candidates for the Enterprise Channel Manager role require a wide range of capabilities to perform the role, which includes the following:
• Deliver Sales and Marketing targets and KPIs from nominated channel partners.
• Develop revenue growth plans with each channel that underpin own-company strategy and set and agree targets and KPIs.
• Work with channel partners to deliver results from specific marketing initiatives.
• Build strong strategic and operational relationships with each channel partner.
• Provide leadership on coaching and developing sales teams within channel partners.
• Grow a wide and broad support network across all stakeholder groups and act as a catalyst, facilitating delivery of key initiatives through virtual teams.
• Manage the delivery of a differentiated experience for channel partners and end customers.
• Identify and grow new channel partners, providing business development support and expert advice.
• Be bold, yet tactful enough to close down relationships with failing channels in a way that does not impact negatively on remaining channels or own company.
Key Account Manager
Key Account Manager (KAM) is one of the most critical roles for any organisation and offers long-term potential for delivering substantial revenue gains and maximising retention of the most important clients. Note that this proactive role is a significant step change from Account Manager, and can only effectively be filled by high-calibre individuals capable of delivering a complex mix of sales and business skills while operating comfortably at C suite level.
This very senior business role requires: significant knowledge and understanding of business strategy and goal setting; the ability to research and analyse market dynamics; interpretation of results and determination of likely outcomes and the associated actions required; creation of business and financial value propositions; high-level, cross-company and partner engagement skills; and a strong sense of purpose, direction and leadership.
The KAM role involves detailed research and analysis of the dynamics within the key account and of their market, as well as the ability to demonstrate how, and by what means, the relationships will mutually enhance both businesses over time. This relates particularly to growing agreed, significant business metrics, such as Net Present Value (future free cash flow) for both organisations
Abilities to look out for:
Candidates for Key Account Manager roles require a wide range of high-level capabilities to perform this role, including the ability to:
• identify and prioritise key accounts by mutual future growth in key financial metrics such as NPV;
• develop a deep understanding of the customer business, strategies, markets, competitive landscape and operating methods;
• craft customer-focused strategies that deliver positive impact for customer, customer’s customer and own business;
• create offering models for key accounts, engaging cross-company or beyond as required, to deliver real business value propositions;
• build appropriate relationships at senior levels across customer, partners and own business and communicate effectively;
• develop clear commercial strategies that create a true ‘win-win’ for all parties;
• manage conflict at all levels, driving through acceptable outcomes for all parties;
• deploy effective negotiating and selling strategies in the key account and internally, using other resources as required to achieve outcomes.
The role of an Account Manager is to engage at C suite level to proactively retain and develop existing client relationships and income from a portfolio of significant clients, and also to develop and grow new client relationships. An Account Manager is expected to manage a client portfolio in order to maximise the long-term mutual value of the relationship for both parties.
Account Managers build strong relationships with clients by providing them with prompt and knowledgeable support and guidance, becoming the go-to resource and their primary point of contact within the company.
The role involves the ability to identify, define and present propositions that provide mutual benefit to senior management, both in the client and in the Account Manager’s own company, as well as having the ability to understand and drive towards the achievement of pre-defined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Skills and experience in managing projects, campaigns, co-ordination of team members, developing timelines and setting deadlines in order to achieve client and own-company objectives are also required.
Abilities to look out for:
Candidates for an Account Manager role will require an above-average set of skills including specifically the ability to do the following:
• Quickly gain an understanding of a client account, whether existing or new, identifying the way they work, what they expect from the company and what opportunities exist in the client for the company’s offerings.
• Align the company’s KPIs against the client’s expectations and needs and develop a structured account plan to achieve all goals and targets.
• Establish close relationships with client stakeholders and own company stakeholders, communicating goals, objectives and timelines clearly.
• Proactively seek to grow the business within each client, whether existing or new, for mutual benefit.
• Manage expectations of all stakeholders using highly developed communication, listening, questioning and reporting skills.
• Be able to analyse results, explain variances and update account plans, in accordance with changing conditions found at any time.
• Develop and manage project and sales plans to exceed all targets, whilst concurrently improving customer satisfaction.
• Deal with all aspects of campaigns and campaign management, maximising their impact and optimising the results.
Sales Account Manager
The role of a Sales Account Manager is to proactively retain and develop business across a wide portfolio of typically smaller clients – while also identifying new clients as necessary – with a focus on maximising the revenue from each client. This is achieved by developing appropriate relationships with the client, and finding new and innovative ways to continually enhance the client’s preference to buy from them, rather than from any other source.
Sales Account Managers are typically very proactive, positive and outgoing in nature and will constantly seek new areas of opportunity within existing clients. They will have a very good telephone manner and will also be very personable and persuasive when face to face with clients.
One additional key skill required by Sales Account Managers is the ability to quickly qualify whether a client is a good, ongoing revenue prospect. Where this is not the case, they will need to be able to diplomatically ‘park’ that relationship and fill the revenue void by accurately identifying and targeting new prospects where there is a better return available.
Abilities to look out for:
Candidates for a Sales Account Manager role require above-average qualification skills and will also be very capable of positively engaging clients both over the phone and face to face. The skills required for the role include the ability to:
• quickly gain an understanding of a client account, whether existing or new, identifying the way they work, what they expect from the company and, what opportunities exist in the client for the company’s offerings;
• align the company’s offerings to the client’s needs and qualify the scope of the potential opportunity base within the client;
• establish close relationships with relevant client stakeholders, communicating goals, objectives and timelines clearly both to the client and internally;
• proactively seek to grow the business within each client, whether existing or new, for mutual benefit;
• manage expectations of all stakeholders using highly developed communication, listening, questioning and reporting skills;
• build an emotional bond with the client ensuring they develop a ‘fondness’ for the company and offerings, which will drive a preference to buy from you;
• develop and manage documented plans to exceed all targets, whilst concurrently improving customer satisfaction;
• deal effectively with all leads, whether from marketing campaigns or other sources, maximising their value and optimising the results.
Author; Mark Blezard. Copyright; Sales Skills Audit