Here are 6 ways to make that happen.
In the 4+ years we’ve been open, I don’t think I’ve spoken with a single research firm that doesn’t have 40-50-60% (or more) of its revenue tied up with just 3, 4 or 5 clients. Losing a small client is bad enough, but losing one of these ‘Key Accounts’ can be devastating. So, what can you do to ensure this doesn’t happen to you?
In addition to doing those things that you do for all clients, regardless of size (doing good work and providing good service – of course, making sure they receive your monthly e-newsletter, staying top-of-mind be being active on social media, networking at conferences), here are 6 ways to enhance your relationship with your Key Accounts:
- Get to know everyone. The #1 reason that Key Accounts are lost is because the research firm has a strong relationship with just one person there… and when that person leaves (and they always do), there is no ‘champion’ to replace them. And the relationship just dies on the vine. So get to know as many people as possible at your Key Accounts – at all levels and in all departments. Make sure you understand the buying process and keep track of everyone with an Org Chart.
- Visit them in-person. If you’re trying to build and maintain a relationship just with email and occasional phone calls… it’s not going to work long-term. You need to be present. You need to connect person-to-person. C’mon, if a client is spending $250,000 with you every year, don’t you think that’s worth a plane trip or two? Remember… “All things being equal, people do business with people they like. All things NOT being equal, people STILL do business with people they like.”
- Entertain them. And while you’re visiting them, spend a little money on entertainment. Bring in breakfast for their staff, take your key contacts out for drinks and dinner after work, get tickets to a ball game, etc. And don’t talk about business… talk about them, their families and what interests them personally. Remember, they’re not just clients… they’re people, too!
- Thank them. Aside from last Christmas season, when was the last time you sent your Key Accounts a gift? Or even a hand-written ‘thank you’ note. Again, if a client is spending $250,000 with you every year, don’t you think that’s worth an unexpected gift basket in appreciation of their business. Or two minutes of your time to write a note to say “thank you?”
- Customized content. In addition to giving your Key Accounts access to all of your ‘normal’ content – your blog posts, case studies, etc. – consider delivering content just for them. For example, while you’re visiting them, deliver a lunch-n-learn presentation on a topic that will specifically interest them. Or search out targeted topics online and send your Key Accounts an email with a link to them.
- Dedicated service. Rather than manage your relationship with these Key Accounts like all of the others, considering employing a dedicated Key Accounts Manager who has responsibility for ensuring successful relationships with these few large clients. They become the go-to-person for the Key Accounts, they serve as an advocate for them, they jump in if there is ever any problem and – most importantly – they are tasked with doing all of things listed above (#1-5) to maintain and grow your relationship with them.
Not all clients are created equal… your bigger, better clients warrant a higher level of attention and service. Losing a small client stings. Losing just one of your Key Accounts can put you out of business!
Do you have an effective Key Account strategy? If so, we’d like to hear what you’re doing to “love on your clients.”