2021 Revenue Growth Journal (Second Edition)
I have a question for all of us in account management or strategic account management.
Should the key performance indicator (KPI) and the idea of “driving account growth” be stricken from the vernacular in our playbooks and manager reviews and replaced with “driving client success?”
Before we get into the “why,” of this post, let’s be clear that this is NOT a Jerry Maguire moment of “fewer clients,” or less revenue (for those of you who haven’t seen the movie, it’s an oldie but goodie - here is the clip that I am referencing). In no way does removing the words “account growth” mean we would be any less proactive and assertive in our professional goals or being strategic leaders with our clients. Instead, I ask this question to ensure we are sending the right message to our team, and driving and measuring client success.
Our experiences have guided Mediacurrent to evolve our message, which is having our Account Team 100% focused on what we are all truly passionate about: helping our clients succeed. When a client succeeds, everybody wins. Success comes in many forms. There is success for the individual personally, success for their business, and success for the product and/or solution we are building together.
There is a fundamental problem with the term “account growth.” While I think everyone knows what it means, the term is very one-sided and too transactional. The account growth KPI is typically tied to a percentage based on history, which is, in its own right, very robotic in nature. It provides little or no direction to the account manager. In fact, let’s ditch the “account manager” title too and opt for “Client Success” executive.
Leading With Client Success
Let’s roleplay this to illustrate. A sales manager comes to you and says, “Where are you with growing your account?” You probably start thinking things like, “How do I do that?” “What does that even mean?” “Has my manager even given me the playbook on what works?”
What if, instead, the conversation started with “What does success look like for this client and how can we help them get there?”
Now, that’s more like it! It’s a clear directive, it’s focused on our clients first, and it’s a directive I can build a fairly easy process around. The playbook and success guide would then go from transactional and ambiguous to understandable and actionable. We can start by asking the right questions and working with our clients to get the answers.
The right questions to ask include the following:
- What is our client trying to achieve as an organization this year, in 5 years?
- What are their quantifiable goals to understand if their strategy is working?
- How is the work we are currently for the client impacting these goals?
- What else could we be doing to positively impact our client goals?
Refocusing Your Strategy
For all of you being asked about an “account growth plan,” start with the fact that you are working on getting the right questions answered because let's face it, we wouldn’t be a good partner if we didn’t know the answers to the questions above.
You see, once you understand where the client is trying to go, you can then focus your efforts on helping them get there. From my research, the most successful account managers -- oops. I mean Client Success Managers -- are the ones that understand their client’s business and help them navigate the competitive landscape and complexities in the marketplace.
What to do next? Sit down and give yourself some space to build a plan to understand and measure the client’s success at both a macro and micro level and your role in assuring it happens. Involve your entire support team. Once a plan is set, establish a schedule for quarterly progress reviews with the client. From there you can truly execute a plan; making sure both parties in the relationship are successful.
So say goodbye to “account growth.” and hello to “client success.” You’ll be glad you did.