He states that many issues are related to how an organisation structures internally to support effective key account management. In particular he outlines three key internal issues that need to be addressed to ensure the success of account planning and account management.
Keith is the owner of Business of Trust, the co-author of Smarter Selling, an international speaker and business coach.
John: Hello, I’m here with Keith Dugdale. Keith’s the owner of The Business of Trust. He’s the co-author of Smarter Selling, and he’s an international speaker and a business coach – welcome, Keith!
Keith: Thank you very much, John!
John: Keith, you’re an expert in the area of key account management, and we’ve talked a lot about how an account team needs to be focused on the customer. You’ve got some gems about how we need to structure internally to support that account team and make sure we’ve got the right account plan in place, and so on. Can you expand on that a little bit, tell us more about what we should be doing?
Keith: Absolutely, John. As you say, the key thing is what you’re doing with the customer, but to do that you need to make sure that you are aligned internally. There’s several things we see most organisations, sadly, not getting right, the first of which is clear alignment between the firm’s own strategy and their account planning strategy.
John: That makes sense.
Keith: Yeah. So, what tends to happen is that a lot of organisations—an analogy that was used with me yesterday was focusing on the apples and not on the tree, and you need to focus on both. You need to focus on the short term wins, but you also need to have it within the context of the long term strategy.
John: To ensure the tree is healthy.
Keith: Absolutely. The tree has to be healthy, otherwise if you focus too much on the fruit, at some point the fruit disappears because the tree dies.
Keith: So, that first bit is key. The second bit is also the socialisation of that link. Anyone who’s involved in any key account planning realises why they are doing it, rather than “It’s just another task.”
Keith: And the third thing then links to that, and that’s to make sure you have the right people running those accounts, who have the interest of the firm at heart, they have the interest of the account and the client at heart, and they can also run a multidisciplinary team at a relationship level. If you get all of those right, then what you do at the apples level tends to work really, really well.
John: Right. And you keep the tree healthy.
Keith: And the tree is kept healthy – absolutely, John.
John: Okay. So, just summarise those three points for us.
Keith: Alignment with strategy of the account planning…
John: Very important – okay.
Keith: Absolutely. The socialisation of that within the organisation.
John: And so often that doesn’t happen.
Keith: It doesn’t happen. Most people in most organisations don’t know what the strategy is. And the final thing is to make sure you’ve got the right people running the accounts.
John: I think there’s great advice there for our audience – thank you very much, Keith! I look forward to the next time we talk!
Keith: Thank you, John!
Other interviews with Keith Dugdale:
- “Failure of account planning programs”
- “Competitive landscape in professional services”
- “The most effective type of client relationship”
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