By Andy Smith,
Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing,
AXIOM Sales Force Development

Have you ever looked forward to a meeting knowing that both you and everyone involved will come away way afterward much better off than you were going in? Of course you have. But based on many years of first-hand experience, I’m guessing the meeting you were looking forward to wasn’t a Key Account Review. It was probably something you had to do not something you wanted to do.

Quite honestly, most sales pros leave the Key Account Review meeting wondering if they did anything worthwhile, or if was just a check-the-box activity.

Know the feeling? It’s frustrating because there’s never been a standard for what these reviews should look like in terms of what you need to know and what should be covered. So inevitably, the conversations revert to one of two extremes:

1. There’s the good old-fashioned storytelling session where the account manager really wants his or her manager to see how well they know their client. It’s not just skimming the surface, either. We’re talking a deep dive history lesson (think Wikipedia) into the client’s background, where they came from, the ownership, etc.

2. Or, they go with the direct and often exhaustive bullet-point approach … “None of that history matters; let me tell you what we sold them last year and what we are going to sell them this year. Are there any questions?”

As you can see, the account review and coaching session is either way too big picture or way too tactical. At its core, an account review should focus on strengthening relationships, expanding your influence, and increasing your impact.
Here’s how you do that:

Turn information into insight – Information is just data; it’s things you can probably get off the company website (who they are, how they’ve performed, what’s their plan). That’s all important, but you must translate that into what it means and the implications of it. What could it mean if you acted upon it? Do a SWOT analysis from your account’s perspective and share it with one of your contacts for their perspective. You’ll get more insight from doing that than almost anything else.

Assess the current state of your influence – Influence is the capacity to change behavior, with or without authority. So what’s your level of influence with this client? Do they see you as a vendor who responds to requests or a partner who brings them new ideas on how to solve potential problems

Quantify your current impact – Can you measure the positive effect you have on your customer’s business? Once you know that, determine the ROI you’re getting for investing in the relationship? What’s the ROI trend for you over the last couple of years?

At the end of the account review and coaching session, you should have a specific and actionable plan to close the gap and identify the opportunities you are going to pursue to grow your impact. Bottom line: if you have broader, deeper, and stronger relationships – and you have greater influence – the outcome is much impact on your account’s business and profitable revenue growth for you.