With an ongoing global pandemic and increasingly competitive business world, key account management teams have progressively understood the value of major accounts. According to the famous management rule, 80 % of your profit will come from 20% of your strategic accounts. What resources to invest? and how? and where?, are the key questions you have to handle. Automated systems and processes will work best for 80% of your accounts, whereas, you can safely invest and focus your personal time on the sales of the rest 20% of your Key Accounts.
Now is one of the times you need to leverage every opportunity to keep closing more deals, there is absolutely no room for leaving money on the table. One of the approaches to doing this is through social media. Over the last decade, social media has changed our society as we know it, it has made us closer online and we are able to practically keep in touch with anyone.
While you might love scrolling through family pictures on your Facebook feed, one social network is making a huge impact over on the professional side of the spectrum.
LinkedIn can be a key account manager’s best friend, and the perfect tool that they need to do more for their clients, stay in the loop with the competition and recruit new prospects. If you aren’t keeping your LinkedIn up to date and staying active on it, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity for growth and outreach.
Some assume that LinkedIn is only useful if you’re on the job hunt and need to reach out to recruiters and hiring managers. While it’s great for that, many companies are leveraging it for growth and some even credit it as the key to their development efforts over the years. Could you say the same?
Right away, I’m going to show you some of the most important elements on how to leverage LinkedIn to close more deals with key accounts. But before we dive in, let’s look at the what, who and why of key account management.
Who Is A Key Account?
A person or a group of people with whom your business has built more than just a standard business relationship based on the trust level. A company or person can only be referred to as a key account when they have has made repeated purchases from the supplier. The relationship between buyer and supplier in a key account is one of mutual dependence, with both working towards achieving a win-win outcome.
What Is Key Account Management (KAM)?
It refers to the full relationship between your business and your customers. It revolves around handling the customers who play a strategic role in your growth. When dealing with multiple individuals, it is good to record facts about decision-makers within the account you are dealing with. The goal is to access and grow key accounts into profitable long term relationships
Why Key Account Management?
You most likely have heard about the sales funnel. The sales funnel represents how your leads are being captured and moved through several series of interactions until they finally make a purchase or leave the funnel. But for B2B organizations that have offerings that require long term engagements with their customers, winning the first deal is only the beginning of the process. What is then necessary, is to farm those clients for more revenue who then basically turn to key accounts.
Now that we are fully familiar with the basics, let us look into how to use LinkedIn to get the most out of your key accounts:
Connect With Who Matters
The very first step to building up your LinkedIn account is to connect with as many personalities as you know. Your online network should reflect your real-life connections first and then you can start reaching out to leads, customers, and recruits with a solid backing of other LinkedIn members that can introduce you or get you connected. You should go through your contacts list (you can integrate it into your profile to make it easier) and then start adding away.
You should follow your colleagues and people that you have built professional relationships with over the years at conferences, workshops, and past jobs. Next, you want to stay connected with your customers and their companies. This way, you can stay in the loop about what’s happening in their industry and organization and they can also be advocates for the great work that you’re doing to their other connections.
Monitor the market
In addition to connecting with your customers and their organizations, you also want to keep an eye on the competition as well. You can learn a lot about a company or someone on LinkedIn because it seems like we are willing to tell the online world just about anything (for better or worst). Use this as an opportunity to gather some information on your customer’s competition along with your own competitors.
Learn more about what’s coming down the pipeline at their competitor’s company so you can get a jump on preparing their account plan. Figure out what your competitors are most excited about, who they just signed, or who they are letting go so you can swoop them up. All of this information is out there, just sitting around, clogging up LinkedIn feeds, and it’s free for the taking. If you aren’t getting on LinkedIn and keeping up with this information, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to put yourself and your clients in a better position.
You should also follow hashtags and industry insiders that regularly report on your sector. It’s good to know what is happening with the industry as a whole so you can make better-informed decisions for your clients and your organization, but also so you can have the info to back up your Trusted Advisor title. You’re the expert in this field, so continue to learn every day and discover new questions to ask your clients.
Learn About What Matters To Your Clients
As mentioned earlier, people love to put a ton of information about themselves out on LinkedIn. Perhaps one of the most important things that you can learn from your connections on LinkedIn is what matters most to them. Whether your clients come right out with a long post about what they look for in a vendor or you can see a pattern based on the posts they interact with, the information is all there—you just have to look for it.
This goes for both your customers and your competitors. Learning what your competitors care about the most can give you a slight edge in many ways. For example, if you’re in a bidding war with a competitor over a new account, you might be able to compromise on things like revenue share in exchange for a longer contract when you know your rivals wouldn’t dare offer that. While this is a pretty specific example, if you spend enough time on LinkedIn, you really can learn a lot about your competitors, customers, and even yourself in some cases.
Part of leveraging LinkedIn for growth and your organization’s gain means being a trusted voice on the platform. To do this, you need to be proactive and optimize your profile to the fullest. There are a ton of guides online about what to write in your bio or how to list your qualifications so I won’t get into those nitty-gritty details here. I will say, however, that sharing content and interacting with 1st and 2nd-degree connections can be huge for making some noise on LinkedIn.
Content is king on LinkedIn, and the beauty of it is that you can post pretty much anything on there as long as people can gain some value out of it. Whether it’s an article about a lesson you learned from a client or you have the perfect recipe for saving an account, others want to read your thoughts. The more that you can post and the more people that see it, the more your credibility rises. With that online credibility, you’ll be able to grow your network, get those introductions, and get those new accounts. It’s really that simple. Although it can take some time at first to make some waves on the platform, if you log on every day and are active on it, you can make it happen.
Along with connecting with people that you already know and have relationships with, your LinkedIn profile should be on your business card and a piece of contact information that you give and gather at trade shows, conferences, and when you’re out and about. When you’ve built up a solid profile on LinkedIn and show that you are active, people will see you as the expert in your field and it establishes offline credibility for you and your organization as well.
With as much as we use social media these days, most people aren’t too wary about giving out their LinkedIn information and it’s pretty par for the course in modern networking. Because of this, rather than flat-out denying you, you might have a lot more luck with hesitant connections at trade shows. Maybe you didn’t make the best first impression and they aren’t quite sure about what you’re offering. Even though they maybe might not give you their phone number, they’ll likely give you the LinkedIn handle, and then you can use it to make a push to make a better impression the next time around.
But, chances are you crush it at conferences and don’t need to worry about wary contacts. Imagine you’re having a great conversation with someone but didn’t get a chance to get their contact information. You can look them up later on LinkedIn and preserve the contact for the future. Even just 15 years ago this wasn’t possible and many account managers and salespeople know the struggle of losing a potential lead because of lack of contact information. LinkedIn solves that problem.
Above All, Keep it Professional
It seems like it should go without saying that LinkedIn is a professional space, but it seems like some people on the site could use a reminder. When everyone has three or four separate social network accounts, it’s easy for the lines to blur and Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn all become kind of the same conglomerate. Fight against this and make sure that you treat each network differently, using it for a different purpose and presenting yourself differently
While the vast majority of LinkedIn users are fairly professional, it is the internet, so every once in a while you’ll run into a troll or a hater in the comment threads. Remember, your clients, coworkers, boss, and future connections can see what you post, what you comment, who you argue with, etc., so it’s crucial that you always maintain your professionalism on the platform. You want to use it as a way to build your offline credibility, not hurt it. Save the slang, swears, political opinions, and flame wars for Facebook or Twitter; LinkedIn is basically your online office space.
Avoid Being Pushy
As you make new connections, you’ll probably be excited to get in their inbox and start pitching them on whatever it is you’re offering. Whether you have a new job opportunity or you want to sign them onto your service, you should avoid being overly pushy. People don’t respond well to others delivering aggressive sales pitches to their inbox. It is annoying and gives a bad name to our LinkedIn efforts when, in actuality, there’s a perfectly acceptable way to do it
Avoid spammy-sounding messages or messages that sound disingenuous, like you sent the same exact canned response to all of your new connections. When you reach out to someone, make it personal and don’t come out of the gate with a sales pitch. Think about the person on the other end of your message and treat them how you would want to be treated on the platform.
Follow Professional Journeys and Recruit If You Can
The final reason that key account managers should use LinkedIn is to keep in touch and follow along with professional journeys. Provide them with endorsements and vouch for them to help them land their next big job. You can also use LinkedIn as a recruitment tool if you’re connected to fellow account managers working for competitors. Maybe they could be your next coworker.