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Likability Alone Doesn't Keep Clients

There once was an account manager named Jenny who worked for a sizable and respectable staffing company. She was in charge of managing two of the company's biggest accounts, both Fortune 500 companies, that brought in a substantial amount of revenue for the organization. Jenny was a hard worker and very likable, but she had never received any formal training on how to manage accounts. She believed that as long as she met her clients' expectations, everything would be okay.

One day, Jenny received an email from the purchasing department of her biggest client, stating that they were going with a managed service provider (MSP). And if she was to continue to do business with their company, she would have to do it through this new technology-driven Vendor Management (VMS) process they were going to implement. And, it would be up to that MSP company to determine how much, if any, business would go to her company.

Jenny was devastated. She couldn't afford to lose this client. She had bills, rent, a car, and school loans to pay. She knew she had to do something, and fast.

Her initial reaction was Denial.

“This isn’t actually going to happen, not to my piece of the business”

Her next thought was Anger.

“After all I’ve done for that client, and this is how I’m treated?”

(Recognizing the stages of grief here, yet?)

She did resort to bargaining (praying to her higher power) promising things like she would never again be slow to respond or purposefully let one of these company calls go to voicemail if ONLY this MSP situation would go away.

But, she subsequently realized that nothing was going to change the customer’s decision and she accepted the reality of the situation.

Jenny had to make some choices (and adjustments) if she was going to remain successful in this role.

She reached out to peers in the industry and found that the most successful account managers were following a process that included analyzing, planning, and executing. They talked of client risk scores, web of influence, cross-selling and business reviews and so much more than what she had been doing.

She realized that because she had no relationships in the C-Suite of her clients, she was unable to truly understand her clients. If she had, she would have understood the need for her client to choose this MSP/VMS solution.

Jenny asked her boss for some formal training and she attended a training session with other account managers. The sessions were led by seasoned account managers and former industry executives. They shared best practices, processes, and a system of reinforcing activities for successful account management. They taught the importance of communication, understanding the operating reality of the client, their needs and expectations, and how to effectively build relationships with them. In short, she learned the skills to be a strategic thought partner for her clients and create solutions that solve their workforce challenges.

Jenny took this training to heart and immediately began implementing the strategies she had learned.

The results of Jenny's efforts were astonishing. She not only applied these new concepts to her other large account, she applied them to the MSP provider she was now to work with. She became their trusted advisor (not a vendor). They gave her special projects to work on and gave her advance notice of needs prior to putting them in the system. Her revenue from the account grew, but her margin took a hit. Was it a win? Not entirely, but she continued to hone her processes with the VMS to make it more efficient to work with them. And truthfully, had this “wake-up” call never happened, she may have ended up losing her other accounts.

In the end, Jenny's experience taught her that investing in training and professional development was critical for success.

Jenny may or may not be a real person. But if you are in Jenny’s situation, or you have a team of account managers that have not been trained, we’ve got you covered! Whether you choose an effective, self-paced, online learning program, virtual instructor-led group training, or onsite, you'll receive best practices, tools & processes, reusable templates and guidebook, coaching moments, and role-practice scenarios. Be like Jenny - contact us to get started now.


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