So, you have structured your key account management programme, carefully qualifying the clients and setting specific objectives for each of them – be that increasing revenue, introducing the firm to new areas of the business, retention, adding value and so on.
Devise a 12-month tactical plan
The next step must be to develop individual 12-month tactical plans for achieving those client objectives. For instance, if adding value to the client is an objective then, it’s important to determine whether tactically it means seconding a firm’s lawyer to the client organisation for a defined period, or offering legal training to their business, or such. As part of a similar programme, a global law firm’s HR department provided consultancy to a client’s employment and recruitment teams, offering advice through professional experience and insight, on how they could manage their internal projects.
A plan is only as good as its execution. Assign responsibilities to named individuals for every objective for every key account. Agree a cadence of meetings and then ensure that each tactical activity is reviewed for progress.
CRM technology can make key account management routine
A word of caution – it’s at this stage that most key management programmes unravel. Meeting every so often, providing verbal updates with no real accountability or metrics to show progress, is futile.
Typically, for every key account, there’s a designated Lead Relationship Partner (LRP). Despite best intentions, it’s impossible for this individual to have visibility of all the activity pertaining to the key account he or she is responsible for. The LRP may be a banking lawyer and so not likely to be able to manage the relationship for any potential opportunities for the firm, say in employment law. At most, they’ll make the necessary introductions for lawyers in the firm and will then have to rely on fee earners in the employment team to pursue the opportunity. Tracking progress anecdotally won’t be quantifiable. On the other hand, by capturing all the related activity in the CRM system, the LRP has complete visibility of the tactical activities and the corresponding progress being made. The data in the CRM system will hold the individuals accountable and actions undertaken or not, will be irrefutable.
Utilise your CRM system to help to make key account management part of individuals’ day to day activity. By inputting all the components of a key account management programme into the CRM system, you can track progress in a very clean and practical way – with metrics. Some of the leading international law firms are already doing this effectively. They actively track engagement activity with the key accounts in terms of the number of meetings held with the key clients, their attendance at the firm’s events, their interest in content provided by the organisation and so on. All these interactions impact the strength of relationship that is monitored quantifiably via relationship scores in the CRM system.
Solicit regular client feedback
Listening to key client feedback is essential. If an objective for a key account is to improve performance, it makes sense to undertake periodic reviews with the client to demonstrate the improvement, but also capture feedback to continuously make changes to the tactical plan to achieve that goal. Waiting until the end of the 12-month period to make adjustments is likely to cause more frustration for the client, especially if the plan isn’t working. Again, a CRM system is of value here as you can illustrate improvement with hard facts and data. Every time a client provides feedback – however big or small – it must be recorded in the CRM system. Not only will this feedback cumulatively provide data to measure performance improvement, it will serve as guidance for fine-tuning the tactical plan on an ongoing basis on how best to manage the relationship.
If you are exploring InterAction for key account management, please speak to your Client Advisor, who will guide you in developing a successful programme.
This is the second blog in this series. In the next and final blog, I’ll delve further into how to review and reflect on the key account management programme in a tangible way.