The second in a series of four short, practical articles on successful account management.
In part 1 of this series I wrote about why good account management matters, why it makes good business sense to concentrate on providing value to your existing client base, and the important role effective account management plays in cultivating advocate clients.
What is effective account management? At its core, effective account management is quite simple; selling genuine value by identifying the client’s needs and providing the right solutions. Great account managers are successful because they understand their clients and are genuine in wanting to sell the client the right solution for their business or needs. The two greatest skills an account manager needs to achieve this level of understanding is to be a good listener and to ask the right questions.
Let’s look at what it means to be a good listener and in particular, to be an active listener.
Active listening might be more easily explained by describing the opposite; when we are listening to someone but we’re not really hearing them because we’re thinking about what we want to say next, or when the other person will stop long enough so we can talk about what was on our agenda, or perhaps we are thinking about something completely unrelated to the conversation at hand. Whilst we are rehearsing in our head what we want to say next or thinking about something altogether different, we’re not truly listening to the other person. When we’re not actively listening to the other person, we miss out on important information we may not have been aware of and miss cues, such as changes in body language, tone or emotions, to take the conversation deeper to gain further insight.
Below are five techniques to help develop active listening skills.
When you’re with a client you want to gather as much information as possible about them that will help you to determine where or how you or your business can best help. They may tell you what’s going well, what’s not and where they need help. What direction the company is taking, or changes they’re making. The more you know and understand about your client’s business and goals, the more chance you’ll see an opportunity to assist; a product or service that you have that will fix their issue or help them achieve their goals.
To quote Larry King “I remind myself every morning: nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.”.
Next week – questioning techniques to encourage your clients to provide the information and insights required to develop the right solutions to deliver real value.
If you would like to discuss how your account management team can be more effective, become trusted advisors and retain more clients, please contact me and we can arrange a time to chat.