In the commercial sphere, the concept is used as "key customers", which bring substantial profits to trading firms and agencies. In such organizations there is a position of Key Account Manager - an employee engaged in establishing relationships with key customers.
Who is this key customer?
We begin with an explanation of the term, so, by it we mean a client who can significantly affect the company's income. They include large companies and image clients. The share of sales can be 30-55% of the total volume of the organization. When figuring out what key customers mean, it's worth pointing out that the customer is referred to them if he meets the following criteria:
- brings a good profit ;
- is a reliable partner;
- plans long-term cooperation;
- has an impact on sales growth;
- gives opportunities for new ways of earning;
- can influence the reputation of the company.
Types of key customers
Carrying out the analysis of customers, the manager can divide clients into such groups:
- The breadwinner . This includes a list of key customers that provide the bulk of the company's profits - 10% or more of the total. In most cases, he looks forward to a long-term cooperation.
- Perspective . They include new customers who have a good budget for buying products or services. They can be "breadwinners" from competitors.
- Image-maker . Such key customers have a well-known name and are leaders in their industry or region. They can provide a good reputation for the company.
- Expert . The customer has high requirements, putting forward to the quality of the goods and the level of service. In most cases, it has an important knowledge of the market on which the company operates.
Working with key clients
To plan effective work with important customers, you should study the main mistakes that can cause loss of customers.
- Of great importance is punctuality, because the delay shows the buyer that they are not serious about him.
- The department for work with key clients should not allow disputable situations, showing care and balance. Conflict is the risk of losing a customer.
- One of the common mistakes is the lack of awareness about the customers, so it is important to carefully work out the dossier.
- Key customers are worthy for the manager to carefully prepare for the negotiations. It is important to collect information about the customer's company, think through questions and interesting suggestions.
- You can lose a customer if the manager does not know the product, so learning about all the nuances of a product or service is an important requirement for training a specialist.
Analysis of key clients
Companies should periodically do an analysis to determine how to adjust the strategy for working with clients. The most effective and simple is the ABC-XYZ analysis, which involves the separation of customers into groups according to certain characteristics. The subtleties of working with key clients using this analysis involve a combination of the two methods that are formalized in the Excel table:
- ABC analysis - helps determine the category of customers by sales or profitability. Clients are divided into three groups: with the largest volume of purchases, with an average volume and with a minimum.
- XYZ analysis - distributes customers according to the frequency of purchases. Again, three groups are distinguished: those who make frequent purchases, regularly and irregularly.
Development of key clients
The company must develop a strategy of behavior with key customers and optimize existing resources to meet the needs of customers. Thanks to this, sales to key customers grow, and feedback develops. In order to identify prospective customers, they are guided by the rules of three "P": the need for a service, the solvency, the authority to make a decision. Information on potential key customers can be obtained through a special and advertising press, the media , the Internet and special electronic databases.
Management of key clients
Working with key customers involves more analytics and training than with interactions with other customers. Maintaining key clients means creating a dossier for each of them:
- Select general information, which include: a general description of the company, the number of employees, the history of development, staffing, organizational structure and data on its environment.
- The history of relations is described, taking into account what and when it was delivered, in what tenders participated, the reasons for victories and losses. The specialist determines the interaction at this stage and in the future.
- The decision-making scheme in the customer's company is being worked out. Here, all employees who are relevant to this should be considered.
- Information is gathered about competitors who are also trying to win over to their side a potential key customer.
Marketing of key clients
A strategic approach in sales and marketing, based on consideration of a prospective or having a customer, as a separate market, for building appropriate communications, is marketing - Account-based marketing. With it, you can conduct successful negotiations with key customers, meet their needs, organize a transaction in the early stages, get the maximum benefit from marketing and stimulate the buyer.
Trade organizations apply the marketing of key customers to tell in detail about the unique trading offer. In it, the correct definition of target buyers and the creation of a contact card is of great importance. In addition, companies consider the work of coordination groups of sales and marketing, create content and individual programs.
Loss of a key customer
When a company loses a key customer, then the profitability of sales significantly decreases and there is considerable damage. There are many reasons for the loss of customers and the main options include: reducing the level of customer service, deteriorating the quality of products or services, failure to meet deadlines and promises. In addition, the opinions of clients may not be taken into account or they are generally forgotten. Key customers can be returned, but this will have to work hard:
- The definition of a criterion that indicates that the customer is lost, for example, the customer for a long time does not buy anything.
- Accounting for such indicators: the number and dynamics of failures, as well as the directions by which they arise.
- Drawing up lists of clients you want to return, and developing ways to attract. This includes special offers, gifts, discounts and so on.
Key Account Manager
Due to the conducted researches it was possible to establish that more than 50% of success of sales and effective interaction with customers depends on the manager (Key Account Manager). A person in this position influences about half the profit, so his powers are close to the head of the company. As for the responsibilities of the manager for working with key clients, his main task is motivating the customers to develop long-term cooperation. In addition, he performs the following tasks:
- conducts market research;
- negotiates ;
- Expands channels for implementation;
- processes statistics;
- draw up a plan for implementation;
- leads key customers.
Key Account Manager skills
Many employers agree that senior managers should have a higher education, and the exact specialty is not indicated. Ideally, the manager for key clients should have knowledge in the field of psychology and marketing, and the first sphere can be the main one in education. In addition, he must have such skills:
- The employee must have information concerning the product of the company, that is, he must be able to answer any, even a specific question from the customer.
- A key account specialist must have knowledge related to sales. He must be able to sell not only goods, but also the idea.
- Ideally, the manager should be aware of the customer's business development issues: weaknesses and prospects for the future.
- The employee must have the skills of business communication, analytical thinking and excellent intellectual abilities. The specialist must know foreign languages, business acumen and be able to predict the client's behavior.