Key Account Managers Need to Be Sales Hunters AND Sales Farmers
Traditionally, Key Account Managers (KAMs) have been sales farmers. That is, they work hard to sow, nurture and grow their account relationships over a long period with the aim of reaching the coveted status of being seen as ‘trusted sales advisors’. This status has historically been viewed as the ultimate goal because it results in protected differentiation, premium prices and income predictability.
The problem in today’s world is that this type of sales person is an expensive overhead for both selling and buying organisations, not least because KAMs often take years of investment before they deliver rewards. We also see that many sales farmers receive great customer satisfaction scores but go totally unnoticed at the senior decision-making level and lose 90 percent of the opportunities they bid for.
But in today’s tough environment, the hard truth is that NEITHER the selling nor buying organisation can afford to wait years for their farmed relationships to bear fruit. They are BOTH impatient and want to create value rapidly, while seeing a quick return on the time and money they invest in their business relationships.
In these high pressure times, if a KAM hasn’t ‘harvested’ significant value from a relationship within six months, there is a problem for all concerned!
Today’s Key Account Manager needs to be a leader and a challenger
Today’s Key Account Manager is expected by both the selling and the buying organisation to innovate, challenge and hunt down new opportunities that will quickly create tangible and mutual value. To achieve this, KAMs need to challenge the strategies of buying organisations, hunt down opportunities that will make a difference, and lead the sales process to deliver a solution that transforms the performance of the buying business units they sell into and the performance of the sales team they lead.
This means that today’s Key Account Manager needs to be a leader and a challenger. KAMs must aspire to be the perfect hybrid of, on the one hand, a trustworthy sales farmer and, on the other hand, a proactive sales hunter.
Hybrid hunter-farmer Key Account Managers should lead their teams to hunt down game-changing opportunities, develop strategies that both the buying and selling organisations buy into, and farm mutually transformational value that can be measured. If you can be this hybrid who has both types of selling skills and behaviours, you can be a world-beating sales person and will have a great selling career.
Written by: Steve Eungblut, Managing Director of Sterling Chase
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