By: Leanne Armstrong
Robust managerial tools play a critical role in understanding and meeting the needs of your customers. With the account management tools and structure in place, you have a good chance of increasing sales over time by onboarding lucrative new customers – even as you keep existing clients delighted and thriving.
Account management tools are designed to help you make the most of every sales account you take on by making it easier to:
- Build, manage, and improve your client relationships (especially those with the greatest potential for growth)
- Successfully plan and structure your account management process
- Maximize opportunities for mutual gain
According to Gartner, customer improvement drives both account growth and retention. So in this article, we’ll take a look at some common account management tools you can use to enhance client loyalty, keep track of important information, and strengthen your customer bonds.
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Why use account management tools to boost client relations?
The more your clients come to trust and rely on your guidance and expertise, the likelier they are to stick around, spend more, and recommend your services to others.
Naturally, all your accounts are important. But identifying those with the greatest potential for long-term value (aka your key accounts) will direct you toward tools that can optimize your account management process.
For example, in your role as the primary connector between your business and its customers, you’ll want to consider tools that can help you:
- Organize and manage new and existing contacts and contracts.
- Collaborate effectively with your sales team and clients.
- Strategize around key and up-and-coming accounts.
- Solve client problems so they can reach their objectives.
- Measure goal achievement and long-term results.
Sound like a tall order?
Don’t worry. The 7 account management tools described here are easily up to the task of making you a more effective account manager.
1. CRM & ABM software
Although CRM (customer relationship management) software is primarily sales-focused – and ABM (account-based marketing) software is more marketing-focused – there’s often a great deal of overlap between the two.
Many companies rely on one or both types of platforms, in fact, to:
- Keep track of and better understand their clients and prospects
- Reach out and stay in touch with targeted leads and key accounts
- Establish a solid foundation for their account management strategy
Ideally, the software you choose should be user-friendly, integrate easily with commonly used collaboration platforms, and take advantage of visualization as a means to strategize and manage customer relationships more efficiently.
Is a full-on software program like Freshworks, HubSpot, or Pipedrive more power under the hood than you need? You may prefer to build out a custom toolbox of your own using stand-alone account management tools.
2. Contact databases
Individual spreadsheet tools like Excel or Google Sheets may be all you need to track multiple contacts – including individual decision-makers – within the same company. Their built-in calculation functions can even help you compile sales data for various territories, and determine the current and potential value of each key account.
3. Email automation tools
Initiating contact, and then staying on top of potential and established accounts is a time-heavy commitment. Fortunately, email automation can be tremendously helpful whether you need to:
- Keep new prospects engaged
- Trigger internal follow-up reminders, or
- Maintain authentic client relations at scale
There are hundreds of automated tools available (like SmartReach.io, PersistIQ, prospect.io and Mailshake, to name just a few) to help you produce, personalize, and schedule your email communications.
4. Performance metrics and analytics
Account planning is a dynamic process. So it’s important to use appropriate performance metrics to analyze the results of your planning in an ongoing, meaningful way. KPI measurement tools like Canva, Klipfolio, Tableau, and Asana, for example, can help you evaluate and modify your account strategy over time, making it easier for you and your clients to achieve the ROI you’re expecting.
5. Collaboration tools
Team cohesion and visibility are especially important when it comes to account management structure and planning.
You’ll manage account management tasks better, for example, when you and your team have:
- A clear overview of everything you need to do to stay organized, productive, and on track to achieving your goals
- The ability to sort, group, and prioritize group and individual tasks
- Easy access to shared content and documentation
Collaboration tools like Google Docs, SharePoint, and OneDrive can help you create, share, and co-manage the most recent documents related to your:
- Meeting agendas
- Sales decks, proposals, and contracts
- Account processes and plans
Software like MindManager, meanwhile, not only facilitates transparent communication and collaboration by offering powerful integrations with such apps, it’s frequently used as a key tool for task management within team environments.
Gathering and manipulating pivotal information about your accounts is pretty much essential for successful sales management. A big advantage of working with MindManager is that it provides a central dashboard for all your account information.
By merging mind mapping software with robust visualization tools, MindManager is especially suited to centralizing and simplifying dispersed information – making it easier to both work with and make use of your data.
You can create topics or standalone maps for each key account, for example, then link pertinent account information directly into your map.
MindManager offers a wide range of account management templates for your convenience, including:
- Brainstorming diagrams and idea maps
- Planning diagrams and budgeting tools
- Strategy maps and account planning templates
A cloud-based, Co-editing feature also makes it easy to collaborate on visual objectives directly with your client – even if they’ve yet to invest in MindManager.
7. Account management plan templates
Creating an account plan is a proven way to identify opportunities, improve client relationships through value creation, and ultimately grow your revenue. In an earlier article, however, we noted that strategic account management plans can typically only be carried out with quality account management tools.
[Embed sample account management plan template]
An account management structure template, for example, is essential for:
- Outlining your key clients’ objectives, and determining which actions are required to achieve them
- Implementing those actions and regularly measuring the outcomes
- Uncovering opportunities to drive additional revenue through upselling, cross-selling, add-ons, or custom solutions
Here’s an example of a must-have template for account managers who are looking for a way to keep track of important information, while improving their account management planning.
- Set a specific and realistic account goal based on what your client wants to achieve.
- Decide on a course of action, create a list of steps for accomplishing your goal, and determine how you’re going to measure success.
- Select and customize a flowchart, process map, or strategy map template by clicking NEW in the MindManager navigation menu.
- Distill relevant information about your client into a single word or brief description, and place it inside the central topic to serve as the starting position on your diagram or map.
- Place the sequence of steps necessary to reach your goal on your map by representing them as sub-topics with short descriptions inside (you can use MindManager’s interactive Gantt chart to assign and provide a visual representation of individual task owners and due dates).
- Add connections between these steps using directional arrows, and detail how they could lead to results. Each step should follow a path that leads closer to your goal. If you’ve identified more than one potential solution for meeting your client’s objective, you may have multiple paths.
- If your path requires a decision along the way, highlight it by placing it inside a diamond shape. More than one arrow should extend from the diamond, each representing a different decision and leading to a different outcome. You’ll want to evaluate these incremental outcomes using your preferred KPI tool.
- The end of your chart or map should be marked with another circle and concluding description.
Remember – not only can overviews be created across multiple maps in MindManager to ensure all the information you need is available at a glance, you can link visual map views with other valuable account management tools like SharePoint, Outlook, and Excel.
Pro template tips:
- Try to keep the account management planning process simple by sticking to a single goal per template (unless you want to evaluate various action plans side-by-side with the help of a swim lane diagram, for example).
- Take advantage of images and color throughout your map to help keep users engaged.
- Use your template to lay out what you know now, then fill in any gaps as you gather new information.
- Make sure the metrics you use are relevant and meaningful to your client.
- Review and tweak your plan regularly to boost forward progress.
Prioritizing customer delight and retention by investing in quality account management tools will help you discover the untapped potential behind your results. With the right tools and templates, in fact, you can ramp up the impact of your most valuable clients on your bottom line, while expanding your customer base.