Swimming in the smart lane – a sideways view of Account ManagementMar 23, 2022
For the last few months my morning run has become rather hazardous because our local swimming pool is putting in a ground-source heat pump that will heat the pool in future and dramatically cut their energy bills. They took this decision when energy prices were low compared to their current and future level. At the time the payback was reasonable, now it looks like inspired planning, at a time when many sports facilities are saying they will not be able to survive. From the pool operator’s view this looks great, but from the viewpoint of their energy supplier it looks pretty grim.
At Defy Expectations we believe that one of the key skills for the future is to maintain a customer focus. A lot of people would define that as really good account management. We think it is much, much, more than that. Account management is only a part of customer focus, which is generally understood as selling more of your stuff to existing customers. That is not going to be enough in the future where customer loyalty is frail and the ways for competitors to approach your customer multiply all the time. To be really focused on your customer you have to understand the market your customers are operating in and you need to think very widely about that market. Here are some things to think about:
- What are the pressures your customers are under and how can you help them navigate them? How do you have those strategic conversations with your customers at the right level?
- What could change to destroy their market? If your customers are in Ukraine or Russia you probably never thought about today’s scenario until it was too late.
- What opportunities might those changes bring, and as a supplier are you prepared for them?
- Do you know who your customers' competitors are and where they sit in the market?
- What will you do if your customers fail?
- What alternatives are there for your product if the world changes for your current customers?
These are questions that you may never have considered. They need to be part of your customer focus in today’s world.