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It is common practice for sales departments to set sales targets for certain periods and types of sales. Yet although these targets are important, it is just as important not to neglect the specific plans for individual customer accounts. Planning helps sales departments to track the success of their efforts accurately and to ensure that they optimally meet the needs of every single customer. Through careful planning, sales departments are able to provide better support and at the same time maximize their sales potential.

Account management is an important part of B2B sales and plays a decisive role in long-term customer loyalty. In the radio segment, as in many other B2B branches, it is very important to build up a close relationship to customers since this promotes repeat booking and a long-term partnership.

Account planning

Effective account planning is the key to successful account management. Sales teams should put together a plan that defines the most important targets, the priorities and the strategies to be taken to meet these targets for the most important customers. This may be an annual plan based on regular reviews and updates. The Pareto rule can help identify the importance: 80% of all sales are made from 20% of the contracting companies. It is this 20% that should be identified and watched. 

For radio marketers and radio stations it is of importance to know these customers well to understand their needs, targets, and challenges. The account plan should thus include detailed information about each of these, including business goals, the target group, the budget, and the competition. This history of cooperation also plays a major role. When, how long and with what budgets has the advertiser booked slots in the past? How far in advance were decisions made? Consequently, when must an advertiser be addressed in future to ensure a successful booking? What sales targets or targets in general do we have for this customer? 

It should also be noted what challenges customers are currently facing and what is known of future plans. This leads to opportunities for your own sales and the right products and services. 

Information should not be allowed to disappear into the file depths of employee computers, but be processed logically according to a set pattern and made available to everyone on the team and be regularly updated. It is also not about collecting massive amounts of information about the most important accounts. Ultimately, the purpose of data is to identify the customer’s challenges and problems which are what make a logical arguing of benefits of one’s own product solutions possible. And data help identify opportunities and risks in good time. 

Customer loyalty

Close ties to customers are decisive for the success of an account management program. Radio marketers and radio stations should focus on building customer relationships by maintaining regular contact and working closely with customers.

Customer loyalty can and must be promoted through personalized communication, personal meetings and networking events. Despite more intense communication on digital channels as many advertisers also seek there are many options for maintaining personal contact to your customers. Companies should also request feedback and attempt to adapt their services and offerings accordingly. Customer surveys or a customer advisory council are viable paths. 

Social media offers outstanding possibilities of promoting customer loyalty, but naturally, a spontaneous cup of coffee locally, an email with an exciting article, a meet-up at a trade fair, a specialized event or a sports event can be just as effective. The contacts of the most important customer accounts should be so familiar that it is clear which channels are best used to reach these individuals. One decision maker prefers to talk about the next deal or current challenges over a beer during a soccer match. The other decision maker feels appreciated when sent interesting information by email. 

The personalities of decision makers and other contacts on the customers’ side should also be considered. This provides the advertising sales team with the clues they need to pitch their offers. Many AI tools in the meantime can be very useful. 

Account Team

A well-trained and committed account team is an important part of a successful account management program. The heads of marketing departments should ensure that their account managers have the skills and resources they need to provide their customers with optimal support.

The account team should be in a position to understand the needs and requirements of their clientele and to offer them custom solutions. It should also be able to react to customer feedback and to maintain close cooperation with other teams at the company to guarantee a seamless customer experience.

Software, AI or automated processes are already being used efficiently and effectively today for many workflows in sales. But it is the human contact in the end with his empathy that can still make the decisive difference and generate a regular customer from a chance encounter.  

Data analysis

Any automatic data analysis, however, is also an important component of account management. Companies should be in a position to collect, analyze and interpret customer data to improve their strategies. 

Radio marketers and radio stations should collect and analyze data systematically about quotations, bookings, the target group and the impact of campaigns. They should also use data from other sources, such as social media, websites, balance sheets, studies, the trade press and online marketing tools to obtain a comprehensive and up-to-date picture of the customer. This is the only way to ensure partners are and remain on equal standing, but at the same time not to be overwhelmed by unpleasant surprises. 

In summation

An effective account management program is just as important to the success of sales as thorough and detailed sales forecast planning. This is nothing new, but, truthfully: has it really already been consistently implemented at your company? 

 

Yours, Andrea Anders

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