Multitouch, team-based management brings the best results with mega-accounts
As a musical instrument or pro audio vendor, chances are a large amount of your revenue is derived from a handful of key accounts. The consolidation of retail channels over the past two decades further amplified this concentration of business activity, making it doubly important to have a credible and effective key account strategy. A key account can be a national chain store, large independent or super-regional dealer or one of the leading e-commerce houses. By definition, a key account has a significant impact on your business because of its large size and ability to move merchandise, and thus must be managed properly.
In past years, it may have been sufficient to have a single sales representative call on key account buyers who conveys requests back to the corporate office. This method creates an undesirable choke point for information flow and is only as good as the communication skills of the account manager. This also puts the entire dealer relationship in the hands of a person who may leave the company, and along with him/her goes a valuable amount of “tribal knowledge.”
Welcome to the New School
Musical instrument manufacturers and distributors are far better off developing key account teams that spell out specific roles and, most important, develop relationships with counterparts on the dealer side. For complex accounts such as a national chain store or prominent e-commerce retailer, this team may involve several people, each bringing specific value to the table. Depending on the size of your organization, an individual team member may be tasked with multiple roles, such as interacting with marketing, merchandising and purchasing constituents at the account. In any of these scenarios, the key account manager activates the relationships, coordinates meetings and generally acts as a “whip” to keep things moving in the right direction.
Communication and Collaboration are Keys to Success
There will likely be multiple avenues of communication that will best align the dealer with the vendor. It is imperative to identify the pivotal players within the retailer’s organization and make introductions to their counterparts on the manufacturer side. A kick-off meeting is scheduled, with everyone getting acquainted and gaining an understanding of how the key account team will work together. Subsequent to that initial confab, regularly scheduled conference calls are conducted. In each case, the key account manager’s role is to forward the meeting agendas, define the action items and follow up on deliverables. In this way, a well-oiled machine is developed, which will maximize sales while minimizing the potential of miscommunication and missed opportunity.
Here is a depiction of how different members of the team interact:
It’s a good idea to have a carefully thought out plan for managing relationships with these important accounts. This is an area where I have significant experience to share, so please reach out if you’d like more information.