Your client account team can be a valuable resource during Covid-19
Chances are, this is the hundredth article you’ve read about Covid-19. It might seem strange, but we believe this type of economic and social crisis has a silver lining: a chance to strengthen your business by solidifying your relationship with your existing client base, particularly in the B2B context. One of our favorite quotes often said in politics is “Never let a crisis go to waste” – rather view it as an opportunity to create long-lasting business relationships.
Now is the time to build and strengthen relationships
If your client account team is relatively inexperienced, there may be a temptation during this time of crisis for them to “hunker down” and believe their client relationships are solid because “no news is good news”. Furthermore, they may believe that since their client’s business may be impacted, they are less likely to contemplate switching vendors during this crisis.
If you are a business leader, you may be contemplating reducing staff and other painful expense reductions. Perhaps your front-line facing client team is near the top of that consideration set because business has slowed.
However, now is not the time to turn inward to the detriment of your client relationships. We would suggest that now is the time to think differently and instead make long-term client investments. Your clients are facing their own set of challenges, both personal and professional. Their business may be faltering, or their personal lives may be impacted. Your business relationships may now find themselves with much more time on their hands due to economic distress. Or alternately, they may find themselves incredibly busy, with less time to focus on the product or service that you deliver. Regardless, their world changed remarkably in the past two months.
Create a “deposit contact” program
We recommend any company with a sizable B2B account management team create a “deposit contact” program to create an opportunity from this crisis. This would be a formal program to reach out to your existing client base and make an emotional “deposit”. This could be as simple as a check-in for their health and well-being. Or it could be as elaborate as a little bit of client entertainment – perhaps a virtual lunch over video conference with lunch delivered and expensed. Or sending a bottle of wine with a little time in the afternoon for a virtual tasting. You are only limited by your creativity.
Regardless of your team’s time or budget, checking in with your clients on a personal level will be remembered in the long run. Make the contact without your usual ‘to-do’ list in hand but rather with an open mind and a listening frame. Making this deposit to the emotional bank account during a crisis will be long remembered, and place you in the lead consideration set when your business is up for renewal.
A Dragon Walks Into a Meeting is our guide to the best tactics for a professional account manager. Pick up a copy today to learn the tactics that make new account managers into seasoned professionals.