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“What is your greatest asset and how do you be prepared for all the surprises in life.?”

Most companies don’t think about taking better inventory of their customer base until the loss of a major client. Blindsided is the word we hear often when C-level executives share stories about the major client that walked away or surprised them with a dramatic decrease in volume.

Here are what I consider to be core components of a solid asset management program for your key customers:

  1. Define the assets. Not all of your customers need or should be put into a rigorous asset management process. Set criteria for segmenting your most important accounts and choose those that are most strategic to supporting the health of your business. Best practice organizations look beyond just revenue contribution and include things like future growth potential, impact on operations, margin contribution, partnership orientation, and contribution to strategic initiatives like new product development.
  2. Establish a protocol for tracking, managing and maintaining the assets. Strategic accounts always involve multiple internal resources to support. Implement a standard process and common language to get everyone on the same page and understand both the short and long-term objectives for supporting the account.
  3. Capture the data. This isn’t just about whether or not to have a sales force automation solution. Have a solid data capture compliance plan for this segment that is unwavering.
  4. Align the right people to manage and grow the assets. Top-performing organizations utilize assessment tools to better align talents to specific roles in the sales organization. Strategic account management requires a unique set of skills that combine selling, business acumen, the ability to collaborate with key resources and C-level interaction skills.
  5. Create joint plans with your assets. Conduct periodic joint reviews that involve the client in strategic discussions that go beyond just satisfaction with service levels. Involve your strategic accounts in discussions related to new product initiatives and overall strategic planning. This forges relationships that go beyond vendor status.

A strong asset management plan for your most strategic clients is a sustainable best practice that you can leverage in good times and bad.

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