How Blade Runner Will Make You a Better Account Manager

Blade Runner Will Make You Better Account Manager

I bet you didn’t think Blade Runner could make you a better Account Manager, did you?  Sure it’s a sci-fi classic, but also full of account management lessons.

For those that haven’t seen the film, Blade Runner is a 1982 film starring Harrison Ford and set in a dystopian Los Angeles in 2019.  In the future synthetic humans – known as replicants – are engineered to work in outer space colonies.  When a fugitive a fugitive group of replicants led by Roy Batty escape back to Earth, burnt-out cop Rick Deckard reluctantly agrees to hunt them down.

Then the fun really starts.

OK well maybe it’s a stretch, but Blade Runner does have some great scenes and with the help of some gifs, indulge in a little bit of fun and read on to learn how Blade Runner will make you a better Account Manager.

1. Why you need a CRM

How Blade Runner Can Make You a Better Account Manager. Why you need a CRM.

Replicants only have a 4-year life-span. As Roy Batty’s system shuts down he tells Rick Deckard about his amazing experiences and the unbelievable things he’s seen.  Batty mourns that all his memories and accomplishments will be lost forever when he “dies”.

Your memory isn’t perfect – and it only belongs to you.  Instead of keeping it all locked up within that steel trap of yours, share it with detailed notes and save them to a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.  You’ll collect a vast amount of information on your clients over time.  Who they are, what they do, what they’ve bought.  You’ll have details of complaints, meetings held, emails sent and lots more.

History is important to understand how things have progressed with your clients and to know what to expect from them in the future.

And when you finally move on, all that information is held forever for generations of Account Managers who will follow you.  The things you’ve seen will be your legacy.

2. How to manage client expectations

How Blade Runner Can Make You a Better Account Manager. How to manage client expectations.

In the film, Dr Eldon Tyrell explains replicants are genetically unstable so only have a short life-span. Roy Batty wants more time, Tyrell says it’s impossible.

As an Account Manager, you want a rewarding relationship with your client built on mutual respect.  Get off to a good start by managing client expectations (boundaries?)

  • Always be honest.  The white lies will catch up with you.  If you can’t do something or you can’t meet a deadline, say so.  Work together on alternative solutions and compromises.
  • Under promise, over deliver.  An oldie but a goodie but adding a buffer to anything you’re doing for your client makes sure you won’t disappoint them if the unexpected happens.
  • Anticipate.  Get to know your client, what their interests and objectives are and make sure you’re plugged into them.  Anticipate what your client wants before they ask.
  • Communicate.  Make sure your client stays informed on your business and what you’re doing for them.

3. How to deliver bad news to a client

How Blade Runner Can Make You a Better Account Manager. How to deliver bad news to a client.

Deckard tells Rachael she’s a replicant, not a human.  She’s not happy.  It all works out in the end (I think).

It’s not always lollipops, rainbows and unicorns.  Sooner or later, Account Managers are going to have to deliver bad news.

  • Don’t delay. Rip the band-aid off and tell your client as soon as possible.  Bad news only compounds when you delay delivery.
  • Come clean.  Better to tell the truth than hide the facts.  You don’t need to go into gory detail but some insights will give your clients reassurance
  • Use the phone/email combo.  Where possible I prefer to deliver bad news over the phone first.  It’s easier to explain the background and I can speak a little more candidly.  It’s also courteous and shows respect for your client.  Follow up in writing. where you will only need to cover the headlines, rather than a wordy explanation (you did that on the phone already).  I begin those emails with “further to our conversation”
  • Explain yourself.  If it’s unavoidable bad news (e.g. a price hike, product downgrade etc) – you need to justify what has led to the situation and the options they have (if any).  If the bad news is a mistake, let your client know what happened and what solutions you’ve put in place.
  • Follow up.  Just because your client said they understand the bad news doesn’t mean they’re fine with it.  Keep in touch and keep track of the solutions to address problems that led to the bad news to make sure they’re actually working.
[clickToTweet tweet=”#BladeRunner will teach you all you need to know about account management #skillsgap #careeradvice” quote=”It’s true, Blade Runner will make you a better Account Manager”]

4. Good Account Managers aren’t born, they’re made

How Blade Runner Can Make You a Better Account Manager. Good account managers aren't born, they're made

Despite his flaws, Dr Tyrell praises Batty’s advanced design and his accomplishments, saying “you were made as well as we could make you.”

If you want to be a better Account Manager you must have a growth mindset.  Be committed to acquiring the knowledge and skills you need to deliver outstanding value to your clients and develop your career.

With Millenials expected to comprise 75% of the global workforce by 2025 and the concept of a “career” being shaken to its core, it’s more important than ever to keep your skills up-to-date.

  • Make a list of all the skills you’d like to learn.  Decide which is the most important.
  • Set a specific target performance level – for example, do you just need beginner knowledge or expert?
  • Break it down into sub-skills.  Don’t just say “I need to learn Excel”.  What exactly do you need to be familiar with? Is it charts, formulas, pivot tables, formatting, numeracy etc.
  • Focus on one sub-skill at a time.
  • Commit to 30 to 45 minutes of practice a day.

Download Free Account Management Career Development Plan

5. How to handle losing a client

How Blade Runner Can Make You a Better Account Manager. How to handle losing a client.

Rachael thinks about disappearing and Deckard promises if she does, he won’t come after her. Then they kiss (don’t do that with your client).

Clients come, clients go.  We do our best to keep them happy while they’re with us and we don’t let them leave without a fight.  But when their decision is made we need to let go gracefully.  Take the high road an be an Account Manager, not a stalker.

  • Acknowledge they want to leave but don’t offer solutions immediately.  Arrange a follow-up meeting to discuss.
  • If you don’t already know what went wrong, find out. Ask yourself what could you have done differently?
  • Surprise your client with a compelling offer that solves their pain.  Ask them to stay.
  • If they stick with you, make good on your promises and don’t make the same mistake twice.
  • If they still decide to leave, be gracious and leave the door open to doing business again.

Read Losing Clients Hurts: What To Say To A Client Who Is Leaving

So, what do you think?  Will Blade Runner make you a better Account Manager?  Or am I way off?  Leave your comments below.

Warwick Brown

Warwick Brown has led business development and account management teams in Australia and Europe for more than 15 years and worked with some of the world's most prestigious firms, including Merck & Co, Deutsche Bank, McKinsey & Company and Vodafone. As the founder at Account Manager Tips, his mission is to help organisations leverage the power of key account management to accelerate client retention and revenue.


clients, customers

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