7 Key Account Management Tools of the Future that are Here Now

Are you doing key account management the hard way?


Effective key account management requires you to increase profits, develop relationships, increase satisfaction, grow revenue, improve retention and reduce conflict. It's a big, complex job and organisations need to invest more in the right technology to help account managers be more effective. Let's take a look at 7 of my favourite key account management tools.

"You cannot mandate productivity, you must provide the tools to let people become their best."  ~ Steve Jobs

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(1) Sales Intelligence: LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Pricing: from $64.99 per month

What it does

LinkedIn Sales Navigator enables the full power of LinkedIn by helping you establish and grow relationships with prospects and clients. 


Why you need it

LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network with 706+ million users (and counting) in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. Every single one of your clients is there. LinkedIn Sales Navigator makes it simple to stay up-to-date on what's happening with your accounts and identify and connect with important stakeholders and new prospects.


Now, your organisation might try to tell you key account managers don't need LinkedIn Sales Navigator - it's a sales tool. That's just an excuse not to have to cough up for a license, because it ain't cheap!


But guess what?


Key Account Managers need to:

  • Generate and qualify leads
  • Grow networks
  • Cultivate relationships
  • Grow revenue

Kind of sounds like sales, doesn't it?


Account Managers may have a foundation of existing clients but within that are hundreds of stakeholders we don't know and who may hold the key to new opportunities and revenue growth. You can't always rely on personal introductions or may need to get past gatekeepers or find other ways to stay in touch, especially if you've found your emails get ignored.  


How to use it

One of my favourite ways to use Sales Navigator is to create custom lists of my clients and LinkedIn will spotlight important insights. For example I can quickly see who's changed jobs (guess what - I'm not the first person they call!) so I can congratulate them but also find out who replaced them. Or I can find clients who have posted to LinkedIn in the past 30 days so I can engage with their content.


Sales Navigator has been a HUGE time-saver for me and proven a useful tool in my arsenal to connect with influencers and decision-makers.

(2) Appointment scheduling: Arrangr

Pricing: Free

What it does

Arrangr is the fastest, easiest way to set up a meeting. It integrates with Google, Office and iCloud and creates an inbound scheduling page from which your clients can book time with you based on your current availability. And if you've ever tried to organise a group meeting, you'll be delighted with the ability to send a poll to participants to vote on their preferred time and place.


Why you need it

Key account managers attend a lot of meetings. Arrangr has the potential to save you hours a month by eliminating the need to manually co-ordinate dates, times and attendees and then send invitations. An appointment scheduling tool is essential: it's effective and efficient.


While there are a lot of appointment scheduling apps, most of them have features you'll never need as a key account manager. Arrangr feels very B2B focused with everything you could want and you can't beat the price!


One of my favourite features is the ability to choose from a variety of integrations for the meeting location.  Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, GoTo Meeting and even a custom video call method, in case your client would prefer to use their own conferencing solution not yours.  I've not seen any tools that offer that degree of flexibility with the location. There's even a feature called Intelligent Spot-Finder which will help you find that perfect spot and provide half-way point suggestions like restaurants, cafes and hotels.


I also like during the booking process you're prompted to add an agenda and additional messages.  So it prompts your clients to be specific about the meeting purpose. And you can decide between instant bookings or pending your confirmation - which is great if you


The only thing I don't like is the calendar invitation title. They all say the same thing: Call w/ [Name] (Arrangr). Not very helpful if you have a calendar full of these events - you won't know what the purpose is without opening up the invitation. It's not a deal breaker for me, given the outstanding functionality, and I did speak with the developers who said enhancements to the calendar invitation and title are on the roadmap.


How to use it

Include a link to your meeting scheduling page in your email signature. Ask your clients to bookmark the page in case they want to make an appointment with you. Add it to the contact info section of your LinkedIn profile. Make it simple for your accounts to connect with you.


(3) Sales automation & engagement: Salesmate.io

Pricing: From $24

What it does

While Salesmate is primarily a sales CRM it has some excellent automation for greater productivity, including a feature that's essential for key account managers: authentic email communication at scale. You can customise your client outreach by creating sequences of email and activities that put engagement on auto pilot.

Why you need it

Keeping in touch with clients is hard work. 

Alternative: Yesware

Pricing: From $14 per month

If you work for an established organisation you may not be on the look out for a new CRM. Many other CRM's include automated email campaigns and nurture sequences or have integrations or apps that can be enabled. But if your out of luck, then check out Yesware. It's an all-in-one toolkit that lets you send personalised outreach at scale through automation campaigns, schedule meetings, track emails and create email templates for follow up and nurture.

Read this

How to Create a Powerful Client Engagement Plan Using Video [+Template] - a a step-by-step guide to creating effective engagement plans at scale that earn trust, establish credibility and strengthen your client relationships.

(4) Database: Airtable

Pricing: Free

What it does

Airtable is an all-in-one collaboration platform that combines the flexibility of a spreadsheet with the power of a database, including features like file attachments, kanban cards, calendars and reporting.

Why you need it

Ever got that notice from Excel saying it's locked for editing by another user, so you can't do any updates to the worksheet. And worse, sometimes that other user is YOU. Somehow the file is still open. Happens a lot when you connect with VPNs or you open on one device and that instance didn't close properly you attempt to open on another device.

Aaaaaaaaargh.


Also, Excel is great for analysing and visualising data and performing complex calculations. But it isn't great for managing data - keeping it organised, searchable or available to multiple or simultaneous users.


Most database platforms have a steep learning curve, which is where Airtable comes in. There are a vast selection of templates to get you started and a marketplace of apps designed to analyse, enrich and deliver insights to your data (although you'll need the pro plan to access the latter.)


The linked record field allows you to represent reciprocal relationships between related records which is really helpful when you have data across multiple workspaces. And it's way easier to accomplish than in Excel.

I really like the flexibility of Airtable. You can view data in the traditional grid format or customise views to be Kanban, Gallery, Card and Calendar views. Use formulas to query data roll-up multiple tables into master databases. It's extremely powerful

How to use it

I've used Airtable to collect data using their forms feature, manage participants for training, created implementation and onboarding plans, account plans and more recently a crisis management plan below to help key account managers focus on what's important to their clients during the global pandemic. 

(5) Note taking: Milanote

Pricing: Free

What it does

The team from Milanote reached out to invite me to try the platform and I'm extremely impressed. It's quickly become my go-to note taking application and really appeals to visual thinkers. It's flexible, yet structured - which saves your notes becoming an unwieldy mess - which was the biggest issue I had with OneNote.


Milanote takes all the hard work out of note-taking because it organises ideas and projects into visual boards and collect everything in one place. 

  • Write notes
  • Create to-do lists with due dates and reminders
  • Upload images and files
  • Clip text, images and links from the web

Think Pinterest meets Evernote.

Why you need it

I love pen and paper. It's portable, doesn't need batteries, and no one judges you when you flick through your notes during a meeting as opposed to scrolling through your phone when everyone assumes you're reading emails or on Instagram. And numerous studies confirm the benefits of longhand for learning and recall

But there are limitations. Paper notes aren't searchable, aren't shareable and are difficult to organise.

Now I know a lot of CRM's have note functions but they are not purpose built and severely lack in functionality.  They just aren't up to the task of the kind of detailed notes that key account managers need to keep about their clients. I mean take a look at this example from Salesforce Notes. Could it be any more boring?

How to use it

Note taking is at the core of everything you do as a key account manager:

  • client research;
  • meeting preparation;
  • meeting minutes;
  • proposals;
  • account plans;
  • information sharing;
  • personal development;
  • and lots more.

Here are the notes I made on Milanote from from a webinar I attended on Sales compensation design. How great does this look? Imagine if all your meeting minutes looked this good? 

You can also export your boards as images, PDFs, web pages and Word documents makes your notes immensely shareable and it's easy to invite collaborators too.

Quite honestly, the uses are limitless.


(6) Task Management: Todoist

Pricing: Free

What it does

Todoist is a simple, powerful task manager that provides a clear overview of everything you have to do so you stay organised, crush your productivity and see tangible progress towards your goals.

Why you need it

Todoist has been a game changer for me.

I love the ability to group tasks into sections and the ability to add priority (P1, P2, P3 & P4) labels and colour code projects makes it very easy to sort and identify priority projects fast. 

The filters are powerful and easy to set up custom views. And there are lots of helpful shortcuts that make Todoist a breeze to work with. Perhaps my favourite thing is how you can add simple reminders like "every work day" or "tomorrow at 9am" 

How to use it

Todoist has a sleek, minimal interface and the experience between browser, desktop and phone is seamless.

I use this daily for all my account management tasks and setup projects for more complex, long term goals where I need to break down the activities into smaller elements.

(7) Document Management: Bit.ai

Pricing: From $8

What it does

Bit.ai is an all-in-one document collaboration & content management platform for teams to create, share and manage their content from one place.

Why you need it

When you work in any organisation there are literally thousands of documents floating around, old versions, draft versions, new but not approved versions.  It's a massive challenge to stay up to date with sales decks, proposal templates, meeting agendas, contracts, procedures, onboarding and implementation and other documents.

And when working with clients - there's genuine risk that you'll share the wrong document which may have massive consequences.  Imagine if you sent the wrong fee table or a contract with the wrong terms and conditions, or onboarding documents with the wrong contact information?

It happens.

To ensure you're up-to-date and communicate effectively and collaboratively with clients and colleagues, a document management solution is essential.

Most of us rely on Onedrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, Sharepoint or network drives but these are designed for storage, not for document management. Searching, sharing and updating documents isn't as easy compared to a solution custom built for the purpose.

How to use it

Create standard templates for essential documents like:

  • Proposals
  • Meeting agendas
  • Meeting minutes
  • Quarterly Business Review Executive Summaries
  • Processes and procedures
  • Surveys and forms
  • Training guides
  • FAQs

I also use this to store customised versions of these I might create for clients and I can interlink documents together so that teams can see completed examples.

Bit.ai has a powerful search feature and exports beautifully and consistently formatted documents into a variety of formats like Word, PDF, Spreadsheets.


If you want to take the headache out of searching for, editing and sharing documents then Bit.ai is a must.

Conclusion

There's an expression, "A good carpenter doesn't blame his tools" but you can't carve wood if you don't have the right equipment to begin with. For too long key account managers have had to make do with inferior applications that are just not fit for purpose.

With the nature of work changing and new and powerful tools not only at our fingertips, but at extremely low prices points, there's simply no excuse for organisations not to invest some money in technology to support account management teams.

What do you think?  And are there any essential key account management tools I missed? Let me know in the comments.


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