Account Management vs. Account Maintenance – in Lead Generation Programs
Managing a lead generation program is almost like running a business. The goal is to take raw materials (the people making calls), develop a process that takes each prospect one step further in the sales process, use technology to streamline execution and measure, and deliver the required profit to each client.
Specifically, when I look at the Account Management talent required for successful cold calling programs, I see someone who:
• Understands that clients need a Return on Investment and works towards a cost/lead that achieves the desired ROI
• Knows how to craft a marketing message that connects with the target market
• Knows how to work calling lists
• Can select the right calling team
• Utilizes technology creatively and optimally
• Can develop a process that achieves desired results
• Is a great communicator and motivator
• Is a clear thinker in the midst of chaos
• Sees the value of planning, executing and measuring – and ongoing improvements
In our world, we always say, “It’s Account Management, not Account Maintenance.”
Imagine a business running on auto pilot. This business could succeed for a while, but would eventually sputter and fold.
The same is true with a lead generation program. There was a time in VSA’s history when we did not manage accounts as actively as we now do. The callers, themselves, were mainly responsible for a program’s success or failure. Callers would correct messages that were not resonating. They would identify lists that were old with no viable opportunities left. They developed processes that worked but were manual, paper-oriented, and labor intensive. In the end, many programs thrived in this environment (or we would not be here today), but the marginal programs could never achieve ROI targets.
Now, we see that Account Management oversight is critical to our clients’ lead generation success. This strong oversight is just as important as great lists, effective cold callers and streamlined processes.
Here’s one example of how effective Account Management turned a dying program into an extremely successful ongoing campaign. We have a client who was very hands on. Our contact demanded much from VSA, but had no real idea of how to develop and run an appointment setting program. The Account Manager at that time reacted to the client’s needs and gave all sorts of lists and reports. She was excellent at responding to the client’s needs. She didn’t however, introduce process improvements, list issues or the skillset of the account team.
At some point, a new VSA Account Manager was assigned, and ironically the client contact changed as well. The new Account Manager overhauled the entire campaign and became more of a partner in the process, than a reactionary vendor. The program has since doubled in size and produces valuable sales opportunities to our client.
Our Account Manager treated this campaign as if it were her own small business. She managed (and still does) the account closely and has built a strong prospecting force for our client.