For Key Account Managers, Account Directors and Relationship Managers seeking to build broad, deep and long relationships with enterprise customers, AI tools offer new opportunities to boost trust without increasing effort. This article outlines how AI is not replacing but augmenting Account Teams by supercharging Market Intelligence and empowering Account Managers to build more tailored engagement and stronger trust and relationships.
Customer Trust is Key to Every Account Team
Enterprise Account Teams are the glue that binds companies to their customers – taking direct responsibility for the human relationships and ensuring alignment between both parties. Something impossible to do without trust – an area where AI has not exactly flourished. Indeed AI can be rightly accused of undermining trust when used incorrectly – most of us have experienced Chat GPT’s “hallucinations” of facts.
“B2B customers who report superior confidence in their buying decisions are 157% more likely to complete what we call a “high-quality, low-regret deal” than other customers” – Gartner
Account Teams are, therefore, cautious about unleashing AI on valuable relationships. However, understanding and aligning with customer needs is a key area where AI can reduce workload, especially in Marketing Intelligence and Account Engagement. As usual, a systematic approach to Account engagement is key, especially when using an AI to support the workflow – but early adopting teams are winning a clear advantage by balancing AI-driven insights with human relationship building.
Manual Customer Research is Slow & Reduces the Time to Build Relationships
“Knowing your customer” is hard. Dozens of open tabs, reading quarterly earnings calls on the toilet or the train, finding out strategic changes whilst pitching solutions, the scramble to prepare an account plan that sits on Salesforce for another 3 months without changing. Every Account Manager knows the pain of staying on top of their Research tasks.
“Data professionals lose 50% of their time every week… 30% searching for, governing and preparing data plus 20% duplicating work.” – IDC 2018
Balancing the Research Execution Paradox is key. The best account managers (and salespeople in general) manage their time between “just enough” researching and “maximised” selling. Others burn out chasing their tails or give up and focus on selling. AI offers Account Teams another route – let the machine do it.
The latest advances in AI – particularly those around Natural Language Processing and Generative Copy writing – present new opportunities for account managers to understand their customers better, automate repetitive tasks, and deliver more personalised experiences.
Leveraging AI to Build Trust Throughout Account Lifecycle
Three immediate ways account teams can leverage AI tools to strengthen customer relationships:
Deeper Insights & Better Alignment
Analyse large amounts of market and account data from various sources, including news, web, PR and Social Media. Natural language processing can extract key themes and sentiment to identify pain points, challenges, and changes in the customer’s business. Account managers can leverage these insights to better align with the customer’s goals and priorities.
Real-Time Monitoring & Faster Reactions
Without the human constraints of sleeping and eating, an AI can be “always on” at a fraction of the cost of human workers. Leveraging natural language processing and sentiment analysis, AI relationship intelligence tools can monitor all customer interactions across an organisation in real time. Account managers get alerts and recommendations if relationships show key changes that could drive growth opportunities or threats to the account.
Content Analysis & Meaningfully Engagement
Ideally, Account Teams should “provide value” through every interaction. However, maintaining regular, high-value engagements can be challenging for even the best Account Managers. The best AI tools can sift through vast amounts of data, identifying a wide range of content and knowledge worth sharing with customers daily – offering Account Managers a “copy and paste” solution to staying top of mind without undermining trust.
Account Teams Leveraging AI Now are Gaining a Clear Advantage
“Generative AI is already helping copywriters draft content and computer programmers write code, boosting their productivity by 50% or more. It can do the same for salespeople.” – HBR 2023
Tools like AMPLYFI can support account managers to spend less time on research and more time on building relationships. We propose a three-tier approach to Key Account Monitoring:
- Announced – from official channels, this should include web, PR and official social channels and can include any announcements by leadership
- About – from other sources, particularly reputable media, influencers and trade press – who tend to have earlier indicators of change
- Affecting – from the wider market themes – focus on technology, innovation and regulations for your customer’s direct market as a minimum, but this could extend to a full PESTEL analysis for any market they sell to or get supply from
Ensure the selected tool has flexible content, strong and smart filtering and customisable alerts. Look for tools that use Generative AI in creative but trustworthy ways, for example, by generating unique insights.
Actions – How to Use AI as an Account Manager
Regardless of the tools your team selects, four things you can do are:
- Setup Market Monitoring – focus on technology, innovation and regulatory disruptions – this can start with Google Alerts, though you may soon find them too noisy without AI filtering
- Setup Account Monitoring – Align with the Needs & Objectives of your accounts by monitoring their opportunities – new strategies, projects… or whatever is a trigger for you – subscribing to your Accounts’ content channels is a great start, but not everything will be covered by on channel, and noise is again an issue AI can solve
- Leverage AI to Simplify Outreach – use generative AI to take the signals from the monitoring and craft insightful messages, not just “hey I saw this news” but “have you thought of how this market change affects you in this area of opportunity or threat” – this can be done manually by feeding prompts into you Generative AI tool of choice, but remember to double-check the outputs and spend time tuning your prompts using Research Assistant personas (something AMPLYFI offers out of the box)
- Build dynamic Account plans – again, feeding your CRM with insights direct from the combinations of the above steps to ensure your SWOT/PESTEL analysis is up to date and you can clearly plan your actions and align with customer objectives.
By automating repetitive tasks and providing data-driven insights, AI allows key account managers to focus on the critical human elements of building strong relationships. With the support of AI, account managers can become trusted strategic advisors helping their most important customers achieve their business goals and gain greater value. Though not replacing human relationships, AI is a powerful tool to help account managers strengthen bonds with customers.