This page is designed to help everyone better understand National-Accounts-Programs, including the motivation for implementing one and the processes to a successful implementation. While it is not designed to provide final answers to all national accounts questions, it serves as a guiding principle for those in the firm responsible for the program’s success. It is not intended for its executive management team but salespeople, branch managers, and national account representatives. However, keep in mind that executive management must be dedicated to the program and should be familiar with the process and concepts.
Gain Control by Providing a Competitive Advantage
National accounts, by definition, are large and have a lot of buying power, giving them huge clouts when it comes to negotiating cheaper rates. Furthermore, they are generally more difficult and expensive to service due to their complexity and demographics. As a result, the majority of national accounts are the least profitable. As a result, you must make a concerted effort to effectively rebalance the transfer of power by providing significant competitive advantages that elevate the importance of your products and services among your national customers. There are four fundamental types of added value that might help you gain a competitive advantage:
- Processes that increase customer productivity, improve quality, reduce supply chain transaction costs, and result in measurable savings (unrelated to price).
- Administrative and technical assistance that can minimize your clients’ internal costs to the point that they impact your bottom line operating costs.
- Sales and marketing assistance can help your customers enhance their bottom line.
- Technology is critical to your customer’s business outcomes but exceeds their internal capabilities.
All of these concerns should be refocused on by your national accounts program.
A national accounts program’s ultimate success is dependent on the hard work and teamwork of all firm employees involved in the process. In any national accounts program, there are four core components to success:
- Knowledge: Research your company’s internal processes and the inner workings of your national accounts program if you have one.
- Understanding: Research the business environment in which your organization operates and the resultant stated national accounts program objectives.
- Clarity: Determine the overall market and customer need and direction. It should be a complete grasp of what your company is attempting to accomplish.
- Commitment: Ensure that your entire firm is committed.
You’ll be stuck in a downward price spiral if you don’t create a competitive advantage, which cuts into the margin and essentially denies your customers’ understanding that “price is not the same as cost. It is a first procedure toward gaining a competitive edge in establishing an organized national accounts program with clear criteria.