In National Account Management, Relationships Matter


Gone are the days of ‘it’s not personal, it’s just business.’ In our increasingly connected world full of Zoom calls and home offices, the expectations around business relationships are evolving, and with it, the importance of knowing how to develop and maintain good ones.

While the role of National Account Manager (NAM) has always required better than average interpersonal skills, it doesn’t hurt to remind your team of how and why these client relationships must be established.

Built mostly on good strategy (and partly on good luck), finding the best team to foster these relationships will no doubt increase your company’s success with current clients and open doors to new opportunities.

“Clients – like most people – appreciate honesty and expertise; the client-agency relationship is no longer, ‘we say jump and you say how high’. The aim should be true partnership.”

It starts in the interview

When hiring to fill NAM roles, identifying individuals with solid relationship building skills should be at or near the top of your list.

Strong candidates will show up with engaging conversation, great questions, and a level of comfort in new settings.

Once on-board, National Account Managers should make relationship building – both with clients and internally – priority one.

The upfront investment in building a solid, trusting relationship with a client is worth it for both short- and long-term benefit. A great National Account Manager will spend time learning the ins and outs of their client’s specific system and processes whether that’s Lowe’s, Home Depot or anyone else in the building industry.

NAMs should focus on the bigger picture – seeing things from the customer’s perspective – and become a part of their team, as well. A National Account Manager should aim to become “…a direct extension of your customer’s team, tasked with communicating wants, needs, and priorities to your internal teams.”

“Big Box NAMs must have the business side nailed.  Home Depot and Lowe’s NAMs must know their numbers and analytics to be able to effectively manage these large accounts.  So, if that is a given, the difference maker is how deep and broad are the NAMs’ relationships within the customer’s organization.  There are so many touch points in these National Accounts, that an effective NAM’s relationships go well beyond the Merchant,” says TZR president, Mark Fisher.

Client knowledge needs to go beyond the numbers

“By establishing yourself as a subject-matter expert on their business, your customers will gain confidence in your partnership, creating a much more collaborative and effective relationship.”

It’s not all about business.

National Account Managers need to spend time getting to know their client on a personal level. Finding ways to relate to everyone on the team builds trust and creates a bond that goes beyond the Boardroom. And it can pay off in big ways.

“With trust comes the opportunity to deal with potential problems as they arise and work on growing their business with yours. Rather than taking a reactive approach and constantly having to put out fires, focus on building systems of trust that are supported by great customer service and proactive strategies.”

When a National Account Manager has established themselves as an essential part of the customer team – and built a foundation of trust and reliability with their day-to-day contacts – the results will speak for themselves. Not only does it become easier to get things done week after week, but it can lead to future successes and new business opportunities down the road.

NAMs “may uncover untapped opportunities and be able to provide more strategic, valued guidance in the long-run. Training your teams to ask thoughtful, probing questions will not only strengthen the customer relationship but also position your agency as a trusted advisor.”

If 2024 is your year and you’re ready to take your relationship building skills to the national level, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today. We are placing top-tier talent in their dream roles every day.

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