How to Keep Your Clients: Account Review Meetings

Increasing revenue is among the top three goals of company owners. While converting new customers is an easy way to measure the success of sales efforts, there’s often untapped potential in the company’s existing clients. The first step to unlocking this potential is performing an account review. 

Account Review Meetings

An account review is a regularly scheduled meeting between a supplier and client to review performance and further develop the relationship. On the client side, participants include the decision maker, the purchaser, and the product or service user. On the supplier side, the sales representative attends and may bring the sales manager, president, and technical expert. Frequency is less important than consistency. Annual reviews are enough for some industries, while quarterly reviews may work best for others.

Suppliers without an account review process are often surprised when they lose business and shocked when they discover their competitors are also supplying their clients. When clients don’t insist on formal reviews with their suppliers, they often find it challenging to provide feedback and drift away when a new, potentially stronger alternative presents itself.

While not exact, this test will indicate if your company has room for improvement.

Ask yourself, are the top 20% of your clients: 

  • Aware of your full range of products and services?
  • Single-sourcing from you and confident they’re getting good value?
  • Routinely providing referrals and references?

If not, it’s time to find out why.

Questions to Ask Your Clients

  1. Describe a great supplier relationship – No one enjoys being put on the spot. If your first question is, “What do you think about me as your supplier?” you’ll make your client uncomfortable and are less likely to get an honest response. Instead, open by asking about their ideal supplier. They’ll relax and provide a few key points for you to consider. If they give generic answers like “I like good communication” or “I want the lowest prices,” ask them to think of their favourite supplier and draw out what makes them so great. Questions like, “How quickly do they respond?” “Do they contact you by phone or email?” and “How were problems handled?” will help you get the information you want.
  2. Tell me about a supplier relationship that isn’t working – Just as important as knowing what suppliers are doing right, is finding out where they’re letting clients down. Again, you want to put them at ease by asking about their relationships generally, not with you specifically. However, if a client starts talking about your offering, you must listen and allow them to vent. Remember, you want this feedback so you can improve the relationship. Writing down what they say will disrupt your urge to be defensive and will make them feel heard.
  3. What are the company’s goals for the next few years? – Ask open-ended questions about the importance and urgency of these goals. For example, are they planning to double sales? Are they introducing a new product line? What will the value of accomplishing those goals be? Are these short or long-term plans? Once you have explored the company’s direction, ask about their vision and their suppliers’ part in accomplishing it.
  4. What challenges do you anticipate along the way? – This is the other side of the goals. What will it cost to achieve them in terms of time, money or personnel? Go deeper by using open-ended questions to understand their direction.
  5. Here’s what others are doing successfully – This is when you get to talk. Suggest what they should do instead of telling them. Refer to a third party to explain what other companies are doing and see if they want a similar solution.

Your Next Steps and Ongoing Commitment

To close the meeting, summarize what you discussed. Highlight any action needing to be taken to make sure everyone agrees on them and their timelines. Finally, book your next account review meeting. 

Once you’re back at the office, transcribe your notes. Send a follow-up email summarizing the next steps and timelines for any commitments made by either of you. Then, follow through. Before the next account review, re-send these notes to get everyone back on the same page and allow each of you to measure progress.

How Small Business BC Can Help Your Business

SBBC is a non-profit resource centre for BC-based small businesses. Whatever your idea of success is, we’re here to provide holistic support and resources at every step of the journey. Check out our range of business webinars, on-demand E-Learning Education, our Talk to an Expert Advisories, or browse our business articles.