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PKM vs. CRM for Strategic account management

B2B Strategic account management is a proactive long-term undertaking to build a deep understanding of an important customer's business goals, objectives, industry, competitors, and challenges. The goal is to forge a long-term trust-based partnership that delivers value to both sides.

General account management is more focused on managing daily interactions with many customers. Maintaining positive relationships on behalf of the company as they move through the pipeline.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is built for general account management, it can provide some utility for strategic AMs, but it fails to address their most critical needs.

Strategic account management requires a high level of attention to detail and an in-depth understanding of the interconnected complexities of each customer's business. In addition, a deep understanding of each client's industry and the prevailing market trends is critical for account managers who wish to become a valuable resource for their clients.

Unfortunately, CRM wasn't designed to store or manage that fidelity of knowledge. So while CRM is often the mandated oppty tracking/reporting tool, it's rarely the primary tool strategic AMs depend on to get their jobs done.

PKM by any other name, we all have one

Knowledge Management (KM) systems are designed to aid in the capture, organization, and easy access of knowledge. The goal is to make it easier for organizations to store and utilize knowledge to improve decision-making, problem-solving, and value creation.

Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) systems do much the same, but for the individual. Where a KM system is designed to share knowledge across an organization, a PKM system collects, organizes, and amplifies an individual's knowledge and expertise.

Few B2B sales organizations provide KM tools to their strategic AMs, naively assuming CRM covers all sales needs. This leaves the selection of a PKM system to the individual account manager.

For many, their trusty notebook (digital or physical) is their PKM. Others use their inbox as a PKM, with elaborate folder structures and sorting rules. In sales, this makes more sense than it might appear; email is often how new information comes in, after all. A growing number are adopting purpose-built PKM tools, like Obsidian, Logseq, or ixnote. I even know a few individuals who use excel with multiple tabs and pivot tables... but I must admit to quietly questioning their sanity.

Regardless of the underlying tool, however, one thing is always true; their PKM system, their knowledge store, is vital to their success. It helps them perform at a higher level and, if well managed, becomes an invaluable resource that delivers compound benefits throughout their carrier.

Like the Rolodexes of old, their PKM goes into the proverbial cardboard box next to the company stapler, the dead potted plant, and their "Coffee is for winners" mug.

One of the few essentials they take to their next fantastic opportunity.

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