Hello NAMs… Where are you?

This article was published in the National Liquor News, May 2017 edition

In an increasingly complex and competitive retail environment, National Accounts is the engine room of any successful business.

Suppliers rely on their National Account team to deliver them a competitive advantage and the role of the National Account Manager (NAM) is vital to this. Understandably perhaps we’ve found the most difficult role to fill in the past year has been for National Account Managers. Good NAMs are increasingly difficult to find and, it seems, once you do someone else has got to them first.

A good NAM must fully understand their category and, importantly, how their brands fit into that category. They need to be across customer insights in order to identify and develop plans that deliver mutual sustainable growth to both the business and the retailer.

With the increasing level of sophistication in the NAM role there is also the challenge of how to attract and retain them. As recruiters we see a high level of passive job seekers, employees not actively job searching, lured to move and accept a new position if the offer is right.

Satisfied employees in high demand areas such as National Accounts are frequently getting unexpected ‘nibbles’ to gauge their interest in new opportunities. Much of this can be largely attributed to the rise of social media and specifically LinkedIn.

This means that talent retention is paramount. When we ask NAMs why they’re prepared to leave their current role, the main reasons are either the daily grind (overworked, sick of dealing with difficult customers) or they’re going nowhere (slow growth, unsatisfying work). Employers need to be aware of this and address these areas.

Non-financial rewards can be offered such as the flexibility to work from home on certain days. Ongoing professional development, an opportunity to be exposed to new channels and giving employees space to be creative can also be effective.

It’s tempting to keep your high performing NAMs in the same role however the good ones will inevitably get head hunted and leave; or burn out and leave. Aren’t you better to invest the time in understanding what your NAMs want in the long term?

In our next article we’ll discuss the challenge of recruiting superstar NAMs for your business.