In a recent case study, we examined these two comments from executives considering key account management only to find out – 1), the client didn’t understand what it meant to implement key account management and 2), after interviewing all the executives, everyone had a different list of the key accounts.


Ask yourself the following questions:


  1. Who are my key accounts (create the list)?
  2. What does my key account program look like (write it down)?


Question #1:

After completing the activity in question one, ask the executive team and middle management to create their key account list and send them back to you. Compare and contrast the list and determine if you have high level alignment.


considering key account management


Create a Key Account Attractiveness matrix (example provided, perform a self evaluation & client view) to determine whether any of the accounts should be considered for the key account program. The following is a sample of several evaluation criteria:


  • Product fit
  • Growth potential
  • Existing relationships
  • Cultural fit
  • Geographical alignment


In parallel to the above exercise, compare the client’s growth with your growth over a similar time frame. Compare your competitor’s growth with your growth over the same time frame. Determine your growth within each account along the same time frame. You have a problem if:


  • My client is not growing and my plan includes significant growth from them
  • Your competitors are growing at a faster rate than you
  • Your competitors are obtaining a greater wallet share within what you believe to be “your” key accounts.
  • The executive team and middle management are completely misaligned on who the key accounts are.


Question #2:

If you’re like the executives in our case study, you already believe you have a key account program so create a list of the key components of the program.  The list should include:


  • You have an “opt-in” agreement with my key accounts.
  • You have alignment across the entire organization (meaning everyone knows who the key accounts are).
  • Key accounts require XX% of growth potential to be considered for the program.
  • The KA has the ability to leverage X% of our product portfolio
  • You have over resourced the key accounts and have a documented defend, cross-sell, and up-sell strategy.
  • You understand those accounts that are in the key account development phase (working those accounts into the KA program). See customer classification example below.
  • I know my tier 1 accounts that are in the maintenance phase. See customer classification example. Typically these accounts show up on the key account list.
  • I have a key account organizational structure, resource sizing model and account development strategy for each key account.




Key Take away:

  • If you have a key account management program in place today, the above exercise should take no more than 10 minutes to complete (you’re just compiling what you already have).


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John Staples

Leads teams of highly qualified experts, all relentless in their pursuit of helping you make your number.

John is the global leader of SBI’s account management business unit. As such, he and his team help clients across 19 verticals drive top line growth and operational efficiency in sales and marketing.


John’s marketing, sales and product expertise span a multichannel strategic approach. He has an unyielding focus on strategic and key account development, which enables strategic alignment between all functional team members in order to reduce acquisition cost and increase lifetime value.


His broad experience in sales, marketing, product and engineering allows him to bring a unique problem solving approach to his team and clients. As he has discovered through decades of experience, clients are often distracted by the symptoms of a larger problem and overlook the root cause of it.


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