When do you stop doing what is right only for yourself and do what you know is right for the company? The examples I see are numerous, and I don’t need to look very far to highlight examples I see of senior executives, looking out more for themselves rather than the company that signs their check.  It’s said, it starts with leadership. So why do we have so many senior leaders setting the wrong example: it’s about me, not the company, yet they expect different behavior from their teams?


political battles key account managementColin Powell said:
“Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership”.

If you’re planning to build a key account program or all the signs exist that the customer would benefit from a program; take a strong position and do what is right for the company. When I look back at the times in my career where I had the most success, it was always those opportunities when I spoke my mind, had a strong opinion and did what was right for the company and not always right for my bank account.


So here’s my challenge to you sales leaders as it relates to key account management: do you see all the signs that your company would benefit from a key account program yet you wait for someone else to step up?  Well, take the opportunity, you may find huge success, more reward than you sacrificed, and perhaps an example for others to follow. You chose to lead, define the need/vision but more importantly you acted upon it.


If the signs are there, step up to the plate and take a swing. No one hit a home run from the on deck circle. Customer indications you need a Key Account Program:


  • Client or prospect has high growth potential but minimal account penetration (wallet share)
  • Little differentiation & few competitors for the product: don’t be the odd man out!
  • Provides a disproportional amount of your revenue / potential
  • Consumes 70-100% of your product / solution set
  • Buys on competitive price but values the quality, service, and support
  • Your product / solution  is essential to their success
  •  You have similar company cultures
  • Request’s support for product or service  development


Take away: If you recognize the key account opportunity: gather your evidence, pull together a meeting, and present the business case.


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John Staples

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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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