Companies too often sit back and decide from behind their desk that we should have a Key Account Program and proceed to pick some of their biggest customers or prospects and decide “these are our Key Accounts”. If it were only that simple!
The mistake most companies make is they don’t talk to the customer or prospect about the value provided if they opt into a Key Account Program. A best practice by those leveraging world class Key Account Programs is a contract between the service provider and the customer or prospect defining what each party is responsible for doing within the partnership.
The partnership agreement defines what the supplier is going to provide, in addition to what the customer is expected to do in return.
What is expected by the customer ranges from access to technical resources or access to the latest software or hardware solutions to exclusive rights to a specific tool/application? The supplier in return may gain access to a new product lab (a place all new products/services/applications must eventually pass through) to co-development activity or exclusive supplier arrangements. World class Key Account Programs include commitments to purchase a specific amount of products or services over a defined period of time
The 3 most common mistakes of Key Account Program are:
- The customer doesn’t know they are a key account
- The company has not defined what being part of a key account program really means
- No written agreement exists between the 2 companies defining the expectations.