Generating Awareness for Key Accounts in Sales


Jeff Thull: Mastering the Complex Sale

As mentioned in Growing A Key Account Via The Cross-Sell, Up-Sell, Defend Approach, Key Account Development includes 4 phases in order to up-sell and cross-sell within a key account.


Sales Force Effectiveness



Awareness involves helping the client understand the opportunities they are missing.


4 key strategic activities required in awareness:

  1. Define what the client is missing
  2. Connect the opportunity to the objectives of the business
  3. Identify the potential victims
  4. Explain the method utilized to determine the opportunity exists


A tool commonly utilized to further develop an existing account is the “Root Cause” job aid. The purpose of the job aid is to bring clarity to an opportunity when a lack of clarity exists for either you and/or the client. Since we’re talking about key accounts, let’s assume you are working within an existing account; let’s walk through the steps within the “Root Cause” job aid in an effort to further develop the account.


Steps 1:

Define the problem:

  1. What problem are we solving?
  2. Are these symptoms or by products of a different problem or perhaps a core issue?
  3. Are we defining the problem at the right level? (too broad or too narrow)
  4. Account Development: Have you utilized the overall sales strategy framework to determine if another area of the sales framework is causing the problem?


Step 2:

Conduct a Root Cause Analysis on your current project:




Potential Causes


Discovery Tasks / Questions




List name of the client problem

Identify potential root causes of problem

  • Develop a discovery plan to validate each potential root cause.
  • Involve as much direct observation as possible.
  • What problem was solved that caused this one?
  • What problems may I create by solving this one?

Is Root Cause valid?


Step 3:

Define the Needs Hypotheses to develop the account:



Potential Causes


How Discovered?








What is your hypothesis of potential client need(s) you uncovered?


Identify potential root causes of problem. 


How did you come across this as a potential problem? Is this an expressed, unexpressed or unknown need of the customer?


Who are the victims that are affected by this issue?


How is it impacting the organization and its people?


Is the problem worth further investigation?



Step 4:

Sit down with the client and walk through the above steps and findings. The exit criteria is the client acknowledges a problem exists.  You have now exited Awareness and moved into Consideration.


I came across this presentation by David Skok of Matrix Partners and really enjoyed the “awareness” component focused on Inside Sales. If your Key Account Management Program includes an Inside Sales component to support or nurture Key Accounts, check out David’s view on “Building a Sales & Marketing Machine”.  


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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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