We continue to refer to the 4 phases within Key Account Development in order to up-sell and cross-sell within a key account.


Key Account Development 


There are 3 key strategic activities required in Consideration:


  1. Establish the complexity of the problem
  2. Establish the complexity of the solution
  3. Establishing a “value hypothesis” defining what it’s costing the client to continue down the current path


Consideration may be the most difficult of all the key account development phases.  In order to exit this phase in Key Account Development, the following 3 criteria must be met:

  1. The client must provide the current path cost estimate
  2. The client acknowledges they cannot capitalize on the opportunity themselves
  3. Hard evidence exists to support the problem


A few of the tools commonly utilized to support the ability to establish the complexity of the problem and the possible solutions are the Venn diagram and the Fishbone.  


The Venn:

Draw 4 circles or print out one of the many templates online.


  • First circle: list all the possible issues relating to the problem
  • Second circle: list the various levels of awareness for each possible problem
  • Third circle: list all the possible solutions to the problems
  • Fourth circle: list the consequences of inaction of the problems (high, medium, low)
  • Most Venn templates provide the intersection of the 4 circles, within this area list the common issues/awareness levels/solutions/consequence of inaction. These common items become the source content for determining cause-effect and eventual methods you will use to educate the customer


The Fishbone or often referred to as the story telling job aid is utilized to expand your thinking to discover all the possible problems a client might have (unknown, unexpressed or expressed). The Fishbone takes the output of the Root Cause Analysis and further explores the cause & effect. 


Key Account Fishbone Diagram


Key Account Diagram


My next posting will explore the Preference phase within Key Account Development where we will:

  • Help our clients connect the solutions to the problems
  • Confirm that the client understands the upstream & downstream impact of each solution
  • The metrics selection to be utilized to measure improvement.


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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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