Building a Key Account Management ProgramOver the last few months we’ve discussed everything from hiring key account managers to how to implement a key account program but for now, let’s assume you don’t have a program in place but have made the decision to develop one.


There are four primary steps to building a Key Account Program:


  1. Develop the Key Account Sales Strategy
  2. Develop the Key Account Go-To-Market Plan
  3. Design the Key Account Sales Force
  4. Build the Infrastructure to support the Key Account Program


Step 1: Key Account Sales Strategy


  • Select your Key Accounts utilizing the Key Account selection criteria / segmentation analysis outlined here
  • Define the Account Development program outlined on my previous posts on 4/11, 4/24, 5/7 & 5/20
  • Map the Key Account buying process and align / adjust your sales process accordingly
    • A stakeholder wheel/decision tree/steering committee analysis is a must
    • Understanding who and how decisions are made within the Key Account is critical to the program’s success


Step 2: Key Account Go-To-Market Plan


  • Select and define the various channels that support your customers buying processes (assume there are multiple buyers, which means you’ll have multiple sales processes)
  • Example: If you’re selling a solution set into Ford, you may OEM some product but also sell direct. You may have a national accounts program but also leverage various distributors across the country. Identify them all and map out the Go-to-Market plan for each


Step 3: Design the Sales Structure


  • Develop your sizing and structure model based on the alignment of resources across the entire account. Leverage the Diamond structure approach and avoid the Bow-Tie approach
  • Develop your Key Account resource sizing model.
  • Review the Key Account roles and responsibilities outlined here.


Step 4: Key Account Infrastructure



Key Take away:

Have a plan and don’t suck, Key Account Management is a lift equal to the reward, see successful case study #1 here.


There are a lot of resources linked on this post – leave a comment below if you have any questions.  


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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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