Research methodology:

  1. Identify KAM implementations whereby success/failure of 3 objectives can be SMART
  2. Break down objectives into 4 levels

    1. Inputs (key actions steps)
    2. Outputs (deliverables)
    3. Purpose (program impact)
    4. Goals (strategic intent)
    5. Data collection – interviews, rep ride a longs, data reviews, surveys, documentation reviews, win/loss analysis, observation
    6. Use of Contrast method – success vs. failure


Case Study # 2: Firmographics


  • Industry:              Media
  • Revenue:            $440 million
  • Size:                      7,100 employees
  • Region:                Global
  • GTM:                     Direct
  • Age of Key Account Program:  16 months


Goal / Results:


  • Drive key account win rates north of 90%
    • Result: Win rate declined by 21%
    • Retain key clients
      • Result: Renewal rate dipped below 80%
      • Renew at stable price points
        • Result: Annual Contract Value is down 6%
        • Increase Customer Lifetime Value
          • Result: Portfolio turnover is up to 27%


Inputs: Key actions taken / Impact


  1. Poorly constructed Key Account Recruitment Package


  • Impact:  increased client leverage, forced price pressure, led to client shopping the offering


  1. Account Planning Process all internal


  • Impact: increased bureaucracy and admin ‘cost’ to reps


  1. Account decision makers decentralized


  • Impact: required rep-to-rep cooperation, which did not happen


  1. Tried to automate in SFA first


  • Impact:  Without running in ‘manual’ mode first the process was not tested and automation investment was wasted


  1. Tried to go from launch to full roll out in 6 months


  • Impact: organizational burnout and turnover of key staff



Outputs: Key Account Program



Key Account Program Contents


  • Client recruitment package was all about the company (the seller)
  • Little benefit to the buyer / potential Key Account
  • Program package resulted in problems attracting current clients to become Key Accounts.
  • The client recruitment process is pivotal and the Benefits Package is the first place to ensure the ‘offer’ is compelling.
  • The recruitment package better be about the customer, not the seller


Outputs: Key Account Plan


Key Account Management Plan



  • Many of the Key Account Plan requests for data were meaningless
  • The only information requested should be strategic/tactical action items that the parties are committed to achieving in pursuit of objectives
  • Account Plans should be streamlined and easy to use


Outputs: Compensation Plan


Key Account Management Compensation


  • Extremely complicated comp plan
  • Calculator page/description of how you get paid is difficult to understand and even harder to administrate
  • Attempting to achieve rep cooperation in KAM Program through compensation alone, and a complicated plan at that, is a mistake
  • Compensation for an Account Manager should be different than how you pay a rep
    •  It should be based on client result, not the rep result (example: pay on customer ROI or customer sat or other account-specific measures)



Output: Project Plan


Key Account Management Project Plan


  • Complicated project plan that shows loads of tasks with ridiculous time estimates
  • Time frame of 6 months not enough
  • Compressing the workstreams caused more damage to the account relationships, AM retention, and program success.
  • When implementing a HIGH RISK program – changes must be well planned, not rushed through for short term goals


Purpose: Project Impact


  • Specific: Win rates went down but no win/loss reviews are occurring to understand root cause
  • Measurable: Program was measurable
  • Attainable: Deliverables/tools were poorly designed, internally focused, difficult to use, and misplaced in their application. Result was poor account and rep adoption
  • Realistic: Objectives were not clear (examples: “own the account”, “get 100% wallet share”, “increase prices”)
  • Timely: Results were expected in an unrealistic 6 months


Key Account Management Goals:


  1. Drive key account win rates north of 90%: Not met
  2. Retain key clients: Not met
  3. Renew at stable price points: Not met
  4. Increase CLV: Not met



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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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