Key Account Management is not a one size fits all approach; the program overview below highlights some key phases and requirements.


I’ve outlined some initial assumptions (Table 1) as well as some planning and implementation requirements in order to develop and sustain a Key Account Management program. Each assumption can be discussed at great length individually and will be subjects of future discussions. In the mean time refer to Sales Strategy, Talent Management and Territory Design for information related to those topics.


Key Account Management Program Execution


Table 1


Key Account Management is not just the undertaking of the sales organization; it involves every part of the business (table 1) and therefore is a business commitment, not a sales initiative. Our goal in launching the program remains: (1) sustainable competitive advantage, (2) greater account loyalty and (3) increased account profitability.


Implementation within your Key Accounts requires the ability to determine the culture of the company selected by our Key Account segmentation exercise.


Several cultural considerations need to be examined in order to roll out our program, keep the following in mind when developing the assumptions and implementation program:


  1. Structure: Is it formal or informal? Who’s driving it?
  2. Ownership: Is it owned by venture capitalists, private funders, the public, or the government?
  3. Style: Is it entrepreneurial or bureaucratic? Is it driven by markets, technology, or money?
  4. Contextual Systems: What are the values, the social fabric, and the reward systems?
  5. Industry: Is it in the same industry or in a different one as your own? What is the degree of government regulation? What behavior patterns are indigenous to that industry?


Not surprisingly, the more highly differentiated the national and corporate cultures, the more time-consuming the implementation.


Key takeaways for Key Account Management Program Implementations:


  • Agree Key Account Management is a business decision not a sales initiative
  • Create business alignment and communication across the entire company
  • Identify, hire and train the right talent for the program team
  • Start with the right number of Key Account, use a pilot approach
  • Be prepared for the long haul, 12-24 months just to get through the pilot phase
  • Quantify and communicate value (client & company) from the beginning
  • Leverage automation to strengthen and bind the Key Accounts to the company
  • Be prepared for continuous improvement / change management


Great, I know some tips on executing the roll out of the Key Account Management program but who’s going to run the program? In my next post we’ll discuss the Ideal Profile of the Key Account Management team members.


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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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