As mentioned previously, key account team structure has literally hundreds of variations in support of the key account (mapped to the customer buying process). Fundamentally the key account teams include multiple levels of sales resources. Specifically, a senior executive responsible for the overall account, global / regional Vice Presidents, directors for specific territories, direct sales reps and lastly inside sales reps.


The structure below provides one example of the inside sales reps role in the key account. In this example I’ve highlighted 2 sets of inside sales reps / executives. The first reports directly to the key account director and the others working within specific lines of business. The example indicates the team is supporting multiple products lines, selling across a number of different lines of business. The level of interaction and skills for the inside sales team members various based a number of factors that include product/solution complexity, required sales process and type of sales transaction.




The key to successful interaction between inside and outside sales is the development of common goals and objectives that include team and account level goals. Raise your hand if you had to sort out a battle between reps over commission credit (include me). Dysfunctional key account score cards and compensation programs are one of the top 5 reasons why key account programs fail.


How do I get started determining the division of focus within my key accounts?


  • Start as you would any segmentation exercise except perform it by product type within your key accounts
  • Select those products in maintenance mode and assign them to the inside sales team
      • The inside sales reps job; retain, cross sell and up-sell.
  • Identify those products that are more transactional in nature and assign those to the inside sales team
      • The inside sales rep job; maintain, cross sell and up sell.
  • Conduct a discovery exercise between you and your key accounts determining of the products left with the outside sales reps, which products really require a face to face interaction (you’ll find less and less these days)


sept_webinar_ctaThe result of the above exercise; it provides the foundation for the classic shift and lift of responsibilities and elevates the outside sales reps focus. The impact: increased selling time, reduced cost of sales and increased key account life time value.


In my next post we’ll discuss sizing the key account teams in support of the overall Key Account Management program.


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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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