By this point in Key Account Development we have accomplished the following three objectives:


  1. Made the client aware of the opportunities they are missing
  2. Established the need for outside expertise
  3. Developed your firm as the preferred solution provider


Often times the client needs help understanding how to make a decision. The need for a clear decision making process helps avoid the various resistance that will be encountered along the way. Make no mistake, you will have your champions or resistors, they often flip flop throughout the process depending on whether they’re able to manipulate the process or solution to their advantage.


If they don’t see the ability to leverage the situation more than likely they will launch a wrench into the gears of progress or in politically charged environments, create enough questions to “time out” the deal and we all know time kills all deals.


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 Management Development


There are 4 key strategic activities required in Intent:


  1. Help the client understand what they are looking for
  2. Help the client comprehend the value of the solution
  3. Help the client determine the evaluation criteria
  4. Prevent the “my client just doesn’t get it”


In order to exit this phase in Key Account Development, the following 3 criteria must be met:


  1. Client knows what to look for
  2. Client knows how to measure the value
  3. Client knows how to compare the options


The solution development tool is also utilized within the Intent phase but it is the Option Assessment Tool that supports the core exit criteria of measuring and comparing the options. I’ve included 2 examples below, the evaluation criteria is listed on the left hand side, the options along the top (this includes “do nothing”) and the measurement input where they intersect. The tool utilizes a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 representing the highest level of confidence of that option meeting the evaluation criteria. In most complex sales the solution may be broken up into multiple components, solutions or services. The option assessment tool must be completed for each piece of the solution to avoid not providing a complete option decision path.


Key Account Assessment


Key Account Management Assessment


The output of the above Key account development job aids is to help the client reach the exit criteria. The decision process cannot be overly complex, if the path to a decision is not clear, the client won’t see the path and other decisions or projects will take the place of yours. We all know your project is not the only one competing for the same dollars. This includes all internal and external projects, so a clear path and well understood benefit analysis are “key” to putting your project at the top of that list.


This concludes my 4 phase blog on Key Account Development; my next posting will explore resource alignment within Key Account Management. Are your resources properly aligned? Are they the right resources?


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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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