key account programs example


    1. Lack of segmentation within existing accounts (not all accounts should be a Key Account)
      • Are the customers growing at the same rate or a better rate as you?
      • Is the company culture similar to our company’s?
      • Are they currently or do they have the potential to provide a significant portion of our revenue (top 20% of customers based on revenue)?
      • Are you utilizing an Account Attractiveness Score approach?
      • Do I understand the key accounts strategy?
      • Are the products and services we provide part of the customer’s future strategy?


    1. No executive support across the company (it’s not just a sales program)
      • Starting a program as a sales initiative is a recipe for failure. Ideally you are aligned top to bottom within your organization as well as aligning those resources with your counterpart on the customer’s side
      • Failure to understand the investment required to the build the program
      • Failure to understand the estimated timeline to realize a return on the investment
      • Lack of a change management program


    1. Failing to introduce an opt-in program agreement (requires a program agreement that outlines what each member is required to provide)
      • Start with listing what you could offer to the a key customer in a key account program
      • List what the client would find valuable within the list (this will be different for each customer)
      • Not clearly defining what each party is committing to within the program
      • Not creating a score card to measure adherence to the program
      • Client not knowing they’re a key customer account


    1. Shifting existing sales reps into the key account manager roles
      • Not defining the required skills and experience needed to be successful
      • These roles are not sales rep level: the program lead is a senior executive level able to manage and make decisions across your largest customers
      • Avoid the bow-tie approach: the resources need to be aligned with a Diamond approach (see below)


        Key Account Management


    1. Not building the required infrastructure to support the program
      • Inability to measure the impact of the program – especially quick wins
      • Not hiring and retaining ‘A’ player talent
      • Forcing a traditional sales rep compensation program is the easiest way to show your best talent the door – the compensation program needs to be adjusted to support the Key Account team
      • Lack of or ineffective onboarding program
      • The biggest mistake of all, is the lack of a Sales Readiness program by product type  


Key Take away:


  1. Avoid these 5 mistakes and you increase the probability of success when launching your Key Account Programs.
  2. Download our Key Account Managment whitepaper.




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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