No Crystal ball provided here; the fact is the time to implement Key Account Management is when the various aspects of the customer’s relationship will work to the mutual benefit of both companies.


Jump into key account management too early and you waste valuable time and money. Jump too late and you can watch your competitor slowly squeeze you out as you scrabble to salvage the account. If the latter happens, make sure your resume is updated.


Implement a Key Account Program


We are all familiar with the 7 deadly sins: pride, covetousness, lust, envy, gluttony, anger and sloth. What about the corresponding sins of key account management. Peter Cheverton does a nice job highlighting several within Global Account Management. The list below expands on those sins within Key Account Management:


Check all that apply to your organization:


  • Silo Mentality – we see them in every company, everyone protecting their turf. Much to the detriment of the corporation. You know who I’m talking about and it frustrates you to no end. The silo mentality is a major barrier to key account implementation success.


kam balance business objective


  • Multiple or competing business units – “A guy from your company just left and he said he was our Account Manager”, sound familiar? How many accounts do you have multiple reps calling on? If a key account program were in place, everyone would know what’s happening across the account. In the above example, instead of being surprised, they would have met in the parking lot exchanged notes and went into the account with more knowledge/value.
  • Failure to measure the impact – perhaps the greatest of all sins. Not measuring the impact will result in the departure of many team members including you. Establish the goals and measure the progress toward successfully achieving every goal and milestone.
  • Resistance from the sales team – Always viewed as a threat to their income. Let’s face it, key account management is hard work. The idea of selecting a small group of customers and building a group of seasoned veterans to execute the plan always leaves some feeling left out. Don’t leave the field behind if they are critical to your success.
  • Lacking the required people or skills – remember its 50% talent and 50% the conditions you place them in. Ignore the talent requirements and you will fail (see resume prep above). It has been said and I can confirm from my own experience that the Key Account Manager or Global Account Manager is the hardest position to fill in the organization.
  • Too many accounts – refer to one of my prior post explaining the selection of the key accounts. Creating an implementation plan that includes a pilot program is required to ensure program success.
  • No plan to make resources available –Not including the support resources or aligning the field sales team is also a critical mistake. The lack of involvement or communication is the primary reason clients opt out of the key account program. Think about that, your lack of communication flushed all your hard work down the drain. Be collectively exhaustive in your communication.
  • Top Management short term mentality – Quit while your behind. If you don’t have top management support, stop and refocus your energy. Key account management is not a short term program. If the executive team doesn’t have the stamina to go the distance, don’t start.


Key Takeaway: Make sure you’re exhaustive in your preparation and planning when launching a Key Account Program. Don’t wait until you’re 18 months into the new job before determining whether you’re ready for a key account program. The statistics say you may be leaving shortly. Download this Key Account Readiness form to determine the health of your Key Account Program.


Key Account Readiness



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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