key account personaThe importance of clear, detailed personas for the various buyers within your Key Accounts is critical to your success.


Put yourself in the following situation and think about how you will react. Let’s use the scenario that the CEO of a Key Account was replaced and he/she replaces some key positions within your Key Account buying team.



What do you do as it relates to the client Persona development?


A. Do nothing?

B. Leverage existing client & buyer personas?

C. Develop new Individual buyer personas?

The correct approach would be B & C.


Let’s assume you already have the following in place:


  1. You understand the client’s market (s) as well or better than they do
  2. You have a detailed understanding of how your client is successful in their market (s)
  3. You have a complete view of the various client initiatives and the relative importance of those initiatives to the buying team members
  4. You have a thorough understanding of the Key Account buying process and your sales process is aligned to the buying process goals
  5. You and your team have a complete view of the area within your client where your product/solution resides
  6. Your Client persona includes (many of these items should be in each account plan):
    1. Complete list of the roles involved in the decision making process
    2. Complete list of the various resources that support or are required for your product/solution
    3. The goals of the group that utilizes your product/solution
    4. What drives increased utilization or need for your product/solution
  7. You have a persona created for each title within your Key Account Stakeholder Wheel.


When it comes to Key Accounts, you need detailed personas down to the individual level (i.e. Bill Smith, SVP of Applications) not just a title (i.e. VP of Operations, SVP of IT Applications) level persona. The Stakeholder Wheel includes an example of those key positions that require a detailed persona. Depending on your product/solution the titles will be adjusted but the approach is the same.


Minimum requirements of Individual personas:


  1. Background – years of experience, associations, etc (essentially everything from their LinkedIn account but researched to the next level)
  2. Responsibilities – complete details of his/her job requirements including decision making process
  3. Current Focus – what are his/her top 5 programs or initiatives
  4. Goals – what are his/her primary goals within the position (typically right off the score card)
  5. General philosophy or style – examples: by the book, high integrity, consensus builder, very analytical, etc.
  6. Buys on – time to get result, staff investment, proof, ability to execute, etc
  7. Buyer feelings – insecure, threatened, impatient, skeptical, personal risk, etc
  8. Buyer knowledge – knowledge in company, product or industry, etc
  9. Buyer patterns – annual planning process, critical political problems, etc
  10. Historical buying patterns – behaviors exhibited within last position or prior company (why did they leave, why did they agree to come to the new company), have they typically purchased from your competitor, etc


Whenever new players enter into the buying team, a detailed persona is essential to successfully; defend, cross sell and up-sell within your Key Accounts


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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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