Is the Era of Key Account Management Dead?

July 22, 2012 at 7:00 AM

key account management deadThe answer is “No."  Key Account Management thrives in organizations that recognized early that the buyer is evolving at a much faster pace than sales organizations. Those key account programs that reevaluate all aspects of their program on annual basis are keeping pace with their key clients.

Are you going into the 2013 planning process with the same approach as 2012? Download our Key Account Framework Review tool to help determine those areas you should be looking at on an annual basis.

The two most common problems that lead to the demise of key account programs or the lack of programs in general are:

  1. The Key Account program is not reviewed on annual basis and legacy reps are not evolving at a pace equal to or greater than their clients. The result: the client is not receiving the program value they originally signed up for.
  2. Sales leaders today are not willing to make the long term investment in key account management because they’re in survival mode. Like a caveman, the sales leader relies on the Hindbrain or the Reptilian Brain instincts of survival to guide decision making. The idea of investing in something that might take 18-24 months to measure the return is not seen as realistic.

The recommendations to avoid the two problems highlighted above are:

  1. Review your key account management program annually (at a minimum). Start with the changes in buyer personas and work your way through the frame below.key account framwork
  2. Develop the structure and strategy for your key account program. Start with discussing the concept with some of your major accounts and pilot the program with one account initially. This is what we would refer to as a “Safety Build” approach. Look for and celebrate some quick wins and expand as you validate the approach, and/or self fund the program.

The era of key account management has not died but the methods and approaches we’ve used in the past are not what your buyers are interested in today. Your buyers are evolving at a rapid pace and the question you need to ask is: Is my Key Account program evolving at a similar pace?


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Topics: Key Account Management

Posted by John Staples

John Staples
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