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Part 3




Mastering Sales Agility

Chapter 12


Selling to Major Accounts

Larry wilson

“Selling is the highest business purpose of the organization. Selling is no longer afunction within the company; it is the function of the company”

Larry Wilson

Nurturing the partnering relationship

Nurturing The Partnering Relationship

Partnering at a higher level

  • Major (i.e., key) Account Selling

    • Key account selling is partnering in such a way that experts in the buying firm are matched with experts in the selling firm, thus enhancing the communication flow between the two firms

Essential elements of a successful key account strategy

Essential Elements of aSuccessful Key Account Strategy

  • Securing top management support and involvement

  • Having a well-defined mission and role

  • Choosing the right accounts

  • Selecting the right key account executives

  • Practicing world-class partnering

What is a partnership

What is a Partnership?

  • A partnership is an agreed-upon relationship between two or more parties who choose to cooperate in an enterprise and share its risks and rewards

  • Partnering requires a degree of cooperation that transcends preferred supplier status

    • Openness

    • Trust

Trust among partners

Trust Among Partners

  • Trust comes from performance

    • Performance can only occur over some period of time

  • Requisite skills

    • Each member must rely on the other to perform the skills needed to ensure the success of the partnership

  • Equity

    • Partners must learn to trust the other partners' intentions

Readiness to learn from each other

Readiness to Learn from Each Other

  • Each partner must believe that she has much to learn

  • Salespeople should keep their minds open

  • Every member of the partnership can develop new skills in order to become an even more productive member of the partnership

The partnering skill set

The Partnering Skill Set

  • Creating shared goals and realistic expectations

  • Managing conflict productively

  • Redesigning systems and processes

Shared goals and realistic expectations

Shared Goals andRealistic Expectations

  • Both clients and their suppliers must have:

    • A mutual vision and mission, and a strategic plan

    • Realistic expectations concerning the contributions to be made by each partner

      • Role expectations

Managing conflict productively

Managing Conflict Productively

  • The opportunities inherent in conflict will revolve around two aspects:

    • For individuals to use their skills to develop ways in which to resolve conflict situations

    • To achieve positive outcomes as a result of the conflict resolution process

Redesigning systems and processes

Redesigning Systems and Processes

  • Thinking "outside the box"

    • Flexibility and adaptability are important

  • All change is considered as a viable option until demonstrated otherwise in the decision process

  • The customer is the focal point

Strategic accounts defined

Strategic Accounts Defined

  • A strategic account is more than just a large customer

  • A strategic customer requires:

    • A high level of customer contact and customer support

    • Structure of the supplier's account team

    • More account penetration than nonstrategic accounts

    • Far more complex planning

Three elements of strategic accounts

Three Elements of Strategic Accounts

  • Accounts are strategic with respect to:

    • Revenues, profits, and growth opportunities for the future

    • The nature of the relationship (partnership) between the seller and the buyer

    • The development of new products and services

Size of account

Size of Account

  • Strategic accounts will likely be large accounts, with sales volume as the determinant of size

    • Some minimum volume requirements must be established

  • Often the largest account in terms of sales volume is not the most profitable account

  • Only the most profitable accounts can justify the higher expenditure in resources dedicated to these partnerships

Figure 12 1 criteria for establishing account priorities

Size of account

Account has multiple

Buying locations

Centralized influence on

Purchasing decision





Low High

Probability of Achieving Potential

Figure 12.1 Criteria for Establishing Account Priorities

Partnering on a strategic level

Partnering on a Strategic Level

  • Companies interested in partnering on a strategic level must employ:

    • A multilocation mind-set

    • A strategic mind-set

Centralized purchasing

Centralized Purchasing

  • Buyers are located typically, in a centralized facility (i.e., headquarter office) and are responsible for dispersing products to remote offices

Figure 12 2 implementing an account planning process


Develop account

planning process

Continuous Improvement


Facilitate buy-in

at local manager

and rep levels

Continuous Improvement


Provide guidance


discipline to ensure

that plans are developed and used

Figure 12.2Implementing an Account Planning Process

Developing the strategic account planning process

Developing the StrategicAccount Planning Process

  • The strategic account planning process should be specific and actionable, and include

    • Objectives and activities

    • Action plans designed to meet the objectives

    • Assigned responsibilities and accountabilities

    • A listing of the resources required to implement the plans

Facilitating buy in

Facilitating Buy-In

  • Training and education programs can facilitate buy-in within the selling organization

  • Sales education programs must emphasize the value that sales representatives and sales managers can provide to these strategic accounts

Providing guidance for plan development and implementation

Providing Guidance for Plan Development and Implementation

  • Key Account Managers provide much guidance and leadership to their account representatives

  • They require ongoing support from top management

  • Some companies have implemented a senior executive sponsor program for strategic accounts

Table 12 1 a senior executive sponsor program for strategic accounts

Table 12.1A Senior Executive SponsorProgram for Strategic Accounts

  • Provides key account managers with a senior level advocate to further insure that the needs of the strategic account are being met

  • Shows the key account that the supplier organization is committed to a long term relationship

  • Serves as a sounding board to the key account manager in the development and implementation of a strategic account plan

  • Assists the key account manager in securing resources if normal channels are unsuccessful

  • Provides all senior management with greater exposure to strategic customers

Figure 12 3 the strategic account management team








Customer Service

and Support



Figure 12.3The Strategic Account Management Team

Characteristics of k ey a ccount m anagers

Characteristics ofKey Account Managers

  • Key account managers must be:

    • Observant

    • Able to recognize patterns

    • Able to lead cross-functional teams

    • Comfortable working across boundaries

    • Able to work well with ambiguity

      • They must orient and opt under uncertain conditions

    • Very creative in developing structured solutions for clients from often-vague situations

Key account manager responsibilities

Key Account Manager Responsibilities

  • Four areas of responsibilities in servicing strategic accounts are:

    • Strategy

    • Investments/operations

    • Account quality assurance

    • Executive role

Refer to Table 12.3--Key Account Manager Responsibilities

K ey a ccount m anager versus n ational a ccount m anager

Key Account Manager versusNational Account Manager

Major account selling versus smaller account selling

Major Account Sellingversus Smaller Account Selling

How to become a top performer

Create a positive attitude

Develop self-confidence

Stay motivated

Be persistent

Manage negatives

Have integrity

Be consistent

Expect success

Manage relationships

Use team skills

Have vision

Follow up

Practice self-improvement

How to Become a Top Performer

Refer to Table 12.4--Characteristics and Practices of Top Performing Salespeople

Account entry and penetration

Account Entry and Penetration

  • The salesperson and sales organization can begin to build the many relationships needed inside the strategic account organization by:

    • Building a relationship at the top of the organization with the key decision maker

    • Working with the gatekeeper and other buying-center members

    • Selling strategically

    • Consistently exceeding expectations and building credibility and integrity

Accessing and keeping the attention of the ultimate decision maker

Accessing and Keeping the Attentionof the Ultimate Decision Maker

  • Know and love the gatekeeper

  • Ensure that the salesperson is perceived as adding value

    • Salespeople should know a lot about their clients’ customers and provide innovative ways to help the client reach them

  • Be consistent and persistent

Focus on results

Raised revenues

Increased efficiency

New customers for the prospect's/client’s company

Increased market share

Increased repeat customer rates

Higher dividends

Happier shareholders

Speedier market delivery of products to put clients ahead of their competition

Decreased downtime of revenue-producing employees

Lower sales costs

Lower expenses

Focus on Results

Show How The Solution Will Offer Benefits

Key elements of selling to strategic accounts

Key Elements of Sellingto Strategic Accounts

  • The sales planning process

  • Internal communication between the key account manager and the strategic account team

  • Personal relationships

Internal barriers to effective key account service

Internal Barriersto Effective Key Account Service

  • Lack of teamwork

  • Lack of focus

  • Varying capabilities

  • Unclear authority

  • Inadequate systems and systems support

The future of g lobal a ccount m anagement

The Future ofGlobal Account Management

  • GAMs are leading the way in establishing global citizenship

    • Basic values of the global citizen:

      • Meaningful work

      • Profitability

      • Integrity

      • Social justice

      • Environmental sustainability

      • Learning

      • Personal and professional growth

Gundling, Ernest (2000), "The Future of Global Management," <I>International Focus: In-Depth Articles

for the Global HR Professional,<I> Society for Human Resources Management, Summer p. 2

Eight important process skills for gams







Informed judgment


Eight ImportantProcess Skills for GAMs

Figure 12 4 duties of global account managers

  • Corporate Manager

  • Leads

  • Identifies and develops talented global, country, and functional managers

  • Global Account Manager

  • Strategist for the organization

  • Architect for global asset and resource configuration

  • Coordinator of transactions across national borders

  • Country Manager

  • Sensor and interpreter of local opportunities and threats

  • Builder of local resources and capabilities

  • Contributor to and active participant in global strategy

  • Functional Manager

  • Scanner for specialized information worldwide

  • Cross-pollinator of leading edge knowledge and best practices

  • Champion of innovations that may offer transnational opportunities and applications

Figure 12.4Duties of Global Account Managers

Source: Adapted from Bartlett, Christopher A. and Sumantra Goshal (1992) “What Is a Global Manager?” Harvard Business Review, (September-October), 124-132.

Part 3


…being promoted to global account managementand having the opportunity to use thetechniques taught in this book in other countries

See you at the Top!

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