How Does Strategic Account Management Differ From Key Account Selling?

Most of the time, the sales team initiates strategic account programs. Sales may see an opportunity to generate more revenue by focusing its efforts on the larger accounts. Sales often begins these initiatives with what we call a key account selling approach. Key account selling is a part of strategic account management but it is not the same thing. The distinction between the two is important for our discussion. The following chart distinguishes between these two (of many) approaches in managing an important account. Figure 1-1 isolates the behaviors of a key account selling approach and a strategic account management program. The chart concentrates on behaviors because of the ever-present problem of program names: a supplier may have a key account selling program called a strategic account management program (common) or a strategic account management program called a key account selling program (also common). Our primary interest is in what these firms do with their crucial customers.

Key Account Selling Programs

Strategic Account Management Programs

  1. Under a year

  2. By revenue potential

  3. Vertical market

Planning Horizon Customer Segmentation

  1. 1 to 3 years

  2. By revenue potential and strategic criteria:

    1. How they prefer to buy

    2. Willingness to partner

    3. Complementary competencies

  1. Existing products

  2. Some custom solutions


  1. Existing products

  2. Custom solutions

  3. Firm competencies

  1. Products and service

Differentiates by

  1. Value delivered over time

  1. Account manager

  2. Sales team

Primary Account Responsibility

  1. Account manager who can commit resources

  2. Cross-functional team

  3. Supplier executives

  1. Short- and long-term revenue

  2. Share of customer

  3. Competitors

Primary Concerns

  1. Profitability

  2. Short- and long-term revenue and profitability

  3. Account's business challenges

  4. Share of customer

  1. 10–25

Number of Accounts per Manager

  1. 1–5

  1. Half salary, half commission

  2. Sales/product plans

Account Manager Compensation

  1. Generous salary with some incentive bonus

  2. Overall account plan

  3. P&L of account relationship

  1. Sales

  2. Vertical expertise

  3. Understands customer's business

Account Manager Skills Required

  1. Sales and/or general management skills

  2. Strategic thinking

  3. Excels in ability to influence without authority

  4. Deep understanding of customer's and supplier's business

Figure 1-1: Key Account Selling Programs and Strategic Account Management Programs—A Comparison

Successful strategic account management tends to be a firmwide initiative, systematically and proactively delivering strategic solutions to multiple contacts at targeted accounts—to capture a dominant share over time.

The Seven Keys to Managing Strategic Accounts
The Seven Keys to Managing Strategic Accounts
ISBN: 0071417524
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 112

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