How To Supercharge the Growth of Your Key Accounts

How much business are you leaving on the table every year with existing customers that should be growing? Do you know the revenue potential of your top 10 clients? In the event that this information is not readily known, you could be leaving millions of dollars on the table, because you do not know it’s there or you have no plan to go get it.

Searching for business in existing accounts is something that many sales leaders assume their salespeople or account teams are doing. However, it is frequently not being done systematically or effectively. In fact, according to CSO Insights, only 33% of companies have a formal Key Account Management Plan. That means the other 67% are randomly and ineffectively managing and growing key accounts.

Here are some recommendations that will help your team identify and grow your most important accounts.

Choosing Key Accounts

There are essentially 2 primary parameters for selecting key accounts. First is value and second is potential. There are some customers you simply can’t afford to squander because they represent a significant percentage of revenue. Losing them would have a noticeable impact on the bottom line. Any account that fits this description is a key account, and requires an account plan and a dedicated team assigned to it.

The second category would be accounts that have a great deal of potential that you have not successfully captured. Chances are, you aren’t growing these accounts for various reasons including not being well positioned in them, or not paying adequate attention to improving the relationships.

There are two additional considerations– profit and fit. Certain sizeable accounts are not profitable. Suppressed profits are not good for you, and in the long run, it isn’t good for them. You certainly don’t want to grow or pursue accounts that aren’t profitable, unless that can be changed. The primary way to transform unprofitable accounts is through a concerted effort to build the relationship and improve satisfaction.

Often the reason accounts aren’t profitable is because they aren’t a good fit. Either your solution doesn’t solve their problem, or they aren’t a good cultural fit with your company. When you are selecting key accounts, you want to select and focus on companies that are a good fit, especially if your goal is to expand them.

Here is a step-by-step guide to analyze your existing customers and determine which are the key accounts that need an account team and an account plan. Start with no more than 10 accounts, or about 1 or 2 per account team. Key account plans are an investment of time and resources, so don’t commit to more than you can do.

Account Plan

Now, you have the basis to commence an account plan. This account plan is the road map your team will use to sure up the relationship with your key accounts in order to retain, grow or improve profitability.

Account plans have 5 parts. Follow along with the steps below.

WHO – Who you are selling to, including the company, divisions, and decision-makers?
WHAT – What you are currently selling? What is the customer satisfaction level?
OPPORTUNITIES – What could you be selling?
GOALS – Include revenue goals, relationship goals, and customer support goals.
ACTIVITIES – Things that will move your team toward the goals.
Who – The “who” includes the company, the divisions and the individual decision-makers. If it is one company or one division, then that makes it a bit easier. Create a list of each person that is involved in the decision making process, whether or not you have a relationship with them or not. Make a note, if you think there are others you have not identified. Identify those that you need to develop or improve your relationship with.

What – What products are you currently selling, and what is the customer satisfaction level with those products? You may need to create a grid with the companies/customers across the top and the products down the side, to get a real sense of what the satisfaction level is. You will want to highlight areas of dissatisfaction.

Opportunities – Make a grid with the products you have available across the top and the divisions and departments down the side. Mark the box for each thing they have purchased from you or other suppliers. Everything else is white space, otherwise known as opportunities to explore. Based on the grid you just created, as well as information from the client, you can identify which are real opportunities for each of the key clients selected and create a list of clear opportunities with revenue amounts and close dates.

Goals – Lookat the information you gathered, and begin to build a list of goals. Create 4 different types of goals; revenue, relationship, customer success and stop investments.

Revenue Goals – Add the opportunities you identified and get a total opportunity value for each of the next 3 years.
Relationship Goals – These are goals are focused on building relationships with individuals who influence the overall relationship.
Customer Success Goals – These are goals are focused on helping your customers achieve their goals.
Stop Investments – This means to stop investing resources that don’t move the overall relationship forward.
Activities – Salespeople spend a lot of time actively engaging in activities that don’t result in improved relationships or closed deals. Having a key account plan will help prioritize activities for your team, so they are focused on the activities that are moving toward the long-term goals for this customer.

Account Planning

Now that you know what you need to include in an account plan, it’s time to create one. This is a generic process, which can be revised to meet your current situation.

Step 1: Have the account owner (sales rep or account manager) pull together as much information as they can about the selected key account and begin to fill in an account planning document.

Step 2: Decide who needs to be on the team to make sure that you are covering all the bases. Should you include:

The sales professional who sold the product or service
The account professional who is managing the product or services
The customer success person in charge of the account
The CEO or other senior manager
It’s up to you who is included, but we encourage you to make sure that all the people who touch the account are involved in some form or fashion.

Step 3: Set up a series of meetings.

The initial account planning meeting
Go through the who, what & opportunities, filling in as much as you can.
Discuss what’s going on with your customer:
Customer’s company or division goals
Problems they’re having in their organization
New products or products they’re eliminating
Changes in leadership or staffing that affects your position
Changes in their industry

Make a list of missing information

Assign someone to find that information for the next meeting

The Goal Setting Meeting

Review the who, what & opportunities.
Review what’s going on with your customer.

Establish 3-5 goals for this client:

Revenue goal
Customer success goal
Relationship goal
Stop investment

Determine what activities you are currently doing that do not support the goals you have established.
Assign activities to team members to move you toward your goals.
The Check-in
Discuss status of actions agreed upon at the last meeting
Discuss any changes in data you have on the account
Discuss any new information about the account
Discuss any new problems the account is having
See if there are new actions required
Quarterly Check-ins
Discuss progress toward goals since the last meeting
Discuss status of actions agreed upon at the last meeting
Discuss any changes in data you have on the account
Discuss any new problems the account is having
See if there are new actions required
See if opportunities need to be adjusted
See if goals need to be adjusted


After your team has completed the first two rounds of account planning meetings for each of the key accounts, you will have a pretty good idea of how much revenue you can anticipate from each of those accounts.

Account planning is significant for two reasons. First, it solidifies your position with accounts or at the very least prepares you to lose an account you can’t solidify. Second, it helps you accurately forecast how much revenue you can expect from your top ten accounts.
Contact Falcon Project Consultants to help your team structure a key account plan.