Almost every professional B2B salesperson comes to grips with one of the challenges of penetrating key accounts, writes author and speaker Dave Kahle. Key accounts are different than the ordinary, and require some more sophisticated skills and strategies. In the latest issue of Repertoire, Kahle offers fundamentals for effectively penetrating key accounts. The following is one:


Recognize that key accounts are different

First of all, they are larger, but that’s only the beginning. Their decision-making processes will be much more complex, and in some cases, highly structured. A product that may, in a smaller account, only need one person’s approval to purchase can require dozens of people to sign off on it in a key account.

The people have widely different specialty skill sets, perspectives, and motivations. In smaller accounts, you may only have to deal effectively with an owner or executive. In key accounts, the same product may require skillful communications with an engineer, a purchasing agent, a project manager and a foreman. Each of these specialties is likely to have a different personality type, challenging the sales person to adapt.

Because of the size and complexity, there are a variety of motivations and agendas inside a key account. A naive salesperson can be constantly frustrated because they all don’t think the way he/she thinks.

I can go on for pages on ways in which key accounts are different, but this is sufficient to make the point. If you don’t adjust your strategies and tactics to the unique dynamics of a key account, you will be wasting your time.


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