By - Jim Vess

What are Key Accounts?

Energize Weekly, June 6, 2018

Wallace L. Barron, President, Barron & Associates, Corporate Solutions, LLC.

The utility industry, along with other major industries, is undergoing never before experienced and rapid changes to their marketplaces. Those changes are driven by such things as technology and changing customer demographics along with changing customer needs, wants and expectations about doing business with your company. Many large industries find that 20 percent or less of their customers makeup 80 percent or more of their revenue. Those customers have choices about doing business or not doing business with your company.  The “At Risk” revenue those customers represent is the critical reason for a formal Key Accounts program. They must be engaged like never before to tie them to one’s company through personalized products and services which will mitigate lost revenue risk.

The first, and perhaps the most critical component of a successful Key Account’s program, is a senior staff commitment and active support for the program across company silos. Without this high-level support, the program will never have a hope of reaching its fullest potential and will most likely fail. Having a well thought out business plan, which is a part of the company’s overall strategic plan, and working the business plan is also very important. Choosing the right personality types to be the Key Accounts Managers and empowering them with the budget and tools to fulfil their responsibilities is an important factor for a successful program. The program staff must be held accountable for achieving the business plan goals. It is important to celebrate the hard-won successes with the Key Accounts.

Every successful Key Accounts program has one thing in common and that is a strong advocate, or advocates, at a very high level in one’s company. That senior staff sponsor and supporter must demonstrate clear and visible support at his or her level as well as at the departmental levels across the company. If everyone in the company is aware of how important the program is to the president and senior staff, they will be much more likely to provide the required support to the Key Accounts program. This support must be ongoing at the senior level and the departmental level and not just at the start of the program.

The other departments the Key Accounts program be dependent on for success will depend on the nature of the specific Key Account customer’s business. For example, a large retail chain such as Target, Amazon or Walmart will have completely different needs, wants and expectations from the company than a large manufacturing or other heavy industry Key Account. The Key Account Managers must tailor their offerings and approaches to fit each Key Account in order to bring the highest perceived value-added activities. In general, the successful Key Account’s program will need some support from finance, accounting, legal, IT, distribution engineering, DSM, DER and rates/pricing. A strong interdependency exists between Economic Development and the Key Accounts program.

Want to learn more about Key Accounts? Check out EUCI’s Key Accounts 101 course taking place July 24-25, 2018 in Denver, CO.

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