key account growthThere are five strategies for selling more business into your key accounts, but many companies only utilize one or two. It begins by understanding who your buyers are and why they would buy from you in the first place. Forrester Research has identified four distinct patterns of decision-making by buyers who are involved in allocating resources and funds to meet a specific business goal. These “buyer archetypes” are determined by the outcome motivations of the people who are involved in the decision, and the information they require to make their decision.

To determine your strategy for account growth, it’s important to understand your current and desired relationships. Here’s a framework to help you choose the right strategies for growing your key accounts:

Enrich And Enlarge

Many key account relationships are stuck in the bottom left quadrant with price-focused procurement buyers. These buyers simply want a sales rep to deliver specs, pricing and other information to make a decision between vendors. If you sell commodity offerings, then you are likely selling to this type of buyer. Here you have two growth strategies to work with: enrich (sell more of the same products to existing buyers) or enlarge (sell new or complimentary products to existing buyers).


The buyers in the top left quadrant are typically sourcing groups that need salespeople who understand procurement and governance process, and who can assemble a financial case for purchasing a large volume of services. To build more volume, though it won’t address your margin issues, you can equip your salespeople with the skills and tools to execute on the extend strategy; to help these source groups consolidate spending across multiple buying centers to your company.


Most companies want to move their relationships from transactional, low-margin business, to larger revenue and higher-margin deals with higher altitude buyers. The first way to do this is to expand, by getting your salespeople focused on working with the executive buyers who typically fall into the lower right quadrant. These buyers are trying to solve complex business problems, and need salespeople with relevant expertise who can help diagnose and solve their problems. Using the expand strategy, salespeople can sell process solutions to current or new departments.


The second way to move to this desired relationship level is to elevate. This means working with the buyers in the upper right quadrant. These are typically senior executives/board members looking to salespeople with expertise and business savvy, who understand how to lead initiatives and transform a business. Through the elevate strategy, salespeople can work with these buyers on cross-organizational transformation projects. Keep in mind; this strategy is really reserved for companies that have true business transformation capabilities.

Again, planning for growth begins with honestly assessing your current relationships within all of the entities in an account, and understanding what motivates their decisions. Then you can determine a realistic and phased plan to move your relationships to the types of buyers and businesses where you want to focus. Realize that this almost always requires new skills and different kinds of messaging/content to help salespeople align to these different kinds of buyers.

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