August 12, 2021 | Written by Sarah Kordyban

Strategic Account Management Best Practices

Strategic Account Management is a process that focuses on building strong and mutually beneficial relationships with a company’s most important customers. Here's how you can implement it.

Strategic Account Management is a process that focuses on building strong and mutually beneficial relationships with a company’s most important customers. Those relationships are essential since it is typically, only a small percentage of customers account for the majority of revenue. Therefore, losing just one of these major accounts could be potentially fatal to a small business. With strategic account management, businesses can become trusted advisors to key customer accounts.  

A customer you can continue to provide value for over the long-term is significantly more valuable than the one you make a single sale with. But how do you implement this process?  

The most successful organizations use a formal, measurable and repeatable process for all of their strategic accounts. If you are an organization that already has a plan in place or you are just about to start, following these six steps will help your team succeed.   

1. Define Strategic Account

Before following a strategic account management process, your team must first define what a strategic account means within your organization. Among your objective criteria, you may decide to include:  

  • The current size of the account  
  • Product fit   
  • Growth potential  
  • Existing relationship  
  • Cultural fit  

And most importantly, the ongoing value that can be provided to both parties. The criteria your team chooses will differ between organizations depending on high-level strategic goals.  

2. Determine Value Provided


To maintain an ongoing relationship with the customer, your team must prove that you can continue providing value. If the exchange is not mutually beneficial, there is no need for a relationship at all.  

3. Account for Teams


In a transactional sales process, it is not uncommon to assume that one person is on each side of the buying and selling process. The difference in strategic account management is that key accounts will often have multiple individuals from both sides. The selling organization will then benefit from establishing a process to assign staff to support the key accounts and identify their supporting roles.  

4. Create a Plan


Strategic account management is about creating a plan with the customer and adjusting the plan to fit the client's current needs. Remember, you and your customer are working towards success as a team and will need a plan to get you there.   

5. Deliver Exceptional Experiences


Your organization needs to deliver. The customer journey for key accounts should be flawless. By default, key accounts should have more resources assigned to them, thus having a higher chance of a better experience if the organization’s processes work well together.

6. Measure Your Performance

With a new set of processes in place, the next step will be to measure the performance of each of your accounts. Have your documented processes helped you progress towards your short-term and long-term goals? Have you met your KPI’s?  If not, consider what needs to be adjusted to succeed the next time. 


Continuing to monitor performance ensures that your team is living up to the expectations you have set, and your key account is meeting its obligations as well. After analyzing your results, you may notice that an account once holding strategic value is no longer meeting the standard. In this case, identifying the change in priorities can help your team pivot if needed.  


By properly managing and coordinating internal resources, strategic account management can reinforce the ongoing customer satisfaction, exceeding expectations for prompt delivery, accurate order fulfillment, rapid response to inquiries and efficient after-sales service. As these processes become a habit, enhancing the customer journey will become standard.  

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