How a 'Scrum' practice can enable key account management effectiveness

There are many great processes and practices out there that we can pull from other disciplines and industries to increase the success we have in our own businesses. Jay Abraham the very well known marketeer and business strategist would use this practice often to deliver explosive growth results for his and others businesses in completely different markets. 

Take the introduction of lean six sigma in business taken from manufacturing or the now widely used philosophy and approach of 'Kaizen or continuous improvement which was first massively introduced through Toyota as far back as the 1950s. Both with far reaching impact in 1000s of businesses today.

What about Key Account Management? What possible principles, approaches or processes out there could key account management be missing in order to deliver superior service and results for our customers and our businesses?

In a world where your ability to deliver and execute on client projects and fulfil sometimes large and complex activities with others I'd like to consider applying 'scrum' to key account management practice.

For those who might look at the term "scrum"and think why is this guy bringing up 'rugby' or maybe you feel just as confused as I did a year ago with this term.

Scrum is essentially a team-based approach to delivering value to the business through specific and targeted projects. Team members work together to achieve a shared business goal. The Scrum framework encourages effective communication between team members so the team delivers value to the business and ultimately their customers.

It's typically known for being used in the software industry but is now applied to 100s of different project based work. There is a product/project owner, Scrum Master (coordinator) and the delivery team. helpful video.

Here's how it works in practice.

  1. Team receives a business goal 
  2. Figures out how to do the work
  3. Allocates the work
  4. Does the work
  5. Checks in and identifies what's getting in its way
  6. Takes responsibility to resolve all the difficulties within its scope
  7. Works with other parts of the organization to resolve concerns outside their control
  8. Delivers results based on that work

This focus on team responsibility in Scrum is critical. 

What does this mean for key account management?

That's the question I considered when debating this with a peer a few months ago. I was first involved in a 'Scrum' activity a year ago and deployed one in key account management recently.

Here is where I see the benefit. Imagine having access to an easy and simple process whereby anytime a new or specific customer project is raised you, your colleagues and cross departmental peers knew exactly how to approach it, were clear on your roles, focused on collaboration and delivered results for your customer and business.

Sounds great right?!

That's the power I've seen of 'Scrum' in action. It's easier than it looks to get started but like any new thinking it first takes communication between departments and a commitment to apply.

Its becoming clearer and clearer that the art of team is becoming inherently more and more important as businesses wake up to the reality that the customer is a whole business project that should be owned by everyone. Who leads the customer initiative? 

I believe it can start with you, you the key account manager and you the sales leader. In partnership together and collaboration with the wider business.

If you don't have a set idea of how you'll work effectively on those customer projects that matter you'll be working on matters that aren't about the project.

What next?

Here are 6 things you can do today if you want to consider Scrum as a process in your business.

  • Share your intentions with your manager/peers/departments
  • Invite their input 
  • Draw out the experience in the business of people who may have experienced Scrum before
  • Agree the practice and choose a small project with a team of no more than 5-6 to start with.
  • Be clear on the goals, expectations, communication practice and be open that this is trial of a new practice to benefit you, your business and customers. 
  • Get started

I'm now empowering key account teams and sales leaders in my programs to think carefully around about internal customer alignment and delivery. Its often where the pains of miscommunication and misunderstanding occur. 

What next?

If you're a manager of key account team or sales leader who struggles to get internal alignment and most projects run can be painful and deliver results that aren't expected. We should talk. Get in touch HERE

If you're a key account manager or consultant that recognises the importance to deepen, differentiate and grow your key client relationships. Get access to the client growth 3 part email series HERE.


Jermaine Edwards

Founder of the Key Account Hack System - New Key Account thinking that transforms customer relationships and creates predictable sales growth.