How to use maslows six human needs in key account management

Many of you will know about the pioneering work of Abraham Maslow and the hierarchy of human needs. Six needs that connect to the core of our humanity regardless of culture, race or gender.


Since its introduction well over 30 years ago it has been re adapted by many others and most famously by Tony Robbins.

The one thing that has fascinated me is we've known about these ideas for over 30 years. Very little of the impact of this has translated to sales and particularly key account management. 

Maslow's hierarchy of needs in its current form needed a view that was easier to digest in a sales and customer success context. I'll be using Tony Robbin's version of the six human needs to share how you as the key account manager can apply these basic human needs to complex customer conversations. You'll find that you'll fundamentally increase your ability to connect at a deeper level and help you and your customers to win.

First of lets recap those six needs mapped over by Tony Robbins. 

1. Certainty: assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure

2. Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli

3. Significance: feeling unique, important, special or needed

4. Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something

5. Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability or understanding

6. Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to and supporting others

In key account management you are fundamentally managing a collection of human thoughts, feelings and behaviours. All wanting to be heard, seen, understood and served. You can't possibly seek to be as effective in this without getting to know people at a core level and what motivates us to move. 

I want to take the adaptation of Maslow, re-purposed by Tony Robbins and create a representation exclusive for Key Account Managers and how you might apply this.

1. Certainty translation to KAM -  Ensure your customers feel safe. Look for immediate ways to reduce risk for them which will almost immediately raise confidence and trust. Check out this blog for more ideas HERE

2. Uncertainty/Variety translation to KAM  - Look for ways to bring newness to your customer relationships. Don't just continually go back with the same old routine. You're looking to stir positive connecting emotions like excitement, hope and appreciation. This might mean presenting information in a more creative and dynamic way for your customer that is unexpected but helpful. This doesn't mean you have to come up with new ideas every month. It might mean thinking about one or two ideas a month. Make sure the activities you have with your customer every month are still in line with yours and their goals.

3. Significance translation to KAM: Look for ways to do something uniquely special for your customer. Things as simple as birthday cards or notes of congratulations if the company has achieved something great will go a long way. Find whats best for your industry and personality of your customer. Take the small step and get out of your comfort zone. 

4. Connection/Love translation to KAM: Look for ways to show you care. I saw a great example of this with a key account manager I trained in the Netherlands. He had found out his contacts colleagues had died in that department. He used his own money to fly out and attend the funeral. One of the most amazing gestures of caring I've ever seen with any sales person.  

5. Growth translation to KAM: Look for ways to help your personal contacts achieve something that isn't dependent on them spending money with you. It could be as simple as paying attention to goals or ambitions they say they have personally. If you see something of interest to help them in that. Share it with them.

6. Contribution translation to KAM: Look for ways to share in what is for  me the ultimate human connection. Contribution and the feeling of giving something back. Even the most fickle of person cannot resist the feeling of that enabling action of giving.  Where possible contribute to causes important to your customers and invite them to participate in your own. Don't just make it a one off but try to create community around it. You wont be able to harness the best from those experiences together without making this something that is committed long term. 

Let me know your thoughts around these ideas and what you could do for your clients based on these six human needs.

If you're a key account manager, manager of key account teams or consultant take the next step to connect and get my Wednesday KAM growth insights newsletter. Click HERE or get connected at www.jermaineedwards/signmeup 

Looking for Key Account Growth Coaching or key account business Transformation click on the links or simply get in touch HERElook forward to helping you get more from your key customer relationships this year.