Strategic account plans: their crucial role in strategic account management

by Malcolm McDonald and Diana Woodburn


Strategic account plans sit at the core of KSAM: they specify the value to be offered to the customer and received by the supplier. They should be what gets done, and yet very little has been written about them. This paper discusses the essential elements of strategic account planning: the purpose of strategic account plans; their role in value creation; the importance of understanding and quantifying customer profitability; the key account manager's role in their development; and the plan production process, linked to corporate planning. Since these plans are highly confidential and rarely available for study, almost nothing has been documented on what they look like and what they contain, so their structure, format and content are described. With so much business at stake, plan quality needs to be excellent, but unfortunately quality is an issue, as is implementation. Finally, the information captured in these plans can quantify the value created by KSAM at the level of individual customers and the more aggregated levels of all customers and the whole company, although the equation is far from straightforward. Overall, strategic account plans play a critical but overlooked role in successful KSAM.


A great many excellent and important ideas about key strategic account management (KSAM) programmes have been researched and discussed by many authors, ...

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