Learn what being a member does for you
The Seller Styles
See a summary of all our programs and certifications
Certified Professional Sales Person(CPSP®)
Develop your potential as a certified sales professional
Certified Professional Sales Leader(CPSL®)
Grow your impact as a certified sales leader
Certified Master Sales Professional (CMSP®)
Join the elite group of sales professionals and leaders
Certified Master Sales Trainer (CMST®)
Advanced Sales Influence (ASI)
Take your influence and leadership to the next level.
Certified Professional Sales Associate (CPSA®)
Learn foundational sales behaviors, strategies, and skills
Power of Contact Marketing
Learn from marketing expert and author Stu Heinecke
Join the top 1% of sales professionals in the world.
Next Level Virtual Coaching
Join our ongoing dynamic virtual coaching community
Explore job postings from some of the best companies in the country looking for sales professionals
Daily Dose of Influence!
Enjoy our video series of influence tips and strategies
Leads To Growth
Dig into our podcast featuring industry leaders and experts
Learn from our high-level sales coaching video series
Women of Sales & Influence – Facebook Live Series
Be inspired by our Facebook Live series spotlighting top women influencers
Women of Sales & Influence – Video Blog
Enjoy valuable, high-level sales strategies to empower your sales goals
The Growth Quotient
You’ve heard about IQ, but what is your GQ?
Our Commitment to You
We are here to help your approach to sales, how you interact with others, and how you perform and execute
NASP Sales Blog
Learn from our member-submitted articles for sales professionals
About Our CEO
Standards of Conduct
Common Questions and Answers
A few decades ago, the role of the salesperson was viewed as superior to the role of an account manager. The salesperson was viewed as “the hunter” and the account manager as “the farmer”. Hunting was the more intense and demanding role. Farming was seen as a low key endeavor, which primarily focused on re-actively keeping clients satisfied. Organizations applied great care to finding hunters. Farmers roles were often filled with people who had great customer service skills.
Today, the most aggressive hunter is viewed by buyers with suspicion. Even the most professional hunters find it increasingly difficult to hit home runs when they get their chance at bat. Singles and doubles are the order of the day. Why? One reason is trust takes time. Buyers often dabble with new suppliers until they have proven that they are reliable and consistent. Another reason is buyers operate with far more complexity than they did a few decades ago. Solutions must be properly integrated in their environments to work. Moreover, potential suppliers need to understand the complexity of these environments and the interests of multiple stakeholders before they can cultivate sufficient demand for a solution.
Unlike the traditional salesperson, the Key Account Manager does not think transactionally. He thinks strategically. He doesn’t pursue every account equally. He selects accounts very carefully. Rather than approach a key account thinking of how he can sell his products and services, he approaches the account to figure out:
As a result of paying attention to these issues over time, the Key Account Manager becomes well-versed in his client’s business; sometimes more than some employees who have a narrow view or who lack the historical context. It is this intimacy with the account that enables the Key Account Manager to take a leadership role and craft solutions that are relevant and financially viable. Unlike the traditional salesperson, the Key Account Manager does not fly blind. He has specificity with respect to how his products and services can advance his client’s business. He is regarded as a strategic resource by his client and by his employer. Ideally, the Key Account Manager has traditional salespeople taking direction from him and pursuing sales opportunities in the context of an overall account plan.
While the Key Account Manager may not get numbers on the scoreboard as quickly as the traditional salesperson, when they do get their chance at bat, they are often hitting home runs that dwarf the transactional salesperson and significantly reward their patience and hard work.
As time runs out on traditional selling, every organization must begin to figure out who are the accounts that really matter and the characteristics that they share. Once these accounts are identified, they must decide who are the individuals that possess the right skills and attributes to develop strategic relationships with these accounts. The skills and attributes of the traditional salesperson are often the opposite of what is required in a Key Account Manager. Therefore, one should select key accounts and Key Account Managers with utmost care. In doing so, you will see that the Key Account Manager will outperform the traditional salesperson every time.
About the author