It’s true! Looking after your most important customers is crucial and sometimes the “traditional salesperson” is not wired correctly to achieve the best results. Some of the best account managers we know come from “consultative” backgrounds like customer service, operations and HR.

Let’s have a look in more detail to understand why!


Traditional Salesperson



Consultative Salesperson

  • Salesperson focuses on how to sell


  • Often recruited for “hunting skills” and “killer instinct”.


  • Competitive win-lose is OK


  • Sees role in terms of products sold, results achieved and league tables


  • Focuses on the back-end of the sales process i.e. objection handling and “closing” the customer down


  • Has the answers – the prospect asks the questions


  • Talks endlessly about own products and services


  • Boring – talks about self


  • Sees self as a bit of an expert


  • Has a plan





  • Viewed with suspicion and caution


  • Standard approach used most of the time


  • Short-term focused


  • Stays awake at night worrying about his sales target.


  • Overcomes objections in a brisk and sometimes uncaring manner


  • Believes that “buyers are liars”


  • Closes the sale


  • Reluctant to follow-up


  • Can often be a bit of a loner pursuing personal glory


  • Keeps boss at bay


  • Credible with only 1-2 main decision makers and influencers


  • Often critical of colleagues – provides plenty of “heat”


  • Produces an action plan to develop business


  • Buys the occasional lunch for customers


  • Works as an effective supplier



  • Salesperson focuses on how people buy


  • Knows that keeping the customer “alive and well” is more important


  • Collaborative win-win is essential


  • Sees role as improving the profitability and performance of the customer first


  • Focuses on the front-end i.e. rapport building, questioning, listening and “opening” the customer up


  • Has the questions – the prospect has the answers


  • Talks about value and compelling return on investment


  • Talks to customers about themselves


  • Acknowledged as an industry expert


  • Understands the customer’s plans





  • Trusted


  • Tailored approach with each customer


  • Works with the longer term in mind


  • Knows what is keeping the customer awake at night


  • Handles objections as s/he recognises that they are often signs of interest


  • Believes that buyers have feelings too


  • Secures the next stage of commitment


  • Regularly follows-up


  • Team player – “we were all involved in this achievement”


  • Mobilises and deploys the boss


  • Credible with all decision makers and influencers, including the boardroom table


  • Supportive of colleagues – provides plenty of learning and “light”


  • Produces a joint action plan with the customer


  • Is bought the occasional lunch by customers


  • Works as an exceptional partner!


So………….who is managing your most important customers? If you would like more information on the KASH Profile for a key account manager (the knowledge, attitudes, skills and habits they need) check out other articles on this site.