Tips for Managing Your Key Accounts

In the kitchen and bath industry, most of us depend on repeat referral business from customers. So, how do you maintain and retain your key accounts, and ensure that you maximize your referral potential from these clients?

Just servicing a key account is not going to realize your maximum potential return on your investment. It’s going to take management.

Key accounts could be other allied professionals like architects, interior designers, builders, contractors or other suppliers. But regardless of where the repeat referral business comes from, it’s important to remember that your key accounts are your competitors’ main prospects. Protecting the referral business from your competitors will ensure you are maximizing your profit potential.

Managing your key accounts effectively ensures continued business prosperity. Equally important is the need to find new key accounts to nurture, grow and retain.


Identify which of your client base is (or has the potential to become) one of your key accounts. By simply applying the Pareto Principle of 80% of one’s sales are going to come from 20% of one’s customers, we can generally identify key accounts. The top 20% of your customer base is also generally going to generate the most return on your time and financial investments.


If you maintain an ongoing relationship with your key accounts, adapting to circumstances as needed, you’re more likely to retain these accounts. A few notes on how to position yourself within your key accounts’ relationships:

  • Understand your customers’ internal organization. You may have one main contact at your key accounts’ business. It may be an individual architect in a firm or one certain construction building supervisor for one of your contracting companies. Regardless, it’s important to understand what other people you need to develop a relationship with there. If it’s an architectural firm, perhaps there are other staff architects or partners you could ask your contact to introduce you to. Or, if there are other construction building supers working for the construction company, trying to get to work with them on a project just expands your opportunities. Remember, your key contact could leave to pursue other ventures, get fired or retire. Predicting (or protecting yourself from) organizational change is paramount in keeping the account vital. Additionally, expanding your relationships across the departments in your key accounts’ business will ensure longevity.
  • Establish a strategic business partner status. If you can outline how you and your company can maximize your customer benefits, you’re on your way to working toward a strategic business partnership. These benefits must significantly outweigh what benefits your competition is providing. By utilizing the correct products and providing superior services, you can build the foundation needed for this partnership, which will benefit both parties involved. Your customers will reap the benefits from what you provide and you reap the benefits of ongoing sales revenue and profit potential. In certain industries, by developing this partnership and your business as the “go to company,” you can reduce or possibly eliminate the bidding process, maximizing your time and return on investment.