#038: 5 Key Account Growth Strategies

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Read time: 5 minutes

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There’s only 1 week left to sign up for the Welcome to Sales: Accelerator program starting on June 3rd.

This will be a great opportunity to build your foundational sales skills and plug yourself into a network of other life science sales professionals. If for whatever reason, the program isn’t for you, we’ll refund the cost of the program.

If you’re still unsure if it’s right for you, reach out to me directly (reply here or DM me on LinkedIn) and I’ll be happy to answer any questions or even jump on a call to discuss.

Time is our most precious asset.

This is true in life and especially in sales.

Where we decide to spend our time can be the difference between hitting or missing our target.

If we follow the Pareto principle, 80% of your revenue is going to come from the top 20% of your accounts.

This means not every account should be treated equally. They don’t all deserve the same amount of our time and energy.

Here are 5 strategies for identifying and growing your key accounts.

1: Score and rank all your accounts

The first step to any account strategy is to score and rank all the accounts in your territory.

What are the characteristics that make up an ideal customer? Look at what your top accounts are spending and see what they have in common.

Then create a spreadsheet where each row is an account in your territory and each column is a criteria to score and rank them.

Here are some examples of how you can score your accounts

  • Current revenue

  • Potential revenue

  • Number of employees

  • Funding amount

  • Application areas

  • Modalities

  • R&D spend

  • Programs in the clinic

  • Recent mergers and acquisitions

  • And a whole lot more…

Fill in your scores for each criterion and then sum them all up.

Sort by the highest scores to determine which accounts in your territory have the most potential.

Now you have a good starting point on where you should focus your effort.

2: Prioritize growable accounts

A common mistake reps make is they spend time with their highest spending accounts. These accounts love you and it’s so easy to work with them. But there isn’t much room for growth. These accounts are mostly in maintenance mode. If we’re prioritizing growth, our effort needs to be focused elsewhere.

Our quotas aren’t going down any time soon so we need to spend our energy on the accounts that have the greatest growth potential.

I classify the growth potential as the (Potential Account Revenue - Current Revenue). This will give you an idea of which accounts have the greatest growth potential.

Focus on building relationships and growing those accounts to where they can be moved into maintenance mode.

3: Pick the right growth strategy

Different accounts require different growth strategies. You can’t apply the same strategy across every account.

If you have no points of contact in an account, your strategy should be to get a first meeting.

If you already have a contact, your strategy might be to leverage referrals or get connected to other people.

Here are a few strategies you can use when trying to grow your key accounts.

  • Get our first meeting

  • Expand horizontally (get intros to new departments)

  • Expand vertically (get access to higher-level contacts)

  • Increase repeat orders with the same contacts

  • Cross-sell new products to our same contacts

  • Get MSA with legal and procurement

  • Become the vendor of choice

  • Save the account from a bad experience

  • Rebuild the account that has stopped spending with you

Each of these strategies require a different set of tactics to make them successful.

Pick 1-3 strategies that you will deploy at each of your key accounts. Then execute them.

4: Document your plan

Two of the biggest reasons key account strategies fail is 1) they aren’t documented and 2) they are too complex.

Keep your plan simple but make sure it’s documented.

Write down each strategy and the most important 1-2 actions you will take each week.

By documenting the plan you can get feedback from managers or peers who may have other ideas to share.

Once it’s written, execute your plan and document the results so you can update your strategy accordingly.

5: Create a most wanted list

This industry is so small. If there is someone you want to get in touch with, chances are you are 1-3 connections away from them.

Meaning someone you know can introduce you directly or they know someone who can introduce you.

Too often we don’t ask for referrals or check who our connections are connected to.

So one of the first exercises you should do is create a “Most Wanted” list.

This is a list of contacts at your key accounts that you must get a meeting with. If you do, it could be a game changer for how you would grow in that account.

Keep this list to 20 names so it’s manageable.

Do everything in your power to find connections and connections of connections who can get you a warm introduction to that contact.

Look at people in your lab, on your exec team, your investors, people you used to work with, and even customers you used to sell to.

This is one of the highest-leverage activities you can focus on.


  1. Score and rank your top accounts

  2. Prioritize the account with the most growth potential

  3. Pick the right growth strategy based on your assessment of the account

  4. Document and share your plan with your manager and peers

  5. Create your most wanted list and use your connections to get warm introductions

The Festival of Genomics and Biodata London (FOG London), is the biggest life science event in the UK, bringing together nearly 6000 researchers and executives from pharma, healthcare and academia. FOG Boston is coming to the Boston Convention Center next month 12-13 June and the team have kindly given us 10% off tickets! Thinking of heading down? Use ticket code SALESDNA10 at checkout and let them know who sent you... 😎

Episode 10: [Leadership] Growing a startup as a sales leader with Chris Dingman

  • Challenges of hiring the right people

  • What you need to set up to start a diagnostics company

  • Using referrals to grow your account base

  • Should you get into leadership?

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