About the Client

Our client is a leading automotive interiors supplier offering instrument panels, consoles, door systems, headliners and overhead systems, etc. Their unique design, engineering, manufacturing, and delivery methods have built them a diverse customer base of over 80 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) across the world. Their components and interior systems are found on over 300 vehicle platforms and include both entry-level and luxury vehicles, as well as all vehicle types and sizes of passenger cars and trucks, and commercial vehicles.

Globally, they’re visible in 20 countries at approximately 70 locations. With more than 19 technical, design and commercial centres and 50 manufacturing facilities, they employ more than 22,000 people globally.

Challenges Faced

Having a large customer base, generating sales wasn’t our clients concern. However, they realised that they weren’t getting the most out of their Key Accounts. An effort to get maximum revenue from existing clients was missing.

Our client realised that Key accounts weren’t just their most valued clientele, but were also the accounts that were most likely to be targeted by their competitors. Therefore, they wanted to enhance the skills of their Key Accounts Manager’s and help them in developing and managing the key accounts. Not only did they want to retain their important clients but also wanted to maintain their organisation’s long term viability.

Their concerns included:

  • Retention of Key Clients
  • Stagnant Sales
  • Mediocre Margins
  • Fading Customer Loyalty

Client’s Objective

In our discussion with the client we shed light on the 80/20 rule which tells us that as much as 80% of a company’s revenue can come from as little as 20% of its clients. For this purpose, one of the major responsibilities of a sales manager is to strategize with their salespeople in regard to their key accounts.

Therefore, the client’s objective was to find a solution to develop, penetrate and maintain their key accounts. They were keen on focusing on the role of the account managers in planning and strategizing to develop new accounts, while also maintaining and maximizing the existing ones.

Our Solution

Stage 1 – Field Validation:
Facilitators and support function team members from Challenging Horizons visited the client’s Key Customers along with company’s Sales Managers to get firsthand information and understand the buying and selling behaviors in the market and gap within the sales team for executing it. What we picked up during the field study was that the Key Account Manager was a single point of contact between the two organisations, making the structure very fragile. We also discovered that the Key account manager was penetrating into the organization only at the purchase level.

Stage 2 – Content Customization:
After the field validation, customized case studies, participant guides, case lets and business scenarios closer to the business were created. There are many models for KAM, wherein, based on our study and the needs of the client, we redesigned as to how the Key Account Manager should position himself. This led to the entire content being customized to suit the new model.

Stage 3 – Mapping of Input Behaviors to KPI:
The required input behaviors to get the desired outcome were mapped with the respective KPI. KPIs of Key Account managers included sales outcomes and other quantifiables. However, the specific behavior(s) that lead to these outcomes were not studied by the organization. Our study showed that behaviours related to competencies of business acumen, detail orientation, people orientation needed to be developed.

Stage 4 – Creation of Review Documents & Templates:
After the mapping for the required input behaviors was done, various templates were created to monitor the progress for driving those input behaviors post-training. These templates would also be the base for the review session. Training is as strong as its follow up. Therefore, it was imperative that the classroom training be monitored and reviewed. Howeverthe review and monitoring could not be left to the skill level of the reporting manager. Therefore, specific review and monitoring templates were designed. These templates emphasise the recording of behaviours that lead to wins rather than just the output.

Stage 5 – Sales skills Index Assessment :
Sales Skills Index presented questions that portrayed “real life” sales situations. Each situation had four alternative ways to be handled. Respondents were given the opportunity to rank the four alternatives from “best” to “worst.” By comparing their response with those of proven top sales professionals, a report was generated showing strengths, weaknesses and how well they understood sales strategies.

Stage 6 Training Session on KAM (Key Account Manager):
A three-day in-depth training session on KAM was conducted. Which gave the sales team applied conceptual knowledge on managing Key accounts. The classroom sessions were highly interactive with debates, discussions, role plays as well as reinforcements through movies. The session worked on a real life case study that unveiled itself progressively. The negotiation element of Key account management was moved out of price bargaining to value selling, thereby overcoming many objections.

Stage 7 Training Session for Immediate Manager to the Sales Team:
A one-day session on effective coaching & mentoring was conducted. This also assisted in driving the input behaviors during the review sessions. In the long run, the review and monitoring has to be done by the organization itself. Keeping that in mind, the sit-throughs in the review sessions to standardize the process. This in turn led to a consistency in review, which in turn improves the consistency in Sales performance. Stages 7 and 8 went hand in hand, where once the manager was trained on HOW to conduct a proper review, we sat through his first few reviews. We were able to give proper feedback to the manager, which in turn improved the effectiveness of the KAM.

Stage 8 Conducting Review Session:
Challenging Horizons’ facilitators conducted the review session along with the respective mangers on a one-to-one basis as well as on a one-to-many basis to demonstrate how managers need to conduct the review session to drive the input behaviors for respective sales teams handling the key accounts.

Stage 9 Handholding and Observation of the Review Sessions Conducted by Managers:
Challenging Horizons’ facilitators observed the review session conducted by the managers. And supported them to drive the input behaviors in their team. We believe that input is more important than output and as such, there was a distinct effort to convert the inputs rather than manage the results.

Stage 10 Weekly Coaching Sessions for Managers to Drive Input Behaviors:
Challenging Horizons’ facilitators conducted a coaching session for managers to assist them in driving the review sessions and monitoring the progress.

Stage 11 Consolidating the Review Documents & Presentation:
The sales team presented the progress of the shift in the input behaviors and mapped them with the desired output.


Our client was thrilled to see the results of the KAM training program:

  • Increase in the number of RFQs received over a period of a year
  • Increase in client level penetration, going up to the MD in some cases
  • Participation in RFQ design before the RFQ was floated amongst vendors
  • Increase in morale of the KAM
  • Increase in morale of the KAM

We at Challenging Horizon’s travel the extra mile to not only understand the client’s requirement but also the market in which they function. By an in-depth understanding of their client’s, we create our own training strategies and therefore guarantee complete success of the program. If you’re currently facing any challenges in your organization or are just looking at turbo-charging your team, contact us and we can customize a program based on your needs.