48 WINNING EDGE
KEY ACCOUNT EXPERT
Winning Edge meets key account growth expert, JERMAINE EDWARDS
What is your current role?
I’m a speaker, coach and author specialising in
growing key accounts. I’ve founded and run my
own consultancy helping key account managers and
business-to-business professionals retain and grow
their high value customers. You can find out more
about me at www.jermaineedwards.com
How long have you been working in a
I’ve been in sales for more than 10 years. Before
founding my company, I was in key account
management and senior account management roles
for seven years. I didn’t so much find my current
role as graduate to it. If you could imagine a young,
hungry, rough around the edges, east London
charmer, that was me. The only thing was, I was
using skills I had crafted naturally, but without
consciously applying them to selling. When I saw
the powerful combination of these skills and
‘intentionality’ – targeting the skills on a deliberate
process and objective – represented by selling, well,
that’s when my success increased. I was given the
opportunity to look at much larger accounts based
on those selling skills and crafts I had worked on
– skills such as building rapport, creating trusted
environments and developing messages that echo
the story of the customer. I haven’t left it since and
I’m still learning.
What do you like about the role?
For me, it’s the problem solving. It’s looking at the
challenge and working out the ‘lightbulb moment’
that moves the sales professional or client from a
position of stress to one of success.
What do you like least?
By far, it’s the admin and waiting. In those moments
when I know it is not within my capacity to focus on
or enjoy something, I’ve learnt to automate,
delegate and ask for help quickly. There are always
certain things you have to do whether you enjoy
them or not, but there are also a lot you don’t.
What’s changing in your industry?
The biggest change is the shift to customer success
being not about a platform or technology but the
slow re-realisation that it’s about one-to-one
relationships. This highlights the importance of the
sales rep, their relationship to the customer, their
knowledge and the real time insight they give back
to their companies. Key account management,
among the many terms that it’s known by, is more
than a set of strategies, graphs and SWOT analyses.
The real success comes from the tactical day-to-day
implications of how we build trust, reduce risk to
purchase, make meaningful and influential
connections and create value that matters.
What are your biggest challenges?
The honest answer is myself and how fast I can
learn, implement and grow. The other answer is
doing what I love, but not losing sight of the goal,
which is building a company that will help change
the way key account management professionals
engage with their customers forever. There will
always be challenges, but I find the biggest are
always those that require you in the middle.
What skills do you think are most
important to your role?
There are three main skills that are important or
helpful to being successful in this role: patience,
persistence and passionate practice. You need the
patience to wait for success, the persistence to
pursue it despite inevitable challenges and setbacks,
and the passionate practice to strive to be better at
it. If you have those three things in mind, all the
other skillsets will follow, like building trust or
adapting your message to different audiences.
How do you benefit from the ISMM?
Well, for one thing, I’m a big fan of Winning Edge,
not least because I’ve been invited to contribute a
new series to the magazine. In the coming months
I’ll be exploring various aspects of key account
management and offering my fellow sales
professionals some practical advice on how to do it
more effectively. I’d like to encourage readers to
contact me with any particular issues they’d like me
to address. They can call me on 07884 070 968 or
email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
What do you do when not working?
I’m a father of four (you can guess what that’s like),
a keen movie-watcher, a basketball fanatic and a
long-time Arsenal supporter.
“Three main skills are important in this role:
patience, persistence and passionate practice”
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