The mutual value

major account programme


Mutual Value is a strategy to consciously show up as an organisation in a way that develops trust and stronger relationships. It turns your values into value for all parties involved in commercial engagement.

Most business organisations make the majority of their profit from their key accounts. Our Major Account Programme is designed to help our clients win, retain and grow these accounts more successfully. It is based on the core concepts set out in Working With Mutual Value which translate into consultancy, training and ongoing coaching to support success. We can also work with clients on specific interventions, such as a major bid, client conflict or board level workshops.

The following modules are offered as individual interventions, but can be connected to develop a complete programme covering all of the organisation. They form the basis for our work; we design each intervention in a bespoke way with our clients to ensure it addresses their exact needs.


Gaining commitment – the value of change
Building a compelling narrative
How to build trusted relationships with your major accounts
Engaging the client in Mutual Value
Sustaining the change – realising the value

Gaining commitment –
the value of change

Problems we observe

  • Without a well-defined ambition sales training projects either fail, or get underfunded
  • Inconsistent performance across the sales team and high staff turnover
  • Failure to direct relationship development towards the highest potential clients
  • Short term numbers being the only critical measure

How they show up

  • Lack of commitment to sales training by sales force
  • No evidence of follow up or application
  • Programmes quickly falling by the wayside
  • Little change in behaviour

Financial Impact

  • Expensive sales training, without measurable impact on organisational performance
  • Repeating cycles of ‘investment’ into the latest sales methodology
  • ‘Failing’ sales people leave or are replaced by expensive new hires

Successful change is based on achieving buy-in all the way from leadership to the front line. To achieve this, we must be able to answer the question: “why are we doing this?”

Before starting a full programme of change, we can lead a diagnostic and design workshop in which the MV team will work with the commercial leadership to identify the following: exactly why the approach is required, which challenges it will meet, and the financial value of getting it right.

We believe strongly in quantifying the financial value to the firm of this change.

This number will include:

  • The financial return from greater opportunities and a more secure relationship
  • The value derived from risk reduction if key relationships are transformed through a more aligned and collaborative approach
  • Any other return which can be identified eg a higher win rate

If this value is sufficient we will proceed to tailor the programme to your organisation and its proposition. This ensures we are collectively directly addressing the key issues involved and making it completely relevant to the marketplace.

Building a compelling narrative

Problems we observe

  • Businesses try to be everything to everyone, and fail to differentiate themselves
  • Business development activities are unfocussed and lack repeatability
  • Employees don’t have a clear message that they engage with or can repeat during sales and/or delivery
  • Sales and delivery are working to different visions and agendas.
  • Leaders struggle to get limited resources focussed on highest priorities

How they show up

  • Bid win rates worse than 1 in 4 and often less than 1 in 10
  • Lack of reference clients relevant to new bids
  • Generic “why us” messages rather than focussed value-based story
  • Metrics and reports across sales and delivery have different focus
  • Resources on failing bids stretch the business.
  • Discounting – price being the only competitive lever.

The financial impact

  • Selling cost when considered across total bid production eats into or destroys margin on new business
  • Bid teams become discouraged and quality of work falls – reducing win rate further
  • Margin is lower than budgeted or bid
  • Growth targets missed at revenue and/or margin line.

How we help

Through a proven storybuilding process, we will develop with the leadership team and key account people the Mutual Value Narrative for the organisation. This will set out a clear story of the future:

  • identifying and clarifying the value to be co-created with clients
  • the behaviours and values which will be in evidence
  • the ambition of the organisation as a result of this process
  • and the engagement themes which will drive the way the firm will work with the other parties.

These may be clients, suppliers or commercial partners.

Together this represents a clear vision of the commercial proposition of this firm in relation to its key partners and sets out how it intends to engage with them to create much greater value. This approach can also be applied specifically to the firm’s values to connect these to the value it provides to the marketplace.

How to build trusted relationships with your major accounts

Problems we observe

  • The major drive is to win transactional business not build relationships
  • Over-dependence on winning new business (major account)
  • Low levels of repeat business and poor penetration of additional services
  • Relationships are narrow – focussed on current transactions
  • Lack of well qualified opportunities which match capability

How they show up

  • Pipeline management focusses on new opportunities
  • Measurement, reward and recognition drive new business more than repeat
  • Customer feedback is poor
  • Lack of opportunities which feel like a ‘natural’ fit
  • One off projects with Clients rather than long term sharing of capabilities and results.

Financial Impact

  • Discounts rise over time in response to growth targets
  • Growth targets missed
  • Employee engagement low and turnover high.
  • Wasted resources and poor partnering.

How we help

We typically run a 2-day workshop with the client-facing teams to help them look at the way they work with clients from a new perspective, consider and learn how to develop their communication and behaviours to reflect a Mutual Value philosophy and develop their own version of the Narrative for the work they do.

Within this workshop key ideas are explored, and important training takes place.

  • Aligning personal and professional values
  • Defining of the components of trust and how to make this central to the relationship
  • Understanding the Mutual Value Relationship Agreement and developing the skills to develop it with clients
  • Planning how to ensure this is lived through individual transactions
  • Developing new techniques and approaches to key conversations and meetings that ensure honest, open, high impact encounters with commercial partners
  • Feeling empowered and inspired to engage differently with key partners

We typically then run a 1-day follow up workshop with specific account teams to drill down into how this can be best applied to those clients or suppliers, with a practical, commercial discussion connected to what’s actually happening in that account. In this way those teams are fully equipped to engage in a new and exciting way.

Engaging the client in Mutual Value

Problems we observe

  • Sales training which does not turn into consistent practice
  • Inconsistent client experience – your people revert to previous behaviours under pressure
  • People lack courage to change or challenge an existing relationship
  • There is a failure to identify and expand best practice

How they show up

  • Client feedback highlights inconsistency of experience
  • Sales management time is focussed on ‘problem’ salespeople rather than coaching best practice
  • Stress between sales and delivery teams

Financial Impact

  • Sales promises fail to materialise leading to client dissatisfaction and loss of margin
  • Clients seek alternative suppliers whom they can trust
  • Clients don’t share contacts or new opportunities

How we help

This is where the rubber hits the road. We provide coaching and consulting to the teams as they engage with customers, suppliers or partners to co-create Mutual Value. This can be challenging as they are introducing a new approach – often to existing relationships – and suggesting this is defined and articulated as the foundation for future development.

We continue to support them through the process. This is done through regular group calls, the provision of tips and prompts and the facilitation of group discussion so that experiences can be shared and learnings discussed.

We can also work directly with team members as they engage in the Mutual Value process, facilitating client workshops and helping with storytelling, content creation or the drafting of Mutual Value Relationship Agreements

Sustaining the change – realising the value of Mutual Value

Problems we observe

  • Without a consistent process leadership can’t focus on coaching and mentoring best practice
  • Ambitious sales strategies fail to turn into high quality relationships
  • The business reverts to short term numbers focus in the absence of any change
  • Inconsistent application of new ideas leads to a confused strategy

How they show up

  • Growth pressure focusses back on the short term transaction
  • Failure to expand the number of major Client relationships
  • Increased commoditisation of products and services

Financial Impact

  • Lack of clear differentiation and increased commoditisation leads to margin pressure
  • Success rates stay low
  • The value of the training programme is not realised

How we help

Our commitment is to ensure that this process is successful. This means meeting the financial target we identify at the start of the project and bringing much greater levels of satisfaction to the key relationships involved.

Just as a wedding is not the marriage, the value in a commercial relationship is delivered on a day to day, month to month basis, not when the Mutual Value Relationship Agreement is concluded.

We therefore continue to support the team as they engage fully in these relationships. This is done through coaching, review sessions and support for the leadership as they develop the wider strategy of Mutual Value. We will provide ongoing facilitation of internal conversations about this process and provide tips and insights to the team.

We can also work directly with team as they engage with clients, acting as independent facilitators of strategy sessions, helping to develop the vision and providing ideas about building on the relationship as external advisers.

For further information get in touch now...




Let's have an open conversation about the value this can bring to your organisation. Contact to arrange a free video call with Stuart Maister or Kevin Vaughan-Smith.