Accelerating decarbonization: Greenwashing or driving force of Key Account Management?

marie oesterschlink Published by Marie Oesterschlink – 17 May 2023

Decarbonization has become a major challenge for companies to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to the fight against climate change.

In France, Article 173 of the Energy Transition Law for Green Growth (published in the Official Journal on August 18, 2015) requires companies meeting certain characteristics to include in their annual management report the carbon emissions generated by their activity.

In 2015, 17 Sustainable Development Goals were voted on by the United Nations These Sustainable Development Goals provide a roadmap to a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to […] climate, environmental degradation, […].

It is important to achieve each of them, and each of their targets, by 2030.

The Key Account Management Club organized a virtual round table a few days ago to discuss the subject of decarbonization.

This event brought together members from various sectors -including Somfy & Essity as speakers- and participants such as Bouygues Immobilier, Adisseo, Saint Gobain- to discuss the challenges and opportunities related to decarbonization in the business world brought by KAMs.

In synthesis of the exchanges here is what struck me:

Decarbonization, a key development axis in the key account relationship.

The players are unanimous: in supplier-customer relations, one of the elements that impacts the signing of a deal (when applicable) is the notion of sustainable development, and in particular decarbonation. A collective awareness of ecological responsibility is clearly emerging.

Concrete projects and investment decisions are accelerating. More and more decision-makers have precise objectives and indicators in large accounts on these subjects.

Citizens, consumers and the general public, who are increasingly aware of the issues of sustainable development, climate change and decarbonization, are a powerful driving force for companies to act.

In everyday life, many measures taken in recent years by the government have paved the way: banning non-recyclable plastic bags, sorting waste, accelerating the recycling or reusable packaging, …

The companies that took part in this webinar said it: taking into consideration the notions of sustainable development in the company is a shared necessity. 

Sustainable development must eventually be applied transversally within the company, both internally and externally, throughout the entire production chain.

Helping its key accounts to achieve their own decarbonization objectives: eco-design, production, logistics, etc. through the solutions it sells them

We are not just selling our customers a “green” product, but a sustainable development value along the entire path. From sourcing to production, to delivery, and beyond the sales cycle and our direct relationship with them, it is a matter of accompanying our customers to better manage their own carbon footprint in their own processes. Establishing this support can raise awareness and push the customer to invest more in its own carbon footprint management.

In his speech, Essity explains that circularity has a real impact on the value proposition: either manufactured products are recyclable, or at the end of their life cycle and use by recycling the product. The company has one of the largest recycling centers in its sector and gains in terms of competitiveness as well as environmental impact with this principle of circularity.

Develop a sustainable value proposition, necessarily quantified, to avoid any “Green Washing

It is easy to say that we want to do more ecological, and that we want to implement sustainable actions, but it is also easy to fall into simplism on a subject that it is not … it is Green Washing.

Standards to respect, indicators to monitor, processes to implement…. Many technical parameters to be taken into account to bring a real & concrete ecological value to the company’s actions, because “sorting” and “stopping disposable cups” is not enough.

This entire chain of concrete actions allows the company to offer real value by being quantifiable and quantified. The promise of a significant and concrete measure of the company’s impact on its ecosystem.

To strongly reinforce the partnership dimension. à To become strategic for its key accounts.

  • The role of the Kam – SAM:

Train its key account sales teams on these concepts and initiatives to sell specific value: “sustainable value selling

Everything that is not said is not known! A major “Pain point” on the subject is the knowledge and transmission of information.

Sustainable development and decarbonation are still subjects that are not well understood by most sales people. It is necessary to raise awareness and transmit information to the sales functions, so that they have the tools in hand to inform and guide their customers.

The KAM must become a solid and reliable partner who accompanies his customer in his eco-responsible approach, and in fact know and master the offer proposed by his company on this subject. The training and support of the commercial functions are essential when one wishes to be part of this approach.

On this subject, Essity explains to us that it is now setting up specific training courses for KAMs to encourage them to adopt a sustainable approach in their account plans.

The KAM becomes a strategic partner capable of guiding and advising his client in a constructed, conscious and intelligent way in his own eco-responsible approach and thus takes a position of reference with his client, thus capable of accompanying him beyond his needs.

  • Internal-external impact:

The impact goes beyond the supplier-customer chain, as it spills over favorably into ethical aspects; notably the well-being of employees who are aware of working for a company committed to eco-responsibility and long-term prosperity: a business practice with a sustainable impact.

Working for a company engages and reinforces a sense of well-being. Knowing that you work for a company that deals with sustainability, ecology, G.A.S. emissions gives an extra meaning.

For its part, Somfy already ensures that its communication is 100% focused on the energy solutions of its offers. Its employees and specifically the KAM functions are trained and involved in this process.

Essity is recruiting Key Account Managers who will have to become real partner advisors for their customers.

This approach also pushes the customer to think about his own carbon impact and thus creates a real value on the approach which becomes logical and ecological.

The opportunities of decarbonization

Innovation: Decarbonization drives companies to innovate and develop new technologies and solutions to reduce their carbon footprint. This can lead to the creation of new markets and economic growth with sustainability

Reputation enhancement: Companies that engage in decarbonization and adopt sustainable practices are generally perceived more positively by their customers, partners and investors. This can strengthen their brand image and competitiveness in the marketplace.

Talent attraction and retention: Companies that are committed to decarbonization and sustainability are often more attractive to employees, especially to young talent who place increasing importance on these issues.


The virtual panel discussion addressed the challenges and opportunities of decarbonization around the KAM function. Participants shared their experiences and strategies to help companies reduce their carbon footprint and adapt to increasing sustainability requirements.

Decarbonization is a complex issue that requires coordinated efforts from companies, often from an industry and other stakeholders. However, the opportunities offered by decarbonization are considerable, both in terms of economic growth and value creation for companies and society as a whole.

As we move toward a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future, it is critical that we continue to share ideas and solutions to help businesses adapt and thrive in this new landscape.

For Halifax, we help our clients to better measure the carbon impact of their seminars and trainings and integrate it into their decision. Take the test and find out your training-related carbon impact HERE!

To find out more about our “Sustainable Value Selling” courses. Click here to learn more

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