On 25th November I delivered an online seminar for Warwick Business School on Key Account Management (KAM), which is a very successful framework for building strong and lucrative relationships with key clients. There are three main principles of key account management that sales and marketing professionals in large companies, as well as entrepreneurs and the self-employed, should take into consideration when interacting with current or potential clients.
The first important principle of KAM to remember is that it moves the company away from a purely transactional approach to their client portfolio to a long-term partnership with clients. The KAM approach is designed to build trust and understanding between a supplier and their customer and this can’t be successfully achieved through a transactional (one off) approach to client relations.
The second core principle of KAM is the importance of company-wide networking within your client organisations. In a transactional approach to client relationships (if you can call a one off sale a relationship!), there are two main points of contact – one on behalf of a supplier and one on behalf of a client company. In a KAM approach, there are multiple point of contact between the two organisations and in order to build more effective and long-lasting relationships with clients, a supplier needs to get to know as many stakeholders in their client company as they can. This process is not easy, it takes a lot of perseverance and time (depending on the size of the client company) but the potential payoff is high and comes in the form of higher revenues from the client company over the long-term as more departments get engaged in the relationship with a supplier.
The third principle of KAM lies in the actual nature of the sale. In KAM, we tend to move away from selling to (and upgrading) clients solely based on product or service features. Here the aim is to sell ‘value’. I know ‘value’ is an over-used and often ambiguous term so in this context, I mean all the benefits a company’s product or service offers that match the needs of the client (often needs the client is not aware of!). During this process, it all comes down to the skills of the account manager and the frequency and quality of their communication with the client. I would suggest aiming to have at least weekly update calls/meetings with your client to keep abreast of all the latest developments within the organisation.
If you would like to know more or get advice and training on implementing and developing key account management within your company, don’t hesitate to get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org