How to Succeed at Key Account Management
Key account management (KAM) is one of the most important changes in selling that has emerged during the past two decades. KAM is a radically different organizational process used by business-to-business suppliers to manage their relationships with strategically-important customers, and it produces measurable business benefits.
Not surprisingly, smart suppliers are keen to implement KAM. But, sadly, many KAM implementations fail and are abandoned. In other cases, suppliers find that they have to make big changes to the KAM programs to get them to function.
The good news is that many of these failures are unnecessary. KAM is a major change, but the ...view middle of the document...
Members of the main board of Siemens, including the CEO, each sponsor a number of key accounts and visit them regularly.
Step Three: Appoint a KAM champion. Once the organization has accepted that it is embarking on a major change, and senior managers understand what KAM is and have bought in to it, the next step is to find someone who is going to champion the KAM program and drive the implementation. Usually, this will be someone high up the organization, and it helps if they report directly to the top management, at least for the duration of the project. That way, KAM gets onto the top team agenda and the champion gets the support they need to make changes. Your KAM champion should be passionate about KAM and needs to have good influencing skills and great energy levels. Tetrapak has two KAM champions who travel the world to 'sell' the message about KAM within the company.
Step Four: Identify your key accounts — carefully. To get the KAM program started, you need to identify some key accounts, and you need to develop an offer that differentiates them from the rest of the customer base. Good advice here is to start small. It is easier to add customers to your KAM program than it is to 'demote' customers once you have told them they are key accounts. Generally, the number of key accounts should be small. Our rule of thumb is somewhere between 5 and 25 key accounts. Even major corporations like Xerox keep the number of true key accounts below 100, and they have far greater resources than most and have been practicing KAM for years. Be clear about what defines a key account and stick to that. Don't give in to pressure to add certain customers to your key account program just because they have been customers a long while, or they are golfing buddies with the CEO.
Step Five: Appoint and train your key account managers. Many organizations make the mistake of simply moving their best sales people into key account manager roles. That's a mistake, because KAM is about changing the way people work — it is not just a sales technique. Converting your best sales people into key account managers might mean you've put a bunch of people into a role they are not really comfortable with, and you have just lost your best sales people as a result. In fact, there are technical...