In an increasingly competitive business environment, customers are becoming more demanding when selecting suppliers. Based on this there have been new models of customer relationship such as Key Account Management.
The change from a traditional customer management system to a Key Account Management system is no easy task. Simply acquiring the title of a Key Account Manager (KAM) does not mean that your company has changed its customer management system.
For a change of this nature, the first thing that need to be understood is that a KAM is not just a sales executive assigned to an account in order to sell large amounts. Before looking for options within our clients or within our sales team we have to ask whether or not our company is ready for a change of this magnitude?
The following are some questions and tips that we recommend you should consider before making any decision to take on this change:
1. Does your business have the internal capacity to provide what is necessary for a key account?
• It is important to realize that the sales department is not the only area that is involved in an account management system change.
• A KAM will need to be seen as completely reliable by the customer, fulfilling any promise of sale or service.
• What would happen to your star client if your own internal areas sabotage the flow of your business?
2. Does your sales team have the necessary people that can become Key Account Managers?
• A good salesperson is not necessarily the right person to become a key account manager.
• It is necessary to be aware that a KAM should have a strong level of contact and interaction within the client as well as possess significant influence within their own organization to streamline everything related to the client.
• Remember that the objective is to establish a long-term relationship with your client, so the right person does not necessarily have to be a part of the sales team.
3. What do you have to do in order for your key accounts to be differentiated from your other accounts?
• When you assign one of your clients as a Key Account, they will ask, “What does that mean for my company?” “Am I expected to do anything extra?” “What will change?”
• Think about and understand the answers to these questions internally before presenting them to the client.
• If we navigate the answers to these questions correctly, we will find that more clients will want to be one of our key accounts.
4. Have you considered how you will standardize your key account management system?
• It is important to maintain a clear view about what a key account is.
• Make sure the process is kept in sight and consistent with the strategy of the company without giving too much power to new position.
• You should also keep in mind that an organizational change of this level will involve a change in several areas such as compensation.
There are many benefits of a key account management system if it is implemented correctly. Once you have made the decision to change account management systems KAM’s should receive on-going, never-ending training. It is possible to improve their skills on the job, however, if we ask the questions we stated above (among others), before taking the first steps, we will have a higher chance to build an effective key account team as well as strong and long-lasting business relationships in the future.
If you found this article interesting, we invite you to participate in our Sales Academies in Action
Written by Xavier Fonseca, Senior Consultant – Overlap