Key Account Management (KAM) was originally developed in the industrial goods sector and is now used across all industries and in almost all large companies.
Within the context of KAM, employees focus on the interests of one of the most important customers (key accounts) of a company. The task of these key account managers is to develop special strategies for processing these customers across regions and product ranges. The main differentiating factor of a key account manager compared with an account manager is the medium-term planning and ensuring of future incoming orders. KAM can essentially be characterized by answering four core questions.
- For which customers should a KAM be set up? The customer portfolio can provide starting points for identifying these customers. If, for example, a customer is particularly important to the company because of his current turnover (economic significance) or because of his cross-selling potential (economic potential), the key account status and the associated “preferential treatment” may well be appropriate.
- What should be done for key accounts? In principle, a company can design any market development activity specifically for key accounts. Logistical or product-related activities can be mentioned as an example. Logistical activities aim at optimizing the entire process from production to ordering of goods and delivery together with the key account. Product-related activities primarily include the adaptation of products to customer requirements in terms of design, packaging or application technology. The joint development of new products also constitutes a central field of activity.
- How should the planned measures be implemented? In addition to the interaction with the key account, the tasks of key account management also include the dissemination of customer-related information within the company, the training of employees with regard to the customer and the integration of other departments (e.g. logistics or the IT department) into the project work.
- Who should take care of the key account? Key accounts are not served decentral by the “normal” field service, but centrally by key account managers, who coordinate all activities towards the customer and are equipped with the corresponding competencies. Generally, key account managers are employees with sound professional experience in sales and are characterized by a high level of expertise and personal skills as well as confidence in dealing with managers. Successful key account managers have experience in various functional areas and possess above-average analytical and strategic thinking skills. In many smaller companies, KAM is even undertaken by the top management.