I recently read studies from Bath University HERE , IMP group and Cranfield University. There are some very helpful and thought provoking papers out there.
There is really no disagreement that KAM initiatives when positioned at the heart of a businesses strategy can have great positive impact on customer relationships, increased revenue and profitability.
I also believe Key Account Management is at an interesting impasse. The research continues to deepen but more questions around KAM implementation, its performance, rewards and impact seem to be arising.
I'd like to place another focus in the mix which I'm often surprised doesn't get much conversation. That is the Art of key account management. The visible but unseen colors that paint a much deeper picture. Much like the one in this blog.
There is a very noticeable fact that there are great differences in KAM results even across organisations with highly sophisticated KAM initiatives. Is it their product or service that makes the difference? their delivery capability? how well defined their strategic plans are written and communicated across the business? All those elements are important but the biggest factor is PEOPLE.
What about PEOPLE? I'm talking about the skill, mind, drive, teams, management and leadership which in my opinion is the number one driver for accelerated KAM success. WHY?
KAM more than any other customer engaging role is the skill of moving people, behaviour and actions towards a common goal of many agendas. That's not easy.
University of Bath's research found 80% of the 650 companies they surveyed offered some form of KAM training but only 45% of companies provide KAM training which differs substantially from training given to sales or marketing employees.
After working with over 100 key account managers across 5 different industries in the last 5 months. There were clear common challenges. Ones many organisations will recognise such as clarity of key accounts, internal strategic alignment and general KAM practice.
Above all this it was very evident that the skill sets needed for KAM weren't been developed. Worse know one could really pinpoint what those specific skills or competencies were. They were just generic sales answers.
The impact of this is clear. In the University of Bath's research they found 60% of companies reported they did not see any positive effect on performance through basic KAM training. The opposite was true for companies who gave more specific specialist KAM training they saw a direct impact on sales, profitability and share of wallet.
Its interesting to see despite great research papers out there that if looked at carefully more than 50% of the contributing factors to KAM success reply on the behaviour, skill and execution and delivery of people in that organisation.
What is the Art that makes the difference? Regardless of where you are in your KAM career. Here are nine noticeable KAM qualities that every serious KAM and organisation must look to develop. Ones that make up the Art.
- How to lead yourself, others and inspire others to act
- How to effectively manage the needs of others internally and externally
- How to manage the personal and professional agendas of stakeholders confidently
- How to apply different levels of thinking to achieve different outcomes
- How to distill highy complex information and make great decisions
- How to communicate influentially and persuasively at all levels of business
- How to understand and create customer led value that is current and future focused
- How to amplify trust and deepen relationships faster
- How to reduce risk to future purchase
Want to know how you can start on that journey of learning the Art of Key Account Management. Get free access to learning that will help you move into greater success in KAM? check out the KAM Mastery Webinar series. A program worth over $900 at www.jermaineedwards.com/kamwebinars
Founder of the Key Account Hack System - New Key Account thinking that transforms relationships and creates predictable sales growth.