The KAM process involves selecting key accounts, developing a strategy, creating key account managers, managing the relationships, and measuring results.
- To setup a key account program, follow these steps. First, you need to decide which accounts are key. Now, it may seem obvious that you'll select only your largest accounts, but as you'll see later, that's not necessarily true. Instead, you'll develop a set of rigorous criteria that an account must meet to be considered key. Size of the account may not be as important as other criteria. Once you've selected your key accounts, it's time to create a vision, mission, and strategic focus for your key account management program.
Now, it may seem odd to develop your strategy only after selecting key accounts. Now, wouldn't it make more sense to develop a strategy first, then select accounts that can help you achieve that strategy? Well, there's some truth to that. I like the other way around, though, better, and here's why. I prefer to know the size and depth of my key account program ahead of time. How many accounts do I have to manage? And what is the depth of my opportunity and risk in those accounts? Now, armed with that information, I'm in a much better position to craft a coherent strategy to achieve success.
Next, you need to align your organization and gain commitment to the key account management program. Your program will fail unless you have the full support from many departments inside your company, and perhaps even outside your company. You have to communicate what you're trying to accomplish in key accounts and get others to do their part within the context of your corporate culture. Now, if you try to manage key accounts outside the corporate culture, you'll run into trouble.
With a strategy in place and a list of key accounts, it's time to get to work. You start by hiring and training competent key account managers. Now, here's a tip, key account managers are not glorified super-sales reps. That could be a big mistake because managing key accounts is not just selling more products to them. With your team in place, it's time to create a plan for each account that will accomplish the goals you created earlier.
How often will you call on each account? What will your manager do during those calls? And what partners are needed to help succeed? Finally, a good key account manager takes the time to measure results. This should be done on an ongoing basis, not just at the end of the year, and many times, it should be done jointly with the key accounts. Now, let me warn you, this can be painful because part of the process here is to reevaluate whether a key account should continue to earn this status.
It may be time to drop certain accounts from the list and add new ones. Good key account management is much more than spending lots of time with big accounts, it's a methodical, systematic process that will help your company achieve great success in the marketplace.
- Understanding key account management
- Understanding the key account management process
- Developing criteria for key account status
- Selecting key accounts
- Defining a vision, mission, and strategic focus
- Identifying the key account management task
- Communicating your strategy
- Hiring, training, and rewarding key account managers
- Developing a call plan for key accounts
- Measuring key account results