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I asked a few questions:. How do you behave differently with those 72 customers compared to all the others?

Key account management : tools and techniques for achieving profitable key supplier status

How do those 72 customers see their own business enhanced as a result of this label? I might have asked further, or with different emphasis:. How does it help you to manage the relationship between the two businesses — supplier and customer? How does it help you to manage the future? How does it help you to balance sales objectives with resources and with the opportunity? How does it help you to identify activities that would give competitive advantage? How does it help you to secure key supplier status?

KAM is, in short, a means to achieving your objectives — not an objective or an end in itself.

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There is too much effort involved in establishing and maintaining a KAM strategy for there to have been no better purpose than being able to say that you did it. We have seen already that there is plenty more that KAM might do for your business. Retention of customers in a competitive environment — Building barriers to entry. Growth through entry into new customers — Overcoming barriers to entry. Growth with existing customers — Finding new opportunities. Managing customers with a cross territory perspective — Global Account Management.

Managing customers serviced by a multi business unit supplier — Uniform Service. Going beyond product and benefit selling — Selling Solutions. Remember, from Chapter 2, that KAM is a means of managing the future, and that requires a balance of Objectives, Resources, and Opportunity. We should consider these objectives then in the light of those other two elements. Building barriers to entry — Do you have a Sustainable Competitive Advantage? Can you secure Key Supplier Status?

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With which customers? Overcoming barriers to entry — Do you have a unique value proposition? Which customers would consider it? Are your competitors failing anywhere? Finding new opportunities — Are you at full capacity with this customer? Are they creating new needs? Global Account Management — Do such customers exist?

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Do they want global service? Uniform Service — You might crave uniformity, but do the customers? Which ones? Selling Solutions — Do you understand their challenges?


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Can you help them, and be rewarded? Do you have the right Resources, and deployed in the right way, to achieve these objectives? Building barriers to entry - Do you have the right team? Is it deployed correctly? Overcoming barriers to entry — Is the team sufficient to seize the opportunity, and is it deployed correctly?

This is not just a matter of size of the team, the approach is of far greater importance Finding new opportunities — Is your team still looking, or have you grown complacent? Do you penetrate their snails?

Training Video - Key Account Management - Winning New Customers

Global Account Management — Is your business globally orientated — physically, or psychologically? Will teams work to such objectives? Uniform Service — Will different units collaborate? Selling Solutions — Can the business cope with the diversity of solutions?

Key account management : tools and techniques for achieving profitable key supplier status

Are all functions organised to be responsive? The following table summarizes only these thoughts, against these six objectives. A similar table should be completed for your own circumstances. Do you have a Sustainable Competitive Advantage? Do you have a unique value proposition? Is your business globally orientated — physically, or psychologically?

Do you understand their challenges?

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Can the business cope Can you help them, and be with the diversity of rewarded? Are all functions organized to be responsive? However far you intend to take KAM in your business, the following implications will almost certainly have occurred to you by now:. Everything we have said so far would tend to suggest that it is a relatively small number — if you are to prioritize your resource on these customers, if you are to behave differently, if you are to allow their needs to drive your business processes, etc.

Part IV will look in detail at the question of identifying your key accounts, looking at the link between market segmentation and KAM and providing a process for making your selections.

Leaving it till Part IV may appear rather late in the day, but it is important to understand what KAM actually involves before making these decisions. This is really the heart of KAM in practice and Parts III and V will look at this in some detail — asking who is in your team, how should they be used and what help will they require? How will KAM impact on the running of the business?

Depending on how far you wish to take it, KAM might be anything from a sales initiative rarely successful! Chapter 14 will look at some of the obstacles that stand in the way of implementing KAM in your business and will help you to conclude on a key question: just how far do you wish KAM to change the way you operate? How will you know that you are doing anything different from before? If we summarize some of the varied purposes of KAM, we might be able to draw some simple conclusions. Nor is it an internal process about selecting, labelling and pigeonholing customers.

So what is it? There are several possible purposes and objectives of KAM, which are to :. We have one client who uses KAM for a very singular purpose. Their business relies on continual technical innovation, which is expensive and often the benefits are short lived. If they are not careful, these two factors can act as internal brakes — the choice to do nothing can be strangely tempting, with disastrous results in the longer term.

They have chosen to identify key accounts as those customers that will not only force them to innovate, but will support them in their efforts. In practice this usually means customers who will promise to take their innovations on board, before they are actually begun! It is always a good idea to innovate alongside customers, but this approach has an added benefit, the customer can be used as a kind of battering ram to break down internal inertia and complacency.

The following elements of KAM practice continually appear in the most successful applications. Relationships with the customer go further than the purchasing department. Multiple contacts are maintained by a key account team composed of commercially aware functional experts. The key account manager is of sufficient stature and perhaps seniority to win credibility with the team and with the customer.

The supplier regards KAM as a cross-business process, not just a sales initiative, and this is supported from the top. The supplier is prepared to invest in KAM and measures performance over the long term. Only as many key accounts are selected as the business can manage. There must be a balance between objectives, opportunities and resources see Chapter 2. And the conclusions? In all likelihood there will be two features of KAM that stand out above all others — we might even call these the defining features:.

The first of these two features is the subject of the next chapter. We will return to the second in Part IV. All in all this will be quite a journey.