Key Account Management - Some Common Concerns

In implementing a Key Account Management strategy it is essential to understand that a small number of managers are to be responsible for the development of the relationship between two companies.  In order to do this they must be free to build their management practice on the solid foundation of personal relationships.


A common criticism of the process of Key Account Management is that it involves the managers charged with its implementation in too much bureaucratic form filling.  This is particularly true of environments where Key Account Management is integrated with a CRM system.  In these circumstances managers may be responsible for completing data concerning all their activities and contact making that they undertake as part of the Key Account Management process and transfering it to the in-house IT system.


When driven from this perspective, Key Account Management is seen to constrain the executive.  Often she finds herself searching around a moral maze as she wonders if the contacts that she has made in her role are “hers” or whether they belong to the company?  (My understanding would be that once in the CRM system they belong to the firm in the format that the system stores them in).  A further concern is whether it is necessary to tell the clients’ representatives, who are after all stake holders in the Key Account Management process, that information is being stored on a data base?


Millman and Wilson (1995) give support for four main requirements for a Key Account Management process, which are to a great extent echoed by Pardo.  These are:

1)      responsibility for sales/profit growth of one or more key accounts

2)      co-ordination and tailoring the seller’s total offering to key accounts

3)      facilitating multi-level, multi-functional exchange processes with in Key Account Management

4)      promoting the Key Account Management concept in his/her own company.


Over the coming weeks I shall try to contribute a few tips on how to actually go about implanting a Key Account Management process and how to accommodate some of these very practical objections that are raised by Key Account Managers.


Useful References on Key Account Management

I have previously quoted these papers but provide them here for ease of reference:

Millman, T. and Wilson, K., 1995, From key account selling to key account management, Journal of Marketing Practice: Applied Marketing Science, 1 (1), pp 9-21    

Pardo, C., 1999, Key account management in the business-to-business field: A French overview, Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 14 (4), pp 276-290

Contact me: paul"at"paulsudnik"dot"com

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