Some suppliers claim that their customers don't want key account management. But is that right? Certainly, KAM is not an approach for all customers, so even if some don't want it, that doesn't negate the argument for offering it to those that do and will repay the effort.

Customers may not ask for KAM by name, but are they sending out signals that strongly suggest they should receive that kind of treatment? If your company is saying it doesn't need/want to implement KAM, check out these questions to see whether that is appropriate or not.


Are your customers ready for KAM?  Try this litmus test.


Are your most important customers …
1. Communicating opportunities and initiatives and involving the supplier in their strategies? Yes/No
2. Expecting an understanding of their business: inviting the supplier to meet a wider range of people in their organization and giving a broad range of information about their business and marketplace? Yes/No
3. Wanting to explore joint projects involving more commitment? Yes/No
4. Wanting to talk longer term and develop strategies together? Yes/No
5. Asking for a more senior account manager with more authority and/or competence? Yes/No
6. Wanting a transparent or integrated approach and a single point of contact, dealing with them as a single entity? Yes/No


If you answered ‘yes’ to 2 or more of these questions for 2 or more of your top 10 customers, you need to be thinking about offering KAM, just to retain the business you already have. If you leave things as they are, key customers looking for a different approach may defect to a supplier who treats them the way they want.


Diana Woodburn, 2017