A review of what academics say about KAM for KAM programme directors and academics

by Professors Bjorn Ivens and Catherine Pardo

Key account management is not a new concept: it can be traced back to the 1960s and 70s. There has been time for research to come up with some clear suggestions for managing KAM effectively, although some are still commonly overlooked in practice: for example, the need for cross functionality, the role of the key account manager as the leader of an internal team, a multifaceted approach to key account selection. This paper discusses critical managerial elements identified by researchers, even while it concludes that practice would benefit from further explorations into management in KAM.

Are your management practices aligned with researched knowledge of KAM?

If not, presumably you have a good reason - but does it stack up against properly analysed findings from other companies? Implementation of KAM is most challenging in this area of management in the organisation, where company culture and long-held personal beliefs may clash with more objective recommendations. The authors of this article point out that while we may not have certainty, on a number of management issues we do have strong indications of how to proceed. This paper can be used by KAM-pursuing companies to check out where they have the right approach and where they have baulked at an important change, or just failed to realise the requirement.

The authors would like to see a direct feedback loop from knowledgeable managers to researchers that would establish whether findings are ‘realistic, plausible and helpful in reshaping their practices’. Please contact Björn or Catherine if your company is prepared to be involved in KAM research.