We researched the greatest challenges that companies are facing today in key account management (KAM), and which will be the best practices over the next five years. The study was supported by our KAM Best Practice Research Club as one of the initiatives to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2016.

Key Facts

    • We conducted in-depth interviews with 15 managers or consultants who are actively involved in key account management (KAM).

    • KAM is about having a good understanding of all customer touch points and being forward thinking, to build a strategic partnership.

    • The key account manager must confidently engage with their customer’s senior executives and talk at every level in both organisations.

    • A big challenge for KAM is to overcome the silo mentality within functional units; motivation to collaborate is essential. It also needs to adapt to more digitisation in the procurement process, and fewer opportunities for face-to-face interaction.

  • Funded by Supported by investment / funding from Cranfield.

Impact of our research

The main findings generated some interesting debate among participants at the KAM Club’s 20th anniversary event in March 2016. We expect this research to have a real impact on KAM practice and a report is already available to more than 20 companies that are members of the KAM Club. The project offers insights to supplier companies in how to identify strategic customers, and how to manage these relationships through a co-creation process that will allow both parties to grow profitably.

Why the research was commissioned

The practice of key account management (KAM) has evolved to a great extent over the past few years, due to the strengthening of the procurement function on the customers’ side, the increased use of technology in business-to-business relationships, and the emergence of a more global approach to KAM and the use of virtual teams. In this scenario, KAM needs to be strategic and effective.

This research initiative intended to shed light on how KAM needs to evolve accordingly and arose naturally from the inputs received from club members regarding the problems in the practice of KAM. The club’s 20th anniversary was also a reason to develop this research as we felt it was the right time to look into the future of KAM, after many years of this discipline being developed.

Why Cranfield?

This research project is totally aligned with our expertise on this topic. We have an excellent reputation for leading the creation and dissemination of knowledge on key account management (KAM). The KAM Best Practice Research Club has been active for 20 years, with more than 20 companies from different industry sectors.