The purpose of the paper is to identify the elements of professional key account management programs, to understand the success factors and to create an integrated framework.
The article is based on an analysis of the existing literature as well as on several qualitative research projects. Existing content from around 30 years of KAM research and practice was reviewed. A total of 18 companies were analyzed using case study methods and action research approaches. A total of 27 interviews with practitioners and 18 workshops were conducted to conceptualize the integrated KAM framework.
Key account management is more complex than the existing literature suggests and companies believe. A professional KAM framework addresses two different target groups: key account managers (and teams) and the company's management (or someone the responsibility of the entire program is delegated to). Both groups have to pay attention to five dimensions of KAM (named strategy, solution, people, management, screening) and several aspects that are different for each group.
A full overview about all the necessary elements of a professional KAM program can be used to assess a company's ways of working with strategic customers and to conceptualize or optimize an entire KAM program.
The presented framework is the first that integrates the different views of the two most important target groups of KAM. It offers a unique overview of all important elements.
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