The purpose of this paper is to explore a contributing factor – communication – within a team as well as with a client. Organizations that rely on key account teams for strategy implementation may find their “best laid plans” thwarted by communication problems associated with such teams.
This paper is based on depth interviews and content analysis. The authors analyze what team members and team leaders say and count positive/negative terms about communication within teams and with clients. These counts of such terms as a proportion of interview length are compared to the actual team success.
Negative comments about communication within the team focus on difficulty and positive comments focus on support. Interestingly, however, the best indicator of whether a team has succeeded in selling its key account is the extent of negative expressions about communication from key account managers. Presumably, the structure of key account teams gives them an extra leadership burden, and the authors’ see a relationship between their perception of communication shortcomings and success or failure.
The authors recommend investigating communication issues when strategy implementation depends on key account teams, but because this study is conducted using a qualitative method with one company, its results cannot be projected. The authors simply demonstrate what a company could learn from conducting its own study and comparing results to its sales success.
Little research has examined communication in key account teams or linked it to sales success.
The authors thank Dr Steven P. Brown for his valued input.
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