Like many businesses, a large proportion of the work and referrals for professional firms is generated by relationships with existing clients and referrers. So it makes sense that there should be structured programmes within your firm to ensure that the most important relationships are nurtured and developed.
When approaching KAM for the first time, I suggest that firms break down their activity in this area into three elements:
- Client experience – maximising client care and all touch points with the firm
- Client relationship management – policies for day-to-day client relationship management
- Key account management – focused effort on the most important relationships
Firms should ensure that the first two elements – which usually involves client satisfaction surveys and firm-wide training programmes – are well established before they move onto KAM.
Whilst everyone acknowledges the importance of managing key clients and referrers there are numerous barriers to an effective programme. Some of these are cultural (some partners don’t like to share their clients, the reward system may focus on new clients and/or chargeable hours) and some of these relate to the systems – especially when it comes to information.
I have worked with many firms helping them to establish their KAM programmes and I deliver training programmes on a variety of related topics – both to fee-earners and to their marketing and business development people.
I summarise the approach as follows:
1. Agree the aims of your KAM programme and build a business case
2. Analyse the data relating to your key accounts so you can decide on the criteria
3. Develop a small pilot project and create a team
4. Communicate the programme aims and activities to a wide internal audience
5. Collect the necessary information about each client and confirm status as a key account
6. Deploy KAM team (including relationship partner/researcher/account manager) for each key client
- Undertake detailed research
- Identify ways to add value
- Assess client satisfaction
- Meet with client
- Identify client decision making process
- Explore clients challenges and future goals
- Prepare plan
- Create account objectives
- Develop/present client proposition
- Build short and medium term strategies
7. Analyse the results and implement action
8. Create the necessary policies, systems and training programmes to roll out
9. Manage, monitor and communicate
From my experience, one of the main problems is that firms try to do too much, too quickly without allocating the necessary resources and engaging the partners properly by setting out the business case.
There are many other FAQs and blogs relating to this topic so take some time exploring the related links below. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information.