At the most recent “Towards KAM – helping fee-earners with client relationship management” course at PM Forum I promised that I would provide information on the best books for further information on account management. There are three – rather different – books that might be of interest:

“Key account management” by Peter Cheverton

For those who are embarking on key account management from a major project perspective then this is a good introduction. Whilst most of the examples are from B2B industrial products and there is little about what people actually do on a day-to-day basis, it has good information and guidance on how to select your key accounts and the overall key account management process. I think, when I saw Peter speaking many years ago, that he introduced the bowtie to diamond concept. I like his three “golden rules”: 1. Work with a long term perspective 2. Seek out win-win solutions and 3. Recognise that trust is more important than money and his simple matrix that plots out different types of accounts and the approaches (hunting, farming and milk round).

“Managing key clients” by Kevin Walker, Paul Denvir and Cliff Ferguson

Most people will be familiar with the work of PACE partners and their other books and the advantage is that they are geared to the particular challenges in the professions. It starts with a diagnostic tool with 60 questions. Setting the scene is brief but there’s a meaty section on developing the relationship with solid stuff on managing expectations and client review meetings. Fee-earners will like the sections on marketing, selling and cross-selling to clients although some may be concerned at the relatively short term, inward focus here. The section on key client planning (and the Relationship Protection Index and the Relationship Analysis Model) is pragmatic. The information on supporting technology and issues for the firm is helpful too. And I like the AID (Action. Information. Discussion) model for team meetings.

“Key account management – learning from suppliers and customer perspective” by Malcolm McDonald and Beth Rogers

There’s more emphasis here on the context of strategic marketing planning and it’s a little more theoretical at the outset. However, the nine step key account planning section has numerous templates to inspire you. There’s also good information on the role and skills of the key account manager and organisational issues. There are frequent references to the work of Tony Millman whom I admire.

These are all relatively old books and none really gets to grips with the latest issues around really complex global account management, collaborative approaches to relationship management or the important role played by social media. So if you can recommend any books addressing these issues please let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

For those of you who haven’t found the Trusted Adviser assessment – it’s here

And thanks for the tip that one of the legal CRM software packages is soon to introduce a relationship visualisation tool although I’m still seeking the best tool for preparing relationship maps.