At the start of June I had the pleasure of leading PM Forum’s “Towards KAM (and ABM) – Helping fee-earners with client relationship management” online workshop. Delegates were from legal and accountancy firms in the UK, Channel Islands, Germany and United Arab Emirates. We covered a lot of material in modules on: Understand (context, aims and strategy), Plan (processes, data and systems) and Implement (activities, skills and motivation). Key Account Management (KAM) – Research companies, use KAM technology and maintain momentum.
Key Account Management (KAM) – Research companies
Larger firms may have access to research and knowledge specialists. Others may find that the M&BD team is responsible for research. One of the questions asked was what tools and systems are used by M&BD people to support research into sectors and client organisations. Here is a preliminary list but I’d be keen to know what sources you would add.
Boardroom Insiders – Database of 40,000 executive profiles Home Boardroom Insiders
Companies house – Financial accounts and directors of UK Companies Get information about a company – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Beauhurst – 35,000 of the fastest growing companies in the UK. Evaluate a company in minutes with information on its financials, transaction history and employees. Can also look at companies in a particular sector (e.g. heat map of 623 companies in adtech) and search by buzzword. Includes IPOs, acquisitions, grants, accelerators and news. Our Product | Beauhurst
Crunchbase – High growth startups and industry trends Find Next Investment – Crunchbase
DataGardener – All companies in the UK (from Companies House). 5 million companies, 60,000 companies added each month business intelligence and risk management platform with financial information, property ownership, credit information, contacts, international trade. Business Information and Database Provider UK | DataGardener
Dun & Bradstreet – 400 million businesses from around the globe. This data is used by Intapp (see below) and also Cirrom Marketing technology system review – Clean contact data with Cirrom (kimtasso.com) Main site Dun & Bradstreet – Accelerate Growth and Improve Business Performance (dnb.co.uk)
Edgar – Research public companies, mutual funds, EFT (Exchange-Traded Fund) or variable annuities from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission SEC.gov | Using EDGAR to Research Investments
Endole – 7m+ companies across the UK. See profile details for free but you can buy reports Company Search – Search 7m+ UK Companies For Free – Endole
FAME – UK and Ireland private company data – 11 million company, 2 million companies in a detailed format, 280,000 companies in a summary formt, 1.3 million companies that are active but not required to file accounts and 6 million companies that are no longer activie. (200,000 companies with turnover or shareholder funds over £1.5m or profits greater than £150000), active and inactive companies with up to 10 years’ of financial data. Used for building lists with over 300 search criteria.. Financial information, adverse filings, directors and managers, financial strength metrics such as credit scores and ratings and CCJs, shareholders, subsidiaries and branches, company structures and the corporate family, M&A activity and rumours, industry descriptions, SIC codes and research, news articles from various high profile sources. Fame for accountants and professional services firms “tool for general financial research, benchmarking analysis, screening acquisition targets for your clients, client onboarding, company secretarial services and business development”. Fame | UK & Ireland Company Data | Bureau van Dijk (bvdinfo.com)
GlobalData – Previously MarketLine. 800,000 global company profiles and 15,000 reports. Individual company profiles cost $295. Search by location, sector (22 and 120 sub-sectors and company attributes. Home – GlobalData
IbisWorld – Industry reports (which profile the major companies in the sector). Used by many accounting firms. Case studies on how law firms use the information to support attorney discussions with clients. Law firms users: Ogletree Deakins, Latham & Watkins, Clayton Utz, Baker McKenzie and K&L Gates. IBISWorld – Industry Market Research, Reports, & Statistics
Mintel – UK Sector and industry consumer reports from £1500 UK Archives | Mintel Store
Nexis – Licensed news and media information, company data, regulatory and legal information, and market & industry reports. 200 countries, 45 years of news archives, 45,000 resources. Helpful for competitor analysis. Nexis – LexisNexis UK Business Solutions
This post includes a list of research agencies and consultancies specialising in professional services Client satisfaction benchmarks – How do you measure up? (kimtasso.com)
The following offer general secondary B2B research guidance B2B Secondary Market Research Tools & Data Sources from Adience
Helpful market research tools are described here 19 Tools & Resources for Conducting Market Research (hubspot.com)
Use KAM technology
Similarly, there are always questions about which systems, tools and technology to use for KAM although it depends on the size and sophistication of a firm’s marketing information infrastructure.
One law firm delegate reported that her firm had started using this system. This article from January 2023 Strategic Account Management for Law Firms in the Age of Remote Working – Nexl answers the questions:
- What is strategic account management (SAM)?
- Why do law firms needs SAM?
- How should firms identify their strategic accounts? (profit, growth and core legal services)
- How can Nexl help law firms execute their Strategic Account initiatives? (no-data-entry CRM; relationship intelligence (ERM); revenue operations system; automatic capture of emails, meetings and referrals).
The system includes “who knows who” intelligence, stay-in-touch reminders and prospecting.
Another delegate mentioned he liked using this system. The OnePlace legal client relationship management system was acquired by InTapp in 2019. It stopped using the OnePlace name in February 2023. The recent acquisition of DealCloud for investment banking, private equity firms and professional services firms means this will now be the focus. I’ve always been impressed with Intapp Intapp leads the way with client lifecycle management (CLM) solution (kimtasso.com)
Intapp published this article on strategic Account Management (SAM) in May 2023 Strategic account management for law firms: How strategic account programs can support your top clients and position your client team as trusted advisors • Intapp
Intapp also published a case study of KAM at Baker McKenzie Baker McKenzie Gains Global Visibility Into Its Key-Client Relationships Case Study • Intapp
Other KAM tools and technologies
There was a helpful article by Inflexion earlier in June Enhancing your ABM strategy: The power of tools and technology – Inflexion (inflexiongroup.com) with some guiding principles of tools and technology. It mentions:
- Sophisticated integrated Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) like Adobe Experience Cloud and Salesforce Marketing Cloud
- PathFactory for content personalisation
- PostBeyond or Haiilo for social amplification and campaign management
- On24 and Social27 for providing live virtual experiences (Eventbrite to smooth invitation and registration process)
- Sprout Social helps you gain a comprehensive understanding of your audience’s conversations on social media.
- Sendoso and Reachdesk technology platforms to help provide offline care packages and gifts
- Smartology’s SmartMatch Saas platform for contextual advertising
- Third party data providers (see above) such as Demandbase, 6Sense and Terminus for overall campaign orchestration and analytics
- GoodData and Tableau to enhance account dashboards (Datorama for aggregation)
- Channel99 to benchmark digital marketing and optimise ROI
- JasperAI for on brand content across multiple platforms
There was a consensus that one of the biggest challenges was in maintaining momentum in a KAM programme. Especially as the poll results revealed that two of the biggest barriers to KAM were fee-earner time (50%) and fee-earner motivation (30%). We looked at research that it often took up to three attempts for successful implementation of KAM. There were a number of suggestions for assisting:
- Gain senior management buy-in – This requires a carefully costed business case and a realistic view of the likely results (which usually take some time to deliver)
- Be clear about roles – The role, responsibilities and accountability of key relationship partners and account managers must be clear. We also talked about having a core team to ensure strategy and action and a wider team with whom to share insights, work and results. The reward system needs to be aligned so effort and results are recognised.
- Start small – Pilot schemes allow dedicated resources to a handful of clients to learn best practice for education, planning and implementation. It can also generate competition for future inclusion in the programme. One delegate commented “We currently have four clients in our pilot programme”. My view is that most firms attempt to manage too many key accounts and would suggest no more than 5-6.
- Keep it simple – Learn from pilot schemes and exemplars so that processes are kept simple and pragmatic. Adopt a “tools not rules” approach
- Provide education, training and coaching – A range of education, learning and skills development programmes are required to support teams during the various phases of the programme
- Prepare a plan and templates – While fee-earners often know what to do at meetings during the initial stages, they often “run out of ideas” of what to discuss and do afterwards. Providing regular research updates about contacts, organisations and sectors can help identify topics for discussions and innovative ideas. Some firms provide templates of different types of KAM meeting types. And it will help if there is a plan of activities (briefings, webinars, entertainment, listening exercises, collaboration, workshops etc) for the next few quarters and years will help maintain the momentum. This may help: Managing key client meetings – Key Account Management (kimtasso.com)
Delegate key takeaways
At the end of the session, each delegate identified their key takeaways or action:
- Undertake an audit of what’s happened before – the strengths and weaknesses
- Set clear objectives to manage expectations
- Have a clear win:win strategy (for the firm and clients) from the outset
- Avoid a programme that’s too broad or has too many accounts
- Use data and evidence to set aims, maintain focus and measure results
- Build strong relationships with the fee-earners to understand their needs
- Produce a job description for client partners and account managers
- Assess suitability for members of each key account team
- Organise skills training for those managing key accounts
- Coach fee-earners on the benefits and approaches to KAM
- Engage those below partner (perhaps with gamification)
- Map out a programme of activities for key accounts for the next 12 months
- Understand the decision-making processes at each key account
- Produce different agendas and themes for key client meetings
Delegate Poll Results
Delegates find it helpful to benchmark their views against other each.
My KAM/relationship management experience (0=low, 10=expert):
Have you had formal sales training?
- 35% Yes
- 45% No
- 18% Sort of
Techniques mentioned included: SPIN, PACE, inhouse
Which is of most interest?
64% KAM/ABM processes for the firm
36% KAM/ABM processes for specific clients
Where do you see your main KAM role at present?
- Part of client team 33%
- Strategic input 17%
- Coaching fee-earners 0%
- Client listening 0%
- Research/developing plans 17%
- Process, systems and procedures 25%
- Administration and information 8%
Are there clear aims/goals for your KAM/ABM?
- 42% Yes
- 42% No
- 17% It’s complicated
Which goals do you have for your KAM (multiple choice)
- Cross-selling 83%
- Retention 75%
- Satisfaction 67%
- Revenue 58%
- Profit 58%
- Referrals 42%
- New products/services 25%
- Other 8%
- None 8%
To what extent do you think your fee-earner buy into the concept of KAM/ABM?
Do you record fee-earner time spent on KAM/ABM?
- 36% Yes- for time generally on M&BD
- 9% Yes – for time spent on KAM/ABM generally
- 36% Yes – for time on a specific client KAM/ABM
- 18% No
Do you have an agreed firm-wide process for KAM/ABM?
- 64% Yes – and it’s used
- 0% Yes – but it’s no used
- 36% No
Do you think your KAM/ABM is most focused on:
- 33% Protecting and retaining critical clients
- 33% Medium and long term relationship, revenue and profits
- 17% Cross-selling
- 8% Short term revenue and profits
- 8% Collaboration and co-creation of services with clients
Do you have a process for developing each KAM client?
- 43% Yes – but it differs for some teams, territories and clients
- 17% Yes – the same across the firm
- 17% No – each client team adopts their own approach
- 25% No – we are developing it at present
How good are your KAM information systems? (10=excellent)
One delegate said they were using Nexl and here is a case study from January 2023 Strategic Account Management for Law Firms in the Age of Remote Working – Nexl
Are there agreed criteria in your firm for a key account?
- 42% Yes it’s all agreed
- 33% Yes but it changes
- 25% No
How well do you understand the DMU and decision-making processes at your key clients? Selling Basics – Detectives and DMUs (Video) and recommended books (kimtasso.com)
Which of the following do you use to support implementation (multiple choice)
- 80% M&BD as part of the key client teams
- 70% Dedicated KAM/ABM meetings
- 60% Regular internal communications
- 50% Fee-earner skills training
- 50% KAM/ABM information systems and reporting
- 40% KAM/ABM part of fee-earner assessment and reward
Do you have a job description or terms of reference for your KAM or key account partners?
- 50% Yes
- 40% No
- 10% Sort of
How do you report KAM/ABM success? (multiple choice)
- 60% Teams present at departmental meetings
- 50% Regular updates to the Board
- 30% Dashboard for senior management
- 30% Intranet – automatic updates
- 30% Regular report for firm overall (by M&BD)
- 30% Regular reports for each key client (by M&BD)
- 30% Regular reports for each key client (by CRP)
Which do you see as the biggest challenge for KAM at your firm:
- 50% Fee-earner time/resources
- 30% Fee-earner motivation
- 10% Aims, strategy and plans
- 10% Fee-earner knowledge and skills
- 0% Leadership support
- 0% Lack of research/information
Key Account Management (KAM) programme (kimtasso.com) February 2016
KAM Basics – Bowties and Diamonds (kimtasso.com) October 2020
There was a helpful case study of Grant Thornton in March 2023 Grant Thornton – The power behind the client voice – PSM The Professionals (psm-theprofessionals.com)
And a case study of the initial cohort of 200 global clients CRM at Baker McKenzie at Intapp Baker McKenzie Gains Global Visibility Into Its Key-Client Relationships Case Study • Intapp
For PM Forum members
Manage clients for success by Darren Francis, Pepper BD/Account Managers Academy (PM Magazine, April 2022)
Why client account management (CAM)? by Laura Dawson (PM Magazine March 2021)
Making account management work by Francesca Ayers, Get Serious (PM Magazine April 2020)
KAM culture – ten years on by Elizabeth Corcoran, Eversheds Sutherland (PM Magazine April 2019)
Successful Large Account Management (Key Account Management) (kimtasso.com) Book review June 2015