Key Account Management KAM

I was delighted to address the Professional Marketing Forum Scotland members last week in Edinburgh. The topic they choose was Key Account Management KAM in a nutshell – so I presented information on “text book” theories as well as lots of stories from my experiences on the “front line” of KAM strategy and development in a variety of professional service firms. There were legal, accountancy and property firms, newbies and experts in KAM as well as one or two partners.

We discussed three topics – the why, what and how of KAM:

Strategy – What is KAM and why is it important?

Delegate definitions of KAM varied but typically included crown jewel clients, deeper understanding of clients’ objectives, a process to capture and leverage client knowledge and a plan for developing the long term growth of key existing and target clients. I offered my “beginners” and “advanced” KAM definitions and indicated that most firms were still focused on the early stage view which is typically inwardly focused on short term sales and cross-selling opportunities.

In terms of the reasons, delegates mentioned that other firms were “wooing” their key clients, the desire to extend the web of relationships and the need to develop a long term plan.

This blog makes the business case Client Lifetime Value (CLT) analysis was also mentioned.

Planning – What are the elements of a KAM programme? What are the obstacles?

Delegates had a clear vision of the various elements of a strategic KAM programme including:

  • Clear objectives and firm-wide strategic plan
  • Stakeholder buy-in and cultural adaptation (including reward systems)
  • Information and research systems
  • Internal communication
  • Skills training programmes
  • Agreement of criteria and identification of key accounts
  • Client listening
  • Creation of teams and allocation of roles and responsibilities
  • Development of client plans
  • Implementation of client plans
  • Monitoring, measurement of results and reporting

Numerous challenges were discussed including: lack of vision, unrealistic expectations, poor internal communications, loss of momentum, inward focus, client protectionism and the lack of time. I offered a framework of cultural, strategic and marketing/BD issues that needed to be addressed in a systematic way. Buy-in and stakeholder management is addressed here: and

Implementation – How do we support fee-earners in their KAM roles?

Delegates offered various ideas including:

  • Facilitation
  • Organisation
  • Investigation
  • Integration
  • Listening
  • Coaching and promotion of best practice
  • Knowledge capture and sharing
  • Resource allocation

I focused on the lack of sales training and the need to support fee-earners during the various stages of the client life cycle – for example: Business development coaching was also touched on


At the end of the session, the delegates indicated that their main takeaways were as follows:

  • Objectives – For the short, medium and long term
  • Fundamentals – To focus on the needs of the client (so the approach may vary across the size, sector and structure of different key clients) even though marketing and BD staff are often at a distance from the clients
  • Planning – Adopting a phased approach supporting change management
  • Resourcing – Getting the right people on each client account and the role of marketing/BD in supporting them
  • Analysis – Client management with dinosaurs
  • Patience – Expectations management and a long term approach
  • Measurement – Aligning systems with the objectives
  • KISS – Keep it simple

A variety of resources for further learning were provided and most of these are shown in the blogs list below.

Dates for future training sessions through Professional Marketing Forum – including buy in and stakeholder management, Client Experience Management (CEM) and Key Account Management (KAM):