Breaking Down the KAM Maturity Model: The Process

Process improvements have a way of falling off your to-do list when meetings fill up your calendar and quarterly deadlines are always just around the corner. But taking the time to evaluate your key account management team's processes and systems can pay dividends when it comes to beating your quarterly and annual goals. Key accounts require a personalized approach, with customized services, outputs, and plans. But all the customization comes at a cost that key accounts can't always justify. Gartner spells out the "high risk" part of the high risk-high reward world of KAM programs like this: "Companies that fail to effectively execute KAM programs routinely face spiraling customization costs, business unit resistance, and limited customer receptivity."

While you can't easily scale custom processes and one-on-one attention, you can standardize your KAM team's mindset through the KAM maturity model so the perspective, attention to customer experience, and focus on customer-centric wins are the same across your teams. In this article, we'll cover what the KAM maturity model is, how you can apply it to improve your KAM program, and how it can help you achieve your metrics more consistently.

What Is a Maturity Model?

Maturity models fill in the assessment gaps that quantitative assessments, like key performance indicators (KPIs), SMART goals, and other metrics, leave behind in your holistic view of your team or company's progress. Maturity models map out a progression of qualitative developments so you can compare your team's actions, mindset, or growth against the model and identify shortfalls, opportunities for substantive growth, and positive development.

There are maturity models for virtually every corporate team or organizational function, each of which focuses on the capabilities, perspective, or other qualitative attributes that make up the "ideal" representation of your group. Key account management teams are no exception, and organizations have been crafting the ideal KAM maturity model for years. In today's markets, these maturity models assess your team's commitment to providing client-centric services that focus on excellent client experiences and successes that in turn fuel your own organization's growth. In this maturity model, clients come first, and the most successful KAM teams act accordingly.

Explore the complete account manager's guide to the Key Account Management Maturity Model here.

Why a Process Is Important

Maturity models plot the course your team should be taking to advance and mature. But processes and workflow systems plot the course of how precisely your organization will do that. After all, key account managers can't flip a switch and become devoted to their clients' missions. Instead, they need the tools and resources to:

  • Start building relationships with clients that make your clients feel listened to and valued
  • Evaluate and research clients to identify their objectives, pain points, ideal use cases for your services, and future goals
  • Proactively check in on client progress and satisfaction to stay on top of problems, anticipate needs, and deepen the relationship
  • Manage their understanding of the client's org chart, key contacts, and internal decision-makers

Even more than that, they need the mindset and perspective so they understand the value in these actions when each one doesn't directly lead to a sale or an uptick in their metrics. By guiding each key account manager to see the value in proactively advocating for and supporting clients, your team as a whole will mature and begin to consistently provide excellent client experiences that lead to more sales, more referrals, and less churn.

To get started, you can establish workflows and procedures based on your team's current placement in the maturity model. Slow, consistent developments and breakthroughs will help your team advance from point to point along with the maturity model while truly internalizing the key concepts.

Breaking Down the KAM Process Maturity Model

This is the journey organizations take to successfully navigate through each stage of the KAM maturity model. Many organizations don't get past the first stage. Those that do can struggle to fully master each step before progressing to the next and so end up with a KAM team that half-heartedly adopts a client-centric approach.  See where your organization is on the maturity model pathway and where you should go next:

Level 1 Ad Hoc: Non-Existent

At this stage, you don't have established, consistent workflows and best practices. Individual KAMs have different ways of managing their accounts and strategizing about their clients. Team leaders have very little insight into what works (and why) and what doesn't. AMs are reactionary, and clients are largely dissatisfied. There is frequent churn or lack of activity.

To move to the next stage, AMs and leaders need to be committed to making a change.

Level 2 Awareness: Documented, But Not Always Followed Consistently

Now, there are workflow processes and expectations are documented. However, AMs consistently deviate from the best practices, don't fully complete account-specific steps or documentation, and the client-focused approach peters out after onboarding.

Reaching the next stage requires more investment in following through with the established infrastructure.

Level 3 Repeatable: Repeatable and Easy to Train New Team Members On

At this stage, AMs are following workflows, best practices, and proactive account management. This is extending the lifespan of accounts, but those accounts may not be growing. As you bring on new AMs, they are trained on the new practices and the team buy-in leads to easy adoption.

To reach the next level, AMs and leaders need to truly see the value in customer-centricity for out-competing other organizations in your market.

Level 4 Predictable: Adaptable to Changing Conditions and Circumstances

Because customers are now at the center of KAM activities, AMs can now adapt their scripts and activities to mold experiences and services to each client's unique needs. They can adapt to sudden changes in clients' goals and objectives, proactively prepare for pain points, and continue to deepen relationships with excellent services.

To reach the top of the maturity model, KAM teams will need to be willing to put clients in the middle of their activities, not just acknowledge the value of it.

Level 5 Activating: Processes Are Dynamic, Reviewed, and Improved Frequently, and There's Input Across the Client Journey

Now, KAMs aren't making exceptions to provide excellent client experiences. Dynamic processes are established and documented, interdepartmental communication is more fluid, and employees are focused on ensuring client success throughout their journeys rather than focusing on role-specific metrics.

See the full Key Account Management Maturity Model Matrix here to understand where you fall in the spectrum.

Bring Your KAM Team Up to Speed With Support From Kapta

Adapting your workflow and your team to the KAM maturity model is challenging, but putting in the work will help your team outperform the competition and hold onto clients long-term. Learn more about how our key account management software is built to support your journey through the stages of the KAM maturity model. Contact us today to schedule a demo.

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CEO at Kapta
Alex Raymond is the CEO of Kapta.