Your CRM is Not Enough: Why Companies are Using Dedicated KAM Software to Build Customer Engagement

In our line of work, we talk to all kinds of people, from all kinds of companies, all day long. And we see the same thing over and over again: Most companies are not as customer-centric as they think they are. We know because there are a few tell-tale signs:

  1. We ask about their account management approach, and they talk about sales or new business
  2. We ask about their customer’s goals, and they don’t know—or they tell us about their own goals instead
  3. We ask about account health, and they talk about pipeline

In short, most companies think they are customer-centric because they have customers and they don’t want to lose them. But they haven’t operationalized a business model that actually puts their customers first.

Meantime, the tools they’re using—particularly their CRM—reinforce existing behavioral norms. In contrast, dedicated KAM software prompts and reinforces behaviors that build strategic relationships with customers, helping you deliver on their growth goals. When you do, you achieve Trusted Advisor status, and your own growth follows.

Let’s take a closer look at why CRM isn’t enough to implement true customer-centricity, and why you need dedicated KAM software to support your people in this effort.

Transactional vs Strategic

We recently reviewed a detailed methodology for identifying Key Accounts. It starts with gathering all your accounts into a portfolio analysis, then applying a set of filters. One of the filters is this simple question: Is this a strategic relationship? Or a transactional one?

Strategic accounts are those with real growth potential. Maybe they’re a government entity, a large corporation, or a fast-growing company. Their needs are recurring and complex, and you know there’s more business to be had at that organization, both in terms of volume and diversity. In addition, what they need to succeed aligns with what you offer—in other words, your goals are compatible, and you’re both set up for a successful partnership.

A transactional account is one where they really only need one product or service from you, and there’s not much room to grow. There’s nothing wrong with transactional clients, especially if that’s your business model. And in that case, your CRM tool may be completely sufficient.

But the only way to fully unlock the potential of strategic customers is through skilled relationship management. Some companies call this Key Account Management (KAM); others call it Strategic Account Management (SAM). At firms like marketing agencies, where every account is a key account, they just call it account management or client management. For the sake of this post, we’ll call it KAM, and summarize it as a process designed to foster long-term, mutually successful partnerships with strategic clients. It’s also a process that requires purpose-built technology.

Generating Leads vs Building Relationships

Traditional CRMs are a sales tool at heart. They excel at tracking transactional behaviors, such as:

  • Lead and contact management
  • Sales opportunity management
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Billing
  • Issue resolution

For a sales team whose focus is drumming up new business, a CRM is a useful tool. However, for a key account management team whose focus is working closely with 1 or 2 high-value accounts, a CRM falls short.

Dedicated KAM software, in contrast, can help you:

  • Know your customers better: Uncover their goals, and put them front and center for cross-functional teams to reference
  • Act on their behalf: Build a detailed action plan to turn those goals into discrete action items
  • Measure what matters: Track specific, real-time progress against customer goals, while also gauging overall account health

And here’s the even better thing: when you know your customers, act on their behalf, and demonstrate value by measuring what matters to them, you’ll find yourself growing the business through contract renewals and SOW increases. Not only that, but your reputation as a partner will travel beyond your current clients, opening the door to new business. In other words, by focusing on key account management, and truly delivering for your clients, you’ll create compelling case studies for new business pitches, too.

Data vs Insights

Because of all the transactions it tracks, a CRM is a vast repository of numbers. But are they the numbers you need? Again, a customer-centric approach to key account management means everything you do, and therefore everything you measure, ladders up to a customer goal.

Whereas a CRM requires you to dig through multiple data sets to find the answers you’re looking for, Kapta organizes metrics and reporting around customer goals, so you’re only ever a few clicks away from a relevant, meaningful report that speaks directly to a particular client, account, or deliverable.

Quality vs Quantity

At the end of the day, customer engagement is about a dynamic, 2-way relationship in which both parties feel successful. It takes consistent, meaningful conversations and skillful relationship management. And while no software can track all the nuances of human interactions, KAM software is set up to prompt and support the kinds of behaviors that lead to strong relationships: Maintaining contact, asking the right questions, capturing the answers, and turning them into meaningful action items that you track diligently.

In contrast, CRM is designed to monitor more superficial customer touchpoints. There’s no clear way to track the quality of your interactions, including what you promised and how you plan to deliver.


If you truly want to put customers first, your CRM is not enough. Kapta is key account management software, guided by Our KAM Process, to help you operationalize a customer-centric mindset.

Schedule a personal demo today to talk through your current approach to customers, and how we can help you build strategic, insightful, quality relationships with customers who’ll stay with you for the long run.