Account-Based Marketing and Key Account Management

In B2B companies, customer acquisition is like searching for gold. One big customer can make all the difference in the world. Personalized marketing and customer retention strategies have been around for long time to increase the chances of acquiring and retaining large customers, but some strategies are worth looking into a little more. Let’s take a look at account-based marketing and how it relates to Key Account Management.


What Is Account-Based Marketing?

Account management is nothing new, but this approach is usually limited to managing existing customers and looking for ways to upsell or cross-sell. Account-based marketing (ABM) brings an account management approach into the marketing process by focusing on specific leads and targeting high-value accounts from the start.

ABM is the logical extension of account management and Key Account Management (KAM). Instead of saving personalization only for high-value accounts that are already in your customer base, you are extending that same level of personalization into the marketing process to draw them. This gives you a unified message from the beginning and helps you bring in high-value accounts with a stronger relationship already established. You’ll have a head start in forming a stronger partnership early on.


Comparing ABM to KAM

ABM and KAM are two sides of the same coin, but they’re not exactly the same thing. Let’s take a look at how they’re different and how the two activities can complement each other:

  • Upstream Versus Downstream

ABM is considered and upstream activity because of the focus on marketing to entirely new customers who may or may not know anything about you yet. It takes place at the very beginning of the supply chain for B2B customer acquisition, including understanding and profiling the ideal potential clients to target. ABM focusing a lot of personalized attention on acquiring a small number of high-value customers.

KAM is further downstream in B2B organizations. KAM starts after a client has already been onboarded and has ordered from you. This means the focus is not on making an immediate sale but on demonstrating the long-term value your company can provide to that customer. Just like ABM, KAM focuses on a small number of high-value customer accounts that have potential to grow in the future to form a stronger B2B partnership.

  • Winning Accounts

With ABM, you’re dedicated to winning over new customers. You want to put on a great first impression with personalized marketing and account-specific efforts in an attempt to draw in specific new customers. ABM is entirely about understanding, targeting, and onboarding new customers.

  • Keeping Accounts

KAM’s main focus is on customer growth and retention. Once your high-value and high-potential customers are actually your customers, KAM works to keep them there. It’s a highly personalized account management strategy that seeks to turn specific customers into partners.

  • Hunting Whales

Both ABM and KAM are going after the whales, but they’re hunting in different oceans. ABM looks for large clients that aren’t already on board with your company, while KAM is looking to make current accounts turn into even larger accounts. ABM brings new, high-value customers into a company’s sights to make a sale and KAM seeks to make that account larger over the long-term.

  • Applying the 80/20 Rule

In B2B companies, the Pareto Principle usually rings true, which is why both ABM and KAM prove to be effective strategies. 80% of revenues come from 20% of B2B customers, making it vital to close and retain large accounts. ABM and KAM complement each other in that they work together to bring in large accounts and grow them over time through intensely personalized relationships.

  • Primary Contacts

As a Key Account Manager or an Account-Based Marketing Manager, your circle of contacts should be small. You’re dealing closely with a few specific accounts, so a few primary relationships are all that’s necessary to make sure things get done right. Part of being fantastic at the job is making sure you’re forming close partnerships and focusing a large chunk of your attention on only a few different customers. You can’t afford to over-extend yourself with ABM or KAM strategies, or they will fall completely flat.


Complementing Each Other

ABM and KAM are not opposing strategies at all. In fact, they’re very complementary if you can integrate the two departments to keep the flow of personalization from stopping at any point. Beginning a partnership by targeting customers with highly personalized campaigns sets the KAM department up for success when information is openly shared. In return, KAM gives consistent information to ABM to help update the ideal customer profile for targeting new customers.


Account-based Marketing introduces customers to the best version of your company up front. It’s a strategy that recognizes the contribution that a few solid customers can make compared to a slough of low-value or one-time customers. Strong partnerships start with an ABM approach and continue to grow with KAM.

When it comes to personalization, that’s where Kapta is most comfortable. Our unique software solutions help Key Account Managers to keep up with everything that’s going on without missing a beat. We make it easy for you to track and measure progress with every account you work for, helping you stay in the loop at all times so you can better assist your customers. Our Key Account Management software is designed to be the only tool needed to drive your success in creating lasting partnerships.

CEO at Kapta
Alex Raymond is the CEO of Kapta.