What Is the Difference Between Key Account Management and CRM?

One of the questions I hear a lot when I tell people about Kapta is “what’s the difference between Kapta and a CRM?” Fair question, especially from Key Account Managers and Customers Success teams that are already swamped with technology and understandably wary of “yet another software tool.”

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) such as Salesforce, SAP, and Microsoft Dynamics have proliferated over the years as companies of all sizes try to effectively manage sales opportunities.

However, in the arena of true customer relationship management, these CRM solutions may not address some of the most essential elements of maintaining strong, solid relationships with existing clients.

To address these issues, Key Account Management (KAM) software has entered the picture, promising much in the way of maximizing client relationship management and taking client interactions to a new level.

To fully grasp the benefits of Key Account Management software, it is essential to understand the difference between Key Account Management and CRM. Consider the following two areas in which KAM and CRM differ.


CRM solutions are strongly focused on managing the sales process. Capturing key metrics, CRM solutions can pinpoint accurately where leads are in the sales pipeline. Thus, sales teams can take appropriate action to convert leads into sales. This heavy focus on managing sales opportunities and acquiring new clients is CRM’s strength.

However, this strong focus on new client acquisition means that less focus is directed toward building lasting relationships with the clients. CRM automates client relationships, removing, to some extent, the personal touch in client interactions.

KAM solutions, on the other hand, focus strongly on building solid relationships with existing high-priority clients. Rather than thinking of clients merely as “opportunities”, KAM solutions encourage a more holistic approach.

Instead of automating generic customer interactions, KAM software provides a more in-depth overview of clients and their needs. It captures highly personalized data for each client. Account managers, armed with information about the goals of clients and their particular challenges, can more appropriately and effectively build strong relationships with those clients.

Therefore, rather than focusing primarily on new client acquisition like CRM solutions do, KAM solutions focus more fully on building lasting relationships for the mutual good of both enterprises and their clients.

Personalization and Added Value

Companies of all sizes understand that there are certain key accounts that represent a large portion of their annual revenue. Account managers, tasked with the job of handling these high-priority clients, must use all the tools at their disposal to build and maintain strong client ties.

CRM solutions may lay the basic foundation for client relationships, but they do not provide the high-touch approach needed for a company’s most valuable clients.

KAM solutions, on the other hand, build on the foundation provided by CRM solutions to give account managers the correct tools for relationship-building at its finest.

High-priority clients need and expect specialized support. With KAM solutions, account managers can take the journey to the next level of customer relationship management. Utilizing the tools provided by KAM software, account managers can work with clients closely to design client-specific goals and address any challenges that are specific to the client.

Why is this important? Simply put, high-priority clients need to perceive the value you provide. Clearly establishing goals and then working toward those goals allows you to demonstrate your company’s true worth to the client. KAM solutions help you track your progress and keep your goals aligned with those of the client. Armed with this vital information, account managers can continually strengthen your company’s ties with key clients by highlighting areas of success and quickly addressing areas of weakness.

Success can also be achieved by identifying and easing the specific pain points of your clients. KAM solutions help you prioritize the challenges your client faces in order of perceived importance. Working diligently to address client issues, account managers build trust and loyalty with high-priority clients, ensuring the continuation of a mutually beneficial relationship.

Customer-Centric Solutions

KAM solutions offer account managers a centralized place for relationship management that exceeds the service level provided by standard CRM solutions. Rather than gathering data from a wide variety of disparate systems, account managers can achieve a holistic view of client goals, challenges, and progress in real-time with integrated KAM solutions.

If you’d you like to learn more about how Key Account Management software can provide your account managers with the tools they need to build stronger, more valuable relationships with your key accounts, request a demo today.

CEO at Kapta
Alex Raymond is the CEO of Kapta.