Using CRM for Key Account Management is a Losing Proposition

Are you asking your key account managers to use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform to retain and grow your most valuable accounts?

Successful key account management (KAM) requires a formal process and technology that supports that process. The right software gives account managers a roadmap and all the tools necessary to implement the steps of the process all in one place. This helps them stay on track and never miss a step.

CRMs like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Hubspot, Zoho, Pipedrive, etc. are excellent tools for managing customer relationships throughout the sales process and tracking a sales pipeline. But they are not designed for the post-sale activities required for key account retention and growth.

A CRM doesn’t capture, visualize, and track things like client organizational relationships and structure, goals, account plans, action items, and KAM metrics. So account managers end up using a hodgepodge of a tech stack consisting of programs like Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint decks, email software, Slack, and project management software to fill in the gaps.

This disjointed assembly of technology forces account managers to toggle between platforms, hampering their ability to implement the steps of the KAM process. In effect, you are limiting their productivity, their effectiveness, and setting them up for failure as they strive to support and satisfy your largest customers with CRM.

Why isn’t CRM the right stand-alone solution to successfully support the KAM process?

Stakeholder Relationship Mapping

It’s essential that account managers understand the lay of the land in their key accounts to successfully advance the relationship from that of vendor to trusted advisor status. That’s where relationship mapping comes in.

This process entails identifying and documenting a robust org chart of the major roles within key accounts, and who manages what responsibilities and tasks pertaining to your products or services. It’s also important to document how each individual’s performance is measured, who influences whom, and any commitments made to them.

When this process is technology-enabled, the system becomes a virtual coach that reminds KAMs of missing data they need to gather and fill in.

CRM doesn’t offer this type of visualization and detailed documentation in one easy view for easy reference on a day-to-day basis or remind account managers of what additional data they need to capture.

Strategy Mapping

Relationship mapping clarifies who you want to talk to within your key accounts. Next, account managers need to become familiar with the goals and priorities of these contacts and their organization. This enables account managers to co-create a strategic account plan to drive customer outcomes with your product or service to support those goals.

These account plans involve various insights unearthed from the account manager’s research.

This includes things like:

  • Voice of customer (VOC) interviews: Conversations that help account managers understand customer goals and priorities as well as how they will measure successful achievement.
  • SWOT analyses: This is where the account manager identifies strengths and weaknesses of the client account, as well as opportunities for improvement and threats to the account.

Once these are fully understood, planning can go deeper to define and create a detailed account plan to achieve the desired results. The ability to document all these insights on one platform where they are easily accessible to all internal stakeholders facilitates the account planning process.

This is another area where CRM falls short. It doesn’t include VOC or SWOT elements or a central place to document these findings. Plus, CRM doesn’t offer a complete at-a-glance view of each account to guide internal account review meetings where these plans are initially created and reviewed. This creates a lot of manual work for account managers and internal stakeholders when preparing account plans.

Working the Plan

Once you have finalized a key account plan internally, and then shared and validated it with the customer, it’s time to act on the plan. This means taking all the steps defined in the plan to achieve the customer’s goals.

This is when the status of these activities needs to be tracked to ensure the plan is being fully implemented. To support this, mutually agreed upon KPIs need to be established with the customer at the onset to track progress toward goal attainment.

Having KAM-specific technology in place automatically collects and analyzes the data to measure progress toward hitting established goals. It also delivers notifications and reminders to account team members across your organization and to key account stakeholders, so nobody misses a step. Then, if issues or delays arise during the process, alerts are sent to team members and sales management so they can be addressed to get the plan back on track.

CRM doesn’t include a place to create account plans, manage their implementation, and track task and milestone achievement or progress toward goal attainment. So, account managers are left to use separate platforms. This creates siloed information and doesn’t support essential internal communication between team members concerning the status of elements of the plan as they are implemented.

This also means that data used to track progress toward customer outcomes is captured separately from plan activity tracking instead of in one central location.

Support KAM Success

An effective KAM process is cyclical and repeats continuously. So, as goals are met and companies, markets, and the economy change, goals are adjusted or replaced accordingly. Then a new strategy is created to continue delivering value to key accounts.

Since CRM lacks a central location to store, display, and track this data or support these processes, it doesn’t support the continuous progress of the recurring KAM process. It fails to offer account managers an essential roadmap that guides them through the process, so they never miss a step.

Purpose-built software that supports the entire KAM process includes additional tools like VOC interview questionnaires, SWOT analysis, robust Org charts, and QBR and customer health automations, and handy dashboards. This enables account managers to complete all tasks along the KAM process in one platform for peak efficiency.

Looking for a complete KAM platform for your account managers? Schedule time to see how Kapta supports key account management.

CEO at Kapta
Alex Raymond is the CEO of Kapta.