What is a Maturity Model?

Results-based metrics are important, but they're limited. They indirectly point to failing or successful business practices, forcing many organizations to guess how to improve their metrics. But maturity models, as explained by ResearchGate, "...help integrate traditionally separate organizational functions, set process improvement goals and priorities, provide guidance for quality processes, and provide a benchmark for appraising current processes outcomes."

Learn more about how maturity models for your key account management team, specifically, can drive a greater focus on client success and help your teams increase their results-based metrics along the way.

What Is a Maturity Model?

A maturity model is a tool for assessing the growing development and performance of a group or individual. While performance models can compare an individual's activities and metrics against an objective standard, maturity models place an individual's performance against the established stages of growth and expertise. Maturity models can be used for virtually any given discipline or profession so individuals, groups, and their managers can determine current growth levels and set appropriate goals for further growth in the industry.

Maturity models are also useful for businesses that want to assess and improve business processes rather than individuals.

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

Why Are Maturity Models Important?

Maturity models are very versatile tools that give users insight into current performance, direction for future growth and improvement, and set metrics or standards to compare future growth against. Teams and managers can use them to:

  • Set realistic KPIs and improvement goals
  • Create objective records of internal performance and growth over time
  • Help teams determine next steps or process changes 
  • Identify institutional or workflow barriers inhibiting maturity growth

What Are the Levels of Maturity in KAM?

Key account managers will develop throughout their professional journey to have different levels of ability, insight, and maturity that allow them to perform at greater heights over time. While reaching the latter stages of development is crucial for all key account teams, that's not to say new KAM team members at lower levels are poor performers. Instead, individuals and managers should assess where they're performing and create plans to develop them through maturity levels.

The key levels of maturity in KAM are:

1. Adhoc

Adhoc maturity is just the first stage, but many organizations and individuals fail to reach it. Here, you or your team realize the importance of customer success, but that realization is intermittent, and no work processes or policies align with this realization. Individuals can see the internal organization's benefits as a result of customer success, but the realization doesn't drive action or reflection.

A key account manager is ready to move on to the next stage when they acknowledge the need for change and are committed to making it.

2. Awareness

Here, key account managers or teams realize that customer success drives success and should be a factor in how they interact with customers or arrange internal processes. Employees know that helping clients achieve success will help them and the organization but aren't sure how to turn that realization into practice.

A key account manager is ready to move on to the next stage when they see the value in investing time and effort in a dedicated infrastructure for the post-sales team.

3. Repeatable

Individuals and teams are now optimizing processes along the lifecycle of each client to improve the client experience and better foster client success. As the changes become codified in workflows, the results are repeatable. However, there are still gaps where businesses processes don't align with client success and some parts of client management are still a struggle.

A key account manager is ready to move on to the next stage when they recognize the competitive advantage of placing the customer at the center of their processes.

4. Predictable

Teams are now implementing customer-centric processes throughout the entire lifecycle and are building metrics that indicate client success to bolster and continually refine interactions. This shifts the focus to long-term growth, as individuals and teams now factor client success into their evaluation of success or failure of various processes.

A key account manager is ready to move on to the next stage when they recognize and are willing to put the customer at the center of each business activity.

5. Activating

At this top stage of key account manager maturity, individuals and teams see the impact of client success at every level of the organization, not just as a direct factor for renewal and retention. Because of the focus on client success, customer acquisition rates increase, costs for account management decrease, and scaling becomes more profitable.

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

Factors That Impact the KAM Maturity Model

While the levels in the key account manager maturity model may be easy enough to understand and assess, knowing how to properly foster growth along the model is more challenging. After all, KAMs and teams need to internalize the value of client success, not just operate with it as a required priority. Some of the factors that can help healthily develop KAMs through the maturity model are:

  1. Process: Processes should naturally cater to and directly mention client success. This can help both new hires and experienced employees keep client success top of mind.
  2. Team Behavior: When the whole team buys into the value of client success, it's easier to approach changes in workflows and create a healthier culture of driving client success further.
  3. Internal Communication: Internal communications should also promote a customer-centric approach, especially when creating workflows and resolutions for problems or negative customer interactions.
  4. Account Plans: Teams should have personalizable templates for crafting key account plans and sales strategies that are built around client success. This infrastructure sets the stage for keeping client success in mind and offering the right services that align with customers' needs.
  5. Frequency of internal reviews: Monthly and quarterly internal reviews can help push KAM maturity, especially if reviews focus on a mix of team-based evaluations and individual reviews that are tied to development and progress instead of bonuses or punitive reviews.
  6. Training: Managers can foster faster maturity and growth by developing training materials that prioritize client success. You can train new and continuing KAMs to better understand the clients' perspective, proactively assess needs and challenges, and otherwise support client growth.
  7. Technology: Technology should help, not hinder, a transformative approach. Opt for a CRM and KAM software that can allow for personalized workflows that meet the needs of different clients, robust analytics tools that can help evaluate client success, and communication channels so KAMs can see every client interaction with your organization.
  8. Leadership Mindset: Managers and executive teams need to strive for higher stages on the maturity model. Without leadership support, KAMs will be limited to rote interactions, manual processes, and sub-standard levels of service.
  9. Customer Experience: Ultimately, if your organization's clients aren't succeeding with your service or aren't enjoying their experience, you can't grow as an organization. You also can't help your team see the positive impacts of client success. Focus on improving the experience, service levels, and interactions.

Help Your Key Account Managers Grow With Support From Kapta

A combination of the right mindset and the right key account management software can set the stage for client and organization success. Kapta develops KAM software and account management tools that organizations can use to track key accounts, stay on top of personalized management strategies, and more. Contact us today to learn more about our approach to key account management or to schedule a demo.

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CEO at Kapta
Alex Raymond is the CEO of Kapta.