Your Guide to the Key Account Management Maturity Model

As a key account manager, evolving to provide better service is an important part of the job. However, to do so, you have to understand where you are currently, and where you need to be. With a maturity model, you can do exactly that.

Topics

What is a Maturity Model?

Breaking down the KAM Maturity Model By Starting with the Process

Implementing a Maturity Model for Account Planning

Where Communication Fits Into the Account Management Maturity Model

How is Your Leadership Mindset Evolving?

Improving Customer Experience Through the Account Management Maturity Model

What is a Maturity Model?

A maturity model is a tool developed and used for assessing the growing development and performance of a group or individual. It helps understand an individual or organization's performance against established stages of growth. They can be utilized for just about any given profession and can be customized to fit certain organizations. 

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

The Importance of Maturity Models

Maturity models are essential because they give insight into current performance, direction for future growth, and help set metrics or standards to compare against. Managers can use maturity models to set KPIs, create objective records of performance and growth, and help teams determine process changes. 

Understanding the Levels of Maturity in Account Management 

Key account managers are expected to develop throughout their professional journey, and having a path to help them understand where they currently stand and where they need to go is crucial. The levels of the key account management maturity model are: 

Level 1: Adhoc

In the very first stage, most processes, communication, and technology are almost non-existent. Organizations at this stage are siloed and day-to-day responsibilities are sporadic and unorganized. Clients are frustrated and at this level, organizations and teams see high levels of churn. 

Level 2: Awareness

At the awareness stage, organizations are committed to changing the issues that they see. There is more documentation, communication, and a bit better customer experience, but these positive changes aren’t consistent. 

Level 3: Repeatable

At the third level, the organization as a whole invests in better infrastructure and tools. There is more growth, customers are returning more often, and your KAM team has a dedicated platform. Processes are repeatable and internal silos are beginning to break down. 

Level 4: Predictable

At this stage, your team is adaptable, and your organization understands that customer-centricity is a competitive advantage. Your customers are seeing this change and your churn rates have decreased significantly. 

Level 5: Activating

At the final stage of the KAM maturity model, the customer is the central focus of every decision and every action the organization and the KAM team make. There is a deep and meaningful collaboration between the KAM team and their clients, processes are dynamic, and the program is seeing desired results. 

Factors That Impact the Account Management Maturity Model

While the levels seem easy enough to understand, it is also essential to understand how to properly foster growth along with the different levels. KAMs and teams have to truly internalize the value of client success, not simply go through the motions like most organizations who claim “customer-centricity” do. Some of the factors your key account managers should be focused on include:

  • Processes
  • Team Behavior
  • Internal Communication
  • Account Plans
  • Frequency of reviews
  • Training
  • Tech
  • Leadership Mindset
  • Customer Experience

For more information about what a KAM maturity model is, the levels, and the different focus areas, take a look at this helpful article and keep reading to dive into a few of the specific sections.

Breaking Down the KAM Maturity Model by Starting with the Process

Without detailed and consistent processes, your key account team will struggle to develop proactive and valuable workflows. Key account management is a personalized profession with customized services, outputs, and plans, but having a base level process of how to do specific tasks and how to handle clients is still an essential aspect of a high functioning team. 

Your team needs tools and resources to build strong relationships, evaluate clients to understand their objectives, pain points, and goals, and understand clients' org charts, key contacts, and main decision-makers. Without the proper mindset and processes, your KAM team will never truly understand the client's value. 

Breaking Down the Account Management Process Maturity Model

Level 1: Non-Existent

Your team works with no established workflows, account managers work reactively rather than proactively, and clients are unsatisfied, pushing them to turn to competitors. 

To reach level 2, your team and leaders need to be committed to changing the status quo.

Level 2: Documented, Not Always Followed

At level 2, expectations are documented and there is a very high-level workflow. This is better than nothing, but account managers are oftentimes still making up their own processes and workflows. Your team is client-focused during onboarding, but that fades away soon after. 

Your team needs greater investment in following through with the established infrastructure, and buy-in from leaders at every level is critical. 

Level 3: Repeatable and Easy to Train New Team Members

At the third level, workflows and best practices are repeatable and easy to train new team members with. Your accounts at this level are often sticking around, reducing your churn, but they are typically not growing. 

To move up, everyone from account managers to leaders needs to understand the value of customer-centricity as a tool to out-compete competitors. 

Level 4: Adaptable to Changing Conditions and Circumstances

Customers are at the center of your organization. Account managers can adapt workflows to the customer to give clients top-notch service. 

To reach the highest level of the process maturity model, teams need to be willing to put their clients at the center of every decision and action, not just see the value in it. It’s time to walk the walk. 

Level 5: Processes are Dynamic, Reviewed, and Improved Frequently and There’s Input Across the Client Journey

The top of the KAM process maturity model pillar! Account managers aren’t making any exceptions to provide excellent service. Dynamic processes are established and well documented so they are useful to everyone. 

To dive deeper into the KAM process maturity model, check out this blog.

Implementing a Maturity Model for Account Planning

The most common reason account managers run into roadblocks is because of a lack of consistent structure, no access to the right tools, and not having an organization-wide focus on excellent client service. 

Level 1: Non-Existent

At the first level, your team has little to no structure and workflows vary from account manager to account manager, which makes it difficult for leaders to evaluate processes. 

To move up, the team and organization need to be committed to change. 

Level 2: Awareness 

Here, some attempt at a structure has been made. There are a few documented processes and some formal client meetings, but no follow-up. Customers experience inconsistency and communications are siloed. Your team probably has a CRM but it is limited and doesn’t support consistent, client-focused work. 

To move to level 3, everyone must be committed to creating the right infrastructure. 

Level 3: Repeatable

More procedures have been developed and account managers are following them mostly, but oftentimes your team seems to just be going through the motions and not internalizing the benefits. A dedicated KAM platform has been acquired which allows for more robust notes and more success within your team. 

To get to level 4, your entire organization must believe that focusing on clients is a huge competitive advantage. 

Level 4: Predictable

At the fourth level, KAMs are proactively running their client accounts, pinpointing problems before they grow too big. Client relationships are stronger and better and everyone benefits from these relationships. 

To reach the final level, the client must be the center of everything your organization and team do. 

Level 5: Activating

Here, every step of the client journey is mapped and the clients are the center point of every decision made. There are consistent win-win scenarios and everyone is happy. 

To learn more about the account planning KAM maturity model, read this informative guide.

Where Communication Fits Into the Account Management Maturity Model

Communication is one of the most important aspects of an account manager's job. Not only with their clients, but throughout their organization as well. Understanding where a team currently stands and how they can better their communication practices is essential to bettering the organization as a whole. 

Level 1: Ad Hoc

At this level, communication is not cohesive. Internally, departments are siloed and information is hard to find. A variety of tools and methods are used with little to no tracking or integration. Clients view your organization as disorganized, inefficient, and unprofessional, resulting in higher levels of churn. 

To make it to the next level, the organization as a whole must recognize the problem and be committed to change.

Level 2: Awareness

At level two, there is some effort, but there is still no visibility into the progress of customer accounts and lost information. Meetings are disjointed and information is often repeated or left out altogether. After meetings, there is rarely follow up and clients typically lose confidence quickly. 

To reach the next level, the organization has to be ready to invest time, effort, and money to create better infrastructure

Level 3: Repeatable

Communication has grown to be more consistent and systems have been put in place. However, not all of these systems communicate with each other so account managers are still having to enter information multiple times. Clients also benefit from fewer communication barriers with documented calls and more consistent follow-ups. However, AMs are still reacting rather than proactively communicating. 

To move on, the organization must commit to customer-centric actions and approaches. 

Level 4: Predictable

Now, processes are more consistent. Anyone can view information freely, systems are all communicating with each other, and dashboards are in place to see the status of clients. Externally, clients have a schedule of QBRs and they enjoy the level of communication and support they receive. 

Finally, the focus on client success needs to be maximized in every area to move to the last level. 

Level 5: Activating

At the final level, the organization is working like a well-oiled machine. Communication is transparent and built around providing excellent service to your clients. There are little to no silos and the lack of barriers feeds into client relationships. Meetings are set up proactively and account managers are able to spot problems and fix them before clients even have a chance to notice. 

Communication is essential for the success of any organization. To learn more about the KAM communication maturity model, take a peek at this article.

How is Your Leadership Mindset Evolving? 

Leadership is a quality any good account manager should possess. However, how do you make sure it’s happening and happening well? The good news is that leadership is a skill just like any other that can be learned and evolved. With a KAM leadership mindset maturity model, you can pinpoint exactly where you fall on the skill and how to level up to provide the best service for your clients. 

What is a Leadership Mindset?

A leadership mindset is a make-up of attitudes and beliefs that guide your actions and the expectations you have of yourself and your team members. This mindset influences every aspect of performance and includes these elements:

  • Resourcefulness
  • Directness
  • Future Focus 
  • Customer-Centricity

How to Develop and Evolve Your Leadership Mindset

Level 1: Ad Hoc

At the first level, systems are messy, you are inconsistent, and oftentimes, unprofessional. Account managers at this level often make changes spontaneously, but don’t keep them in place. 

To move on, the problem must be identified and your team must commit to change. 

Level 2: Awareness

Here, things are getting better, but customers still aren’t sticking around. There is a lack of history, progress tracking, and client outreach is reactive. Account managers are stressed and exacerbated by the adverse environment. 

To move to the next level, you must invest in infrastructure and consistent work processes that allow you and your team to keep up.

Level 3: Repeatable

The key element here is seeing retention as a driver of valuation. The core focus is retaining current clients. Processes are still rocky and inconsistent, however. 

To move to the fourth level, the customer must be the center of your mindset. 

Level 4: Predictable

Now, you are building processes around clients. When you see something that could be better, you make the improvement. KPIs are in place and customers are happier. However, the customer still isn’t always put first. 

To reach the final stage, your perspective, mindset, and motivations all need to gravitate towards the customer. 

Level 5: Activating

At this level, the customer is prioritized in every decision. They are a stakeholder in every process you create. You understand and value the importance of a truly client-centric organization.

To find out more about the KAM leadership mindset maturity model, read about it by visiting this blog.

Improving Customer Experience Through the Account Management Maturity Model

All too often we hear of organizations claiming to be customer-centric. But when you get down to the nitty-gritty, that customer-first mindset seems to dissolve into thin air. However, to ensure a thriving business and successful account management team, you need to truly understand the importance of having the customer as your main stakeholder and implement changes to make that a reality. 

Why is Customer Experience Important?

Customer experience isn’t just important, it is the most important thing. Without it, you’ll experience high levels of churn, poor reviews, and high volume and stress for your account managers and customer support teams.

Improving Customer Experience Through the Account Management Maturity Model

Level 1: Ad Hoc

At this level, customers generally don’t have a great experience with your organization. Your team isn’t prioritizing their experience and the focus is solely on making money. NPS is low and there is minimal retention. 

To get your team to the next level, everyone must be committed to making a change. 

Level 2: Awareness

Your team is motivated to make changes but things are inconsistent. Clients are still frustrated and account managers are forced to work through workarounds to get what they want. They are unable to predict what the clients will do next because there really is no process. 

To make beneficial changes, the organization must realize better infrastructure is what is needed and everyone must be dedicated to the changes. 

Level 3: Repeatable

Service at this level is more consistent but these changes are often still based on making things easier for your internal team, not the client. 

To move on to the next level, you must adopt a customer-centric mindset. 

Level 4: Predictable

Here, service is great and more often than not choices and changes are based on the customer experience, not your own. There are still areas where the customer isn’t the central focus, and changing that is what will spring you to the final level. 

Level 5: Activating

At the final level, everyone is aligned toward the common goal of ensuring every single customer experience is excellent. Teams are collaborating and proactively making moves. Retention and acquisition metrics are growing steadily.

To find out more about the KAM customer experience maturity model, take a look at this blog

As you have certainly noticed by now, an essential component in every section of the key account management maturity model is having the proper tools and infrastructure. Kapta’s key account management platform is designed with these systems in mind to help you build the strongest account management team possible. To learn more, contact us today.

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CEO at Kapta
Alex Raymond is the CEO of Kapta.