Do your Key Customer Managers have the core capabilities to win?

Key Customer Managers* are at the heart of many sales organisations, acting as the primary interface with key customers and often having responsibility for a large proportion of the company’s sales revenue. A successful KCM needs to be highly skilled in understanding the needs of their customers, fostering a strong relationship with key decision-makers, building effective business plans that create joint value and then selling, negotiating and implementing them. There is nothing new in that, or is there?

Over the last few years, the rapidly changing marketplace has put new demands on the KCM skill set. From the significant impact of digital and eCommerce on shopper behaviour, to the swift growth of discounters, to customers needing to find new ways to drive profitable growth – the need for KCMs to know how to respond is intense. Not only must they develop new skills in areas such as revenue growth management, shopper marketing and digital / eCommerce, they must also drive value creation across the customer’s entire enterprise and effectively collaborate with their internal multi-functional partners. Added to this is the critical need to be more agile than ever in responding to a world where customer plans are changing on an almost daily basis and the marketplace is evolving rapidly. The pressure on KCMs has never been greater.

On top of all these external pressures we are also seeing employees being promoted more quickly into the role of KCM, bringing with them less foundational experience, and they are not always receiving the proper skill development to succeed. The result in many cases is a KCM organization that lacks the confidence, expertise and skills required to win in today’s marketplace. What is particularly concerning for us is that we are seeing the core skill capability gaps widen for KCMs at many of our clients.

This gap should be very concerning to Sales leadership. Simply stated, you cannot turn a sales representative into a KCM by changing their title alone and as the gap grows, the KCMs ability to deliver revenue and share growth diminishes, key customers lose faith in the sales organization and attrition within the KCM ranks increases.

For companies wanting to maximize the value of their KCMs and drive growth, these skill gaps need to be addressed. Some considerations are as follows:

  1. Set the foundation quickly for KCMs who are new in role so they can get up to speed rapidly and be set up for success

  2. Support them to be more agile in their planning and ways of working with customers to respond to the changing needs of the market and deliver against their objectives

  3. Provide ‘in the moment’ support solutions that help them build their skills when and where they need it most

  4. Build their skills and confidence in dealing with new areas like revenue growth management and eCommerce

  5. Help them to join up their planning with brand and channel strategies to ensure they support the overall consumer/customer experience.

At Brand Learning, we possess the expertise and experience to help Sales organisations in any industry close these KCM gaps. We work closely with our clients to clearly identify and understand the real work challenges and skill gaps and develop capability plans to close them. We can then design and develop bespoke experiential learning programs that will both motivate and equip KCMs to succeed in their roles. Our focus is always on learning for performance – helping our clients’ teams to do real work, really well, lifting the performance of people, teams and organisations.

Please contact us for more information.

* At Brand Learning we use the term Key Customer Managers instead of Key Account Managers (KAMs) as we believe it better reflects the service orientation required from these roles.

BRAND LEARNING: Inspiring people. Lifting capabilities. Growing organisations.