Implemented Key Account Management


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Key account management
a study of mid-sized organisations with and without implemented key account management
Authors: Andersson, Eric Johansson, Linus Tutor: Mosad Zineldin Examiner: Martin Amsteus Date: 27th May 2015 Subject: Key account management Level: Bachelor thesis Course code: 2FE16E

Abstract
There has been a shift in recent decades in the business-to-business field in terms of advancements in technology and increased competition, thus leading to organisations become more attentive on embedding with customers. This concept is referred to as relationship management and a further concept to embed with strategically important customers is referred to as key account management.
The use of key account management has been described as highly individual and it is implemented in various ways and has different approaches. However, it was found that there is a lack of research regarding important aspects of key account management and how they are conducted in practices in mid-sized organisations with and without a formal key account management programmes. The identified aspects were relationship management, key account management, key account manager, key accounts, key account teams and involvement from top management. By aiming to bridge this gap in research, the authors conducted in-depth interviews in two midsized organisations in Sweden, one with an implemented key account management programme and one without any formal key account management.
The authors found by analysing the data gathered that there were findings suggesting that the aspects of KAM were performed by both organisations. Although the tasks in both organisations was performed by other individuals as suggested by the key account management literature. Furthermore, the authors provide a theoretical and practical contribution from the research as well as suggestions for further research.
Keywords: Key account management, key account teams, key account, key account manager, relationship management, top management involvement, Business to business

Acknowledgements
This bachelor thesis was executed at the marketing programme at the Linnaeus University in the spring of 2015. Conducting this study has been a valuable experience in the sense that the authors have gained a higher level of knowledge and understanding in the field of Key Account Management. However, this study wouldn't have been possible without the help from a number of people.
We would like to express our gratitude to the companies that participated and disposed of their time in order to help us in the research. We would also like to thank our tutor Mosad Zineldin and our examiner Martin Amsteus that has guided us and provided valuable feedback during the course of the study. Also a special thanks to Dan Halvarsson that gave us feedback in the method regarding the questions for the interviews.
Linnaeus University June 2015

Eric Anderson

Linus Johansson

Table of Contents
Abstract ......................................................................................................................... 3
Acknowledgements ......................................................................................................5
List of tables..................................................................................................................8
1. Introduction..............................................................................................................1
1.1 Background.................................................................................................................... 1 1.2 Problem discussion........................................................................................................ 2 1.3 Purpose........................................................................................................................... 3 1.4 Delimitations.................................................................................................................. 4 1.5 Outline of the thesis....................................................................................................... 4
2. Literature review of the theoretical framework ...................................................6
2.1 Relationship management ............................................................................................ 6 2.2 Key account management............................................................................................. 7
2.2.1 Key account teams ................................................................................................... 8 2.2.2 Key accounts............................................................................................................ 9 2.2.3 Key account manager .............................................................................................. 9 2.2.4 Top management involvement............................................................................... 10
3. Research model and research questions ..............................................................12
3.1 Proposed research model............................................................................................ 12 3.2 Research questions ...................................................................................................... 12
4.0 Methodology .........................................................................................................13
4.1 Research approach...................................................................................................... 13 4.1.1 Inductive vs. deductive research ............................................................................ 13 4.1.2 Qualitative vs. quantitative research ...................................................................... 13
4.2 Research design ........................................................................................................... 14 4.2.1 Multiple case study design..................................................................................... 14
4.3 Research process ......................................................................................................... 15 4.4 Sampling ...................................................................................................................... 17 4.5 Sample frame ............................................................................................................... 18 4.6 Sample selection and data collecting procedure ....................................................... 18 4.7 Quality criteria ............................................................................................................ 19
4.7.1 Validity .................................................................................................................. 19 4.7.2 Reliability .............................................................................................................. 19 4.9 Operationalization ...................................................................................................... 20 4.10 Method summary ...................................................................................................... 22
5. Presentation of empirical data..............................................................................23
5.1 Company A .................................................................................................................. 23 5.1.1 Sales executive .......................................................................................................... 23
5.1.1 Key account manager ............................................................................................ 25 5.2 Company B .................................................................................................................. 27
5.2.1 Sales executive....................................................................................................... 27 5.1.2 Salesperson ............................................................................................................ 28

6. Analysis ...................................................................................................................30
6.1 Relationship management .......................................................................................... 30 6.2 Key account management........................................................................................... 31 6.3 Key account teams ...................................................................................................... 32 6.4 Key accounts ................................................................................................................ 33 6.5 Key account manager ................................................................................................. 34 6.6 Top management involvement ................................................................................... 35
7. Conclusion and contribution.................................................................................36
7.1 Theoretical contribution ............................................................................................. 37 7.2 Practical contribution ................................................................................................. 38 7.3 Limitations ................................................................................................................... 38 7.4 Further research ......................................................................................................... 39
8. References...............................................................................................................40 9. Appendix 1..............................................................................................................45
List of tables
Table 1. Operationalization.………………………………..………………………..………….20 Table 2. Method summary.……………………………………………………………………….22
List of figures
Figure1. Research model.……………………………………...………………………………….12

1. Introduction
This chapter provides an introduction to the investigated subject. It includes a background to introduce a general understanding of key account management. The included problem discussion elaborates subject related to problems within key account management, which propose the relevance for this research, and ends in the research purpose.
1.1 Background
In recent decades, there has been a shift from traditional selling in the business-tobusiness (B2B) field, from a transaction-based seller-buyer interaction to a relationship building approach (Grönroos, 1994. Morgan & Hunt 1994). It is attentive on embedding with customers and building long-term relationships, emerging as a reaction to advancements in technology and increased competition, referred to as relationship management (Morgan & Hunt, 1994). Key account management (KAM) is one approach to embedding with customers and building long term relationships with strategically important customers, referred to as key accounts (KA) (Cheverton, 2012). KAM is similar to the concept relationship management as it is attentive on a long-term relational approach with customers, where KAM is focused on investing time and resources on the strategically important customers (Ibid).
KAM has grown to be a commonly implemented strategy in organisations within the B2B field during recent decades (Gounaris & Tzempelikos, 2012). It has lead to “Key account manager” being a common title within sales organisations today (Ojasalo, 2001). Even though the phenomenon of KAM has gained popularity in recent years it is still regarded as a highly complex organisational structure for organisations (Homburg et al. 2002). Specifically the implementation process of a KAM programme has proven to be long lasting and complex for many organisations (McDonald et al. 1997. Wengler et al. 2006. Nätti & Palo, 2012). It requires large organisational restructures which has to be managed and embraced by employees in order to succeed (Marcos-Cuveas et al. 2014. Gounaris & Tzempelikos, 2013). Especially larger organisations tend to implement full key account programmes with integrated key account teams and key account managers (Abratt & Kelly, 2001), due
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