KAM – the art of performance

31st October 2015 |   Dr Paul Johnston

Much has been talked about the nature of value propositions but how do KAMs go about the act of proposing value? Paul Johnston explores KAM distinctiveness, social context and identity.

What makes a key account manager distinctive from other salespeople? Much has been researched and written about KAM best practice (see for example Rackham, 1995; Payne et al, 1998; Ulaga, 2003; Ulaga and Eggert, 2006; Miller, Heimann and Tuleja, 2012). However, my research into how KAMs go about proposing value to customers has revealed something else is going on during customer interactions as well.

For the research 17 senior executives with key account management experience were interviewed and a thematic analysis of their recorded interviews carried out – this method of analysis classified key issues and topics in the interviews and allowed me to draw out the major themes of interest and significance from the data.

The research aimed to find out how KAMs go about the act of proposing value rather than setting out to discover additional missing key elements of a good value proposition. The focus was on what Peter Svensson calls “marketing work” – the performance of undertaking customer interaction – with a view to contributing to emerging research into the way sales and marketing professionals explain and give meaning to what they do (see for example Guesalaga and Johnston, 2010; Ardley, 2011; Davies and Ryals, 2013).

Principal Lecturer at Sheffield Business School | + posts

Dr Paul Johnston is a Principal Lecturer at Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University, where he is a member of the Marketing Subject Group. Dr Johnston has spent 11 years in academia prior to which he had a career in the gaming and gambling industry where he held a number of senior marketing management positions for several organisations. These roles included Sales and Marketing Director of Bell-Fruit manufacturing where he was a member of a management buyout team in the early 1990s. Responsibilities included competitive strategy, key account management and product design and development. You can contact him via: p.r.johnston@shu.ac.uk.