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KAM and Account Manager – what’s the difference?

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Publicerat: 24 april – 2020

“An account manager (AM) is responsible for the management of sales and relationships with particular customers. An account manager maintains the company’s existing relationships with a client or group of clients, so that they will continue using the company for business.“

“Key account management includes sales but also includes planning and managing the full relationship between a business and its most important customers.”

– That’s according to Wikipedia


Typically, Key Account Managers (KAM) oversee the largest customers in your company whereas account managers are responsible for looking after the rest of your customers. Both the account managers and key account managers are a part of the sales team and often works closely with the support and customer success team.

What defines when a customer should be overseen of by a Key Account Manager?

It is easy to say that the bigger customers should be owned by the Key Account Managers, but it’s harder to define who those “bigger customers” are.
You can define and divide your customer portfolio by looking at the total revenue the customer has contributed with the last 12 months, or, you can have a look at what the customer could potentially buy from you. Or both of them combined!

This is also depending on what your Key Account Managers should be focusing on. Growing the existing accounts or just taking care of them to make sure their investment level stays the same?

If you want your Key Account Managers to grow those big customers even bigger – you need to combine your customers with revenue + potential. And if your Key Account Manager’s job is to maintain large accounts at the same level (maybe beacsue they’re not able to grow them more) revenue is the key for defining which customers they should own.

A KAM needs to act proactively and be able to think long-term and set strategies that will work for both the customer and the company. They’re the first point of contact for anything relating to agreements, pricing, accounts etc.


So, what is the Account Manager’s job and why do I need both?

The Account Manager’s (like the KAMs) job is to maintain the relationship between the customer and the company. Their primary task is to look after existing accounts and make them grow. However, in smaller organizations account managers may also be sales rep’s and in that case, they are in charge of both bringing in new customers and maintain the relationship with existing ones.

This is one reason why it’s important to have both KAMs and Account Managers. A KAM supports the account manager by taking ownership of the larger customers the account manager may have brought onboard. A KAM may oversee 5 key accounts which require a bit more time and effort whereas an account manager oversees 15 smaller customers not needing as much tending to.

Both Key Account Managers and Account Managers are a part of the sales department, however key account management can differentiate to traditional account management. Account Managers often focus more on the short term while KAM’s priority on future objectives.

Account Managers tend to focus on smaller specific opportunities while KAMs goals are more wide range such as partnering up with the customer on mutually beneficial projects, assisting the customer with achieving their goals on a deeper level and making sure they get adequate support.