3. General management and business acumen
3.D.1 IT/system and process literacy
Very few key account managers have secretaries or other regular administrative support, so they have to be able to handle the basic tools of business themselves. Key account managers are disadvantaged if they have difficulty in inputting required information to company systems, cannot extract information themselves, struggle to analyse data or prepare their own documents and presentations. Even if the company provides some resource in these areas, it is often not enough, or not available at the right time, or misaligned with the need.
- Understands the purpose of different company systems and how they work together.
- Understands what information is held where.
- Understands the nature and limitations of information in company systems
- Accesses a wide range of information from company systems; statistics, visual images, presentations, plans, specifications etc.
- Accesses data and extracts it from company systems in suitable forms.
- Develops meaningful analyses of extracted data.
- Keeps customer data in the company systems complete, accurate and up to date.
- Makes timely and accurate inputs of data for corporate and customer processes, e.g. budgets, production plans, specifications, bids, proposals.
- Provides the customer and others in the supplier with appropriate analyses of data, reported in an appropriate form.
- Provides clear interpretations of information to others.
- Understands the information need of senior management and supplies it in an appropriate form and quantity.
Uses and handles common business software well:
- CRM system
- Image management
- Social business media
Examples of relevant theory
- Structures of company functions and their systems
- CRM systems
A document demonstrating capability across all common software tools and the supplier’s own systems, particularly in finding and sharing information, including any formal training received. Additional evidence may consist of reports and analyses based on information held in company systems that have contributed to management of the customer, presentations that you have produced personally, not excluding other tangible evidence.
Papers and articles
Swift, ‘Accelerating Customer Relationships: Using CRM and Relationship Technologies’, 2000, Prentice Hall PRT, Upper Saddle River, USA (This book is clearly not up-to-date in terms of technology, but the way it looks at customer data includes valuable and enduring principles).
3.D.2 Costing and pricing
Key customers rarely stick to pricelist prices and frequently expect flexible offers and bundles. Although major financial decisions are likely to require consultation with others inside the company, key account managers cannot afford to be without an understanding of costs and pricing so they can themselves make sensible responses to reasonable requests and participate constructively in pricing consultations.
- Receives and analyses regular data on sales to the customer.
- Maintains an up-to-date database of prices and costs of product/services sold to the customer.
- Analyses cost and price data and monitors gross margin.
- Calculates and evaluates effects of price and cost changes.
- Works within supplier’s proscribed gross margins limits.
- Identifies product/services sold to the customer making a poor return and finds out why.
- Takes action to improve poorly performing products/services where possible.
- Understands fixed and variable costs.
- Understands the biggest and most important costs in each part of the product/service.
- Appreciates which changes in product, service or logistics increase costs, and which can decrease costs.
- Appreciates the scope of customer support costs and seeks to optimize them.
- Understands which behaviours increase costs, either the customer’s or the supplier’s.
- Calculates realistic cost and price implications before making a proposal internally or externally.
- Readily accesses current prices and understands the impact of the customer’s terms and conditions.
- Prepares for and handles price increases with the customer.
- Understands pricing strategies, e.g. cost-based, market-based, competitive, and the differences between them and their use.
- Recommends well-informed customer pricing approaches to managers.
- Anticipates competitor reactions to pricing strategies.
- Understands price/volume elasticity, and which products/services bought by the customer are elastic and which not.
- Understands how discounting and free product affect gross margin in percentage and absolute terms and formulates strategies to avoid offering them.
Examples of relevant theory
Document demonstrating an understanding of the costing and pricing situation in a key customer and action in response, and any participation in relevant formal training. You can include, for example, cost and price analyses and your conclusions, plans involving costing and pricing action, examples of price modelling.
Papers and articles
Diamantopoulos ‘Pricing’ in Baker (Ed.) ‘The Marketing Book’ (4th Ed.) 1999, Butterworth Heinemann, Oxford
Cram ‘Pricing’ in Baker and Hart (Eds.) ‘The Marketing Book’ (6th Ed.) 2007, Butterworth Heinemann, Oxford
Daly, ‘Pricing for Profitability: Activity-based Pricing for Competitive Advantage’ 2002, John Wiley and Sons, New York, USA
Rogers, ‘Pricing for profit’, 2011, Blackwells. Oxford. UK.