How to get a Diploma in KAM
Gaining a Diploma in KAM (by experience)
AKAM's reason for existence is the improvement of practice in Key Account Management, both in terms of the ways in which companies execute KAM, and also in the professionalisation of key account managers. To be successful in KAM, organisations need to have the right approach and the right people to follow it. Now there is a qualification for key account managers that can be recognised across companies and regions, by employers and their HR managers and by universities and colleges. This is how it works and what you need to do to gain a Diploma in KAM (by experience).
NB: To gain a Diploma in KAM (by study) you should contact a college certified by AKAM as covering the required competencies, which will explain the process.
The Diploma is designed for those who have been working as a key account manager and covers the essential competencies required by any key account manager. To gain a Diploma the candidate must demonstrate sufficient ability in 12 competences across a range of activities (see end of page for competency component details):
- Market and customer understanding
- Sales and business development
- General management and business acumen
- Organisational effectiveness
- Relationships and interaction
AKAM recognises that understanding and competency can be gained in more than one way, through ‘learning by doing’ while fulfilling the role of key account manager; by observing and exchanging experience with peers and managers in KAM; by formal learning opportunities like courses and conferences; and by self-study and research. The AKAM qualification scheme also allows students to draw on formal training from different sources, different participating universities, in-house programmes or other training providers.
The means of study is less important to AKAM than the actual acquisition of knowledge and competency: your learning may have been acquired through experience and practice, formal study, attendance at a course, writing, analysis, planning or other developmental activity.. However, candidates will have to demonstrate an awareness and understanding of theory as well as practice in each of the competency areas.
You will be asked to submit evidence of your understanding of theory and experience of practice and to demonstrate what you have learned and implemented, normally in a written portfolio of performance. Where you offer practice of KAM as part of the evidence of your learning, you will need to get the signature of your line manager or other senior manager in the organisation to confirm that your account of what you have done is true.
You may submit other documents, e.g. key account plans, internal reports, other material used in a key account relationship, as part of your evidence. If you have attended a course and are claiming that your attendance and consequent activities required as part of the coursework are part of your evidence, you should submit course documentation (e.g. presentations, handouts, assignment briefings) together with the signature of the course tutor or your line manager to confirm that you attended the course and successfully completed the required tasks.
You submit your portfolio of evidence of proficiency separately but simultaneously for each competency. If you wish, you may submit your evidences in two tranches, but the first must consist of material for at least half of the competencies (i.e. a minimum of 6). The AKAM Qualifications Board will agree whether or not your evidence fulfils the requirements for passing each competency area. If the evidence of the level of knowledge is judged insufficient, the candidate will receive an indication of what is lacking and will be allowed to resubmit at a later date. Finally, you must pass 12 of the 13 competencies.
Students will also participate in an oral examination conducted over the internet, which may cover any of the competencies they have submitted before the qualification is awarded, and will particularly focus on establishing that you are the originator of the evidence you have offered. You must also pass the viva, which will normally be conducted by two members of the AKAM Qualifications Board.
The Diploma will not be graded: you are only required to pass. Your name will then be entered into the AKAM register of qualified key account managers, and you will receive a certificate with a list of the competencies you have passed, signed by the Chairman of AKAM.
‘Diploma competencies in detail’ is designed to show you what the Qualifications Board will be looking for, to avoid any speculation or confusion. As a result, it is a long document, so we advise you to consider one competency at a time and build your evidence around the structure given. It also gives some ideas of sources, in case you need background for your practical experience.
You should register when you are ready to start preparing your evidence, so we can answer your queries and provide any clarification that you need. You should write up and collect your evidence for one competency and submit it before embarking on the rest. Your registration fee includes a review of that competency and advice on how to make appropriate submissions that will pass assessment, to ensure that you have a good idea of expectations before embarking on the others. You choose which competency to submit at this stage, but we suggest you pick an area in which you are most experienced and knowledgeable.
Feedback will normally be given by phone, and if you have found a tutor or mentor to work with, they are welcome to join that conversation. For subsequent competencies AKAM will deal with queries in principle, but generally not about specific or individual material.
If you do not have someone appropriate and would like some support through the process, you can ask us for suggestions. AKAM will compile a list of experts with appropriate qualifications and/or experience who could help you AKAM will recommend an appropriate rate for this work, but the arrangement will be made direct between you and the tutor, and neither of you are bound by the recommended rate.
Including assessment of first competency: €150
Evidence for further 11 competencies:: €850
Minimum six competencies: €525
On submission of remaining competencies, further: €525
Competencies not passed on first submission, 4 or fewer: €400
5 or more: €800
AKAM Key Account Manager Diploma competencies
1. Business and customer understanding
|1.D.1 Knowledge of own company
· Infrastructure, organisation and people
· Systems and processes
· Company strategy
· Supplier’s marketplace
|1.D.2 Customer organisation
· Infrastructure, organisation and people
· Systems and processes
· Customer’s product/service offering
· Customer’s marketplace
|1.D.3 Customer plan
· Collection of information
· Analysis and interpretation of data
· Production of plan
· Plan presentation
2. Sales and business development
|2.D.1 Product/service and application knowledge
· Knowledge of own company’s range
· Features and benefits
· Product application and performance
· Competitors’ product/service offering
· The customer’s buying process
· Sales meeting preparation
· Sales meetings
|2.D.3 Business development
· New products/services
· New customer business units
· New potential key customers
3. General management and business acumen
|3.D.1 IT and system/process literacy
· Information extraction
· Information supply
· Common software
|3.D.2 Costing and pricing
· Sales data
4. Organisational effectiveness
|4.D.1 Personal organisation
· Workload management
· Workplace conduct
· Communication planning
· Face-to-face communication
· Written communications
|4.D.3 Customer plan implementation
· Resource acquisition
· Alignment of operational resources
· Alignment of action to plan
· Measures and monitoring
5. Relationships and interaction
|5.D.1 Customer relationships
· Customer attractiveness
· Relational states
· Relationship management
· Relationship development
|5.D.2 Internal relationships
· Internal allies
· Cross-functional working
· Effective collaboration