Cross-selling is dead – long live Key Account Management!

22 Apr 2013

Chris HoweKey Account Management (KAM) is increasingly common among law firms. Why is it so prevalent and is it just more buzz words?

What is Key Account Management?

An approach to developing relationships with your biggest and most important clients such that you establish a preferential position for work instructions.

Why does Key Account Management matter?

  • Consolidation. Unless you are in retail an increasing proportion of revenue comes from a smaller number of clients
  • Clients expect it. Clients seek in all their supplier relationships to build arrangements that support them in their key strategic goals. This simplifies the supply chain and makes their business more resilient. Why give work to someone who knows nothing of your business when your regular supplier can hit the ground running – and you know what you are going to get?
  • Everybody’s doing it. If your competitors have stronger relationships with your clients, they will likely win out. You need to be at the races too.

How does Key Account Management differ from Cross Selling?

It is not “my friend is a great lawyer too” but “how can our team help you achieve your goals”. So, if you were reluctant to introduce colleagues to your client so they could sell more services, then KAM is a step even further – can you and your colleagues work together to develop solutions which help the client achieve their goals? So what do you need to do to get there?

  • Work as a team, pulling in the skills you need and focus on the client not on your practice
  • Understand the client and their market. What are their strengths and weaknesses and what are they seeking to achieve?
  • Identify opportunities where you can help the client
  • Talk to your client – and not just about the next job!

Who should be doing Key Account Management?

Anyone who has big clients who are serial work providers. If your clients are largely retail and/or no one client is very large then you need to understand your markets and the challenges clients face – so look to CRM and sectors. Either way, ask yourself whether you really understand the challenges your clients face and how you can help them, or whether you are seeking to tell them how good a lawyer you are.

Chris Howe is a director at Raedbora Consulting Ltd.