Key Account Management

Kevin O’Shannessy of Synergy Consumer shares his expert insights.

Here are some insights from various industry leaders on how Key Account Managers (KAM) can make a real difference to not only the success of the organisation that they represent but also the retailer that they work with.

It’s no secret that sometimes a KAM role within the grocery trade is a healthy challenge. I know, I’ve been in the role and had the exposure to some of the not-so-pleasant meetings and tasks that these roles are famous for. Be encouraged that our industry is evolving and therefore the classic KAM role is evolving too.

As we are all aware, New Zealand leads the world in some great and not so great things. Having more products sold on promotion than any other country is possibly not so cool. I believe this a symptom of an industry accepting the focus on price and promotion most of the time is what our KAM’s need to do. However, this world leading statistic needs to change and KAM’s can play a key part.

Walk the walk

Build authentic relationships and do what you say you’ll do. Yes, back to basics – but don’t underestimate how much you’d stand out if you practiced this rule consistently. You’d probably be surprised how much this approach would improve your business results too.

Spend time with an expert to train you in areas outside of just pricing and a promotional calendar. If that expert is your leader, great. If you feel that you could benefit from extra training, ask the question. A sales leader in the FMCG industry who has had some FMCG exposure in Australia, UK or the US could really accelerate your development. Become more commercially astute.

Treat the store relationships and the link between them and the retailer head office just as important as each other. Success comes when your great head office ideas are executed well within the store. Yes, that’s incredibly important with the independents but how often are Countdown stores the gap that takes a KAM from good to great. The culture of fear is probably not spoken about much. KAM’s stick to the highly administrative demands of promotions and deals as they don’t want to rock the price and promotion boat! Make time to think about how they can genuinely help grow a category. Put aside time specifically with the retailer not to talk about price. You’ll be surprised how responsive the retailer will be and the variety will make your role far more interesting.

There is a limit to the words I can write in this article… if you’ve got to this point, take this message away: As a KAM take responsibility for your development. There has never been a better time to challenge the status quo and be a pioneer.