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Foreword - Pg. ix

ix FoReWoRD ood books on Key Account Management are rare. One of the reasons for this lies in the past, in the way that Key Account Management (KAM) has been defined and described. The past 40 years have been characterized by a view that KAM is mainly a selling task, albeit at a high level, and that the responsibility for its implementation rests almost entirely with the sales team. Yet all our research at Cranfield School of Management indicates that, above all else, it is this mentality that prevents the forging of mature, trustworthy and profitable relationships. Key Account Management is not a sales initiative, it is not something you do to customers, and key account strategies will require the full support of the business. Key Account Management is a team effort and, more than that, it is a business-wide effort. Our research has shown repeatedly that major clients want more than a sales­ buyer interface and they want more than a traditional salesperson managing the relationship. If suppliers and customers are to forge significant relationships, as businesses, then both sides must look to new ways of managing those relationships. Relationships are at the very heart of KAM. They provide the source of information and understanding that can be built into added-value activities. They also provide the foundations for long-term business based on mutual trust and confidence. If you care about customer retention then you should care about KAM. So let's escape the trap of the last 40 years ­ KAM is not something we do to customers, it is something we do with customers, and perhaps the greatest single motivation for developing Key Account Strategies is that the customer is looking for new ways of working alongside key suppliers. Purchasing organizations are looking more and more to the techniques of supply chain management as a means of prioritizing and managing relationships with significant suppliers. Those suppliers must respond with customer-sensitive strategies that will touch on everything from the people involved to the systems and processes used, and even to the structure and organization of the supplier's business. Key Account Management provides the strategic base, the processes and the disciplines to handle this situation, alongside those other common challenges ­ globalization, market maturity and customer power. The purpose is clear: the pursuit of competitive advantage. The days are long gone when major customers would tolerate average, overpriced products and services. Being a `pimply me too' just won't work any more. Competitive advantage puts you in a position to succeed, but there is more that you need to do. There is the question of profit. Most companies, if they are honest, are not able to measure the profitability of their key accounts. Many companies, once they determine to measure these things, often find their largest customers to be their least profitable. Very few companies measure the long-term returns of customer retention ­ annual results are often all that count. Key Account Management should G