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Motivating, incentivizing and rewarding for Key Account Management

By Professor Javier Marcos-Cuevas


How do you incentivise and support the roll out of key account management programmes? When implementing key account management (KAM), thought needs to be given to the question of how to incentivize and support the roll out of all key account management programs.

Some of the key questions to address are outlined here: 

  1. What are the motivating factors that make a difference for key account managers? 

What we find in our research and in our practice is that there are factors that we would classify as extrinsic. This is no different from sales but there's a wide range of intrinsic factors that make a difference. 

  1. What should the size of incentive be, relative to total pay for key account managers? 

It is believed that the proportion is different from those in sales roles and therefore, the basic salary tends to be larger in proportion. 

  1. What should be the frequency of variable payments?

We often find bonuses awarded at the end of the year, but we believe that the period of creating value with the strategic customers may well be beyond one year which suggests rethinking that time frame. 

  1. How do you determine the right level of pay for key account managers? 

We need to consider the possibility that is not just pay but all the factors that really drive and really motivate people to achieve more and to create value on a sustainable basis. 

Want to find out more? Motivating, incentivizing and rewarding for KAM is covered in more detail in the Kogan Page book Implementing Key Account Management. Take a look to see how supplier companies can motivate, incentivise and reward their key account managers. 

Our work in this area is critical to achieving successful key account management programs for organisations looking to succeed at managing key account customers. For the past twenty years, Cranfield has pioneered the development of Key Account Management research in Europe. Working with world leading businesses to adopt new frameworks to fully leverage key relationships and strategies. This new frontier knowledge is continually integrated into our Key Account Management Programme.


Blog produced by: Dr. Javier Marcos, Programme Director of Sales Directors Programme and faculty on the Key Account Management Programme at Cranfield School of Management.

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Key Account Management Programme


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