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Relational key account management : building a competitive advantage through structural reformations and relationship management skills

Gounaris, Spiros and Tzempelikos, Nektarios (2014) Relational key account management : building a competitive advantage through structural reformations and relationship management skills. Industrial Marketing Management, 43 (7). pp. 1110-1123. ISSN 0019-8501

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Abstract

Literature has widely recognised the importance of key account management (KAM) in building long-term customer relationships. Although KAM grounds significantly on the relationship marketing theory, most empirical studies focus on the financial impact a KAM programme can produce. Hence, only normative work can advise practitioners on the implications from adopting a relational approach in managing their business with customers who can help the supplier realise a broader set of strategic objectives. Drawing from 304 cases of different suppliers, this article seeks to start filling this gap in the literature and offer empirical evidence regarding the structural and relational implications from a KAM programme. In summary, the findings suggest that adopting a relational perspective through the development of key account management orientation (KAMO) will result in certain, necessary, structural reformation while allowing for specific relational skills to develop. Consequently, supplier's performance also improves. Moreover, this chain of effects remains strong independently of resources available to the supplier, suggesting that KAM can be a significant basis for developing a competitive advantage irrespectively of the supplier's size.