Linking key account management practices to performance outcomes

Tzempelikos, Nektarios and Gounaris, Spiros (2015) Linking key account management practices to performance outcomes. Industrial Marketing Management, 45. pp. 22-34. ISSN 0019-8501 (

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Many suppliers practise relational strategies that aim to achieve competitive advantage through a collaborative business relationship with their customers. Key account management (KAM) is one such relational strategy suppliers rely upon to manage their relationships with strategically important customers. Yet suppliers still struggle to put such programs into practice effectively, most likely because academic investigation has yet to report on what actions explain the performance of KAM initiatives. Aiming to fill this gap, we first identify a set of key KAM practices at the strategic, organizational, tactical and control levels of management. Next, we examine how these practices explain the performance of KAM through the mediating effect of the supplier’s relational capabilities and the relational outputs such capabilities produce. The results provide support for most of the hypothesized relationships, showing that the identified practices positively affect performance and dyadic outcomes through the mediation coming from the variables examined. From a theoretical perspective, the study adds to our understanding of the factors underlying effective KAM practices. From a managerial perspective, the results provide insights into how suppliers can achieve KAM effectiveness through relationship-oriented activities, skills and outcomes.