نگرش و رفتار مدیران حساب کاربری کلیدی: آیا آنها واقعا برای متخصصان ارشد فروش، متفاوت هستند؟
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|21545||2013||13 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||11530 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 42, Issue 6, August 2013, Pages 919–931
This study investigates the range of attitudes and behaviours exhibited by Key Account Managers (KAMs) in their roles as customer relationship managers. Specifically, we test whether KAMs exhibit different behaviours and attitudes towards relationship management compared to other sales professionals based on a range of assumptions currently theorized but untested in the Key Account Management (KAM) literature. Utilizing the existing theoretical models of a KAM role we identify six major areas of relational behaviour assumed in the literature to separate the KAM from the sales professional. Drawing on a cross sectional quantitative study of 10 organizations and 409 key account managers, sales managers, and senior sales executives we explore goal orientation, planning, customer embeddedness, strategic prioritization, adaptability and internal management behaviours of our groups and find that, in certain managerial tasks, KAMs do indeed exhibit many of the different behaviours and attitudes predicted in the literature. However, in many customer-facing, goal orientated and revenue generating activities, contrary to expectations, they display similar attitudes and behaviours to those in senior sales roles. This challenges the way that the KAM role has previously been conceptualized. Our findings raise a potential issue for senior managers, since KAMs' unexpectedly short term orientation may lead to insufficient consideration of the strategic consequences of their decisions for these key customer relationships.
Key Account Management (KAM), and its global equivalent global account management, have become increasingly important approaches for managing customers in business-to-business marketing environments (Cheverton, 2008, Guenzi et al., 2009, Guenzi et al., 2007, Ojasalo, 2001, Ojasalo, 2002, Pardo et al., 2006, Piercy and Lane, 2006a, Piercy and Lane, 2006b and Ryals and Holt, 2007). KAM is a set of processes and practices for managing business-to-business relationships that are of strategic importance to the supplier (Ewart, 1995, Homburg et al., 2002 and Millman and Wilson, 1995) and focuses on adding value to relationships, thereby creating synergistic partnerships with customers (Ewart, 1995 and Ojasalo, 2002). It has grown to become one of the most fundamental changes to the way companies organize both their sales and marketing activities (Homburg et al., 2002). Literature suggests that, amongst other process, the success of KAM is fundamentally reliant on the skills, capabilities and behaviours of the Key Account Managers (KAMs) (Guenzi et al., 2009, Iacobucci and Ostrom, 1996, Mavondo and Rodrigo, 2001 and Weitz and Bradford, 1999). Although there has been considerable discussion around the desired skills and capabilities of a key account manager (Cheverton, 2008, Platzer, 1984, Ryals and McDonald, 2008, Sengupta et al., 2000 and Wotruba and Castleberry, 1993), such research has largely overlooked the actual attitudes and behaviours of individual KAMs with a few notable exceptions (Guenzi et al., 2007, Guenzi et al., 2009, Ulaga and Sharma, 2001, Walter, 1999 and Wilson and Millman, 2003). But, this omission of consideration of attitudes and behaviours is a substantial gap in both academic research and managerial practice. Whilst skills and capabilities are important and have justly received considerable attention, attitudes and behaviours are fundamental to customer relationship success (Doney and Cannon, 1997, Foster and Cadogan, 2000 and Guenzi et al., 2009; Rackham et al., 1988 and Ryals and Davies, 2010). There are good reasons to suppose that these attitudes and behaviours are different from those expected in the traditional sales role. As long ago as 1980, David Ford argued that the relationship managers' role should be fulfilled by someone able to co-ordinate all aspects of the company's relationships with its major clients and that this was distinct from a normal sales role. Literature has subsequently identified a distinction between the activities of selling and KAM (Homburg et al., 2000, Platzer, 1984, Ryals and McDonald, 2008, Sengupta et al., 2000 and Wotruba and Castleberry, 1993), which requires a distinctive set of behaviours targeted at long term customer relationship development (Holt and McDonald, 2001, Homburg et al., 2000 and Woodburn and McDonald, 2011). Moreover, it is difficult to achieve this behavioural shift within a traditional sales force (Guenzi et al., 2007). In their extensive review of the existing literature in KAM, Guesalaga and Johnston (2010) identify ten fields of KAM research undertaken to date. Through this we can identify that operational characteristics of KAM programs, rationales for KAM adoption, critical success factors and forms of supplier–customer relationships make up the majority of KAM research. They found only nine papers focusing on the characteristics and behaviours of key account managers, none of which empirically explore whether they are different to other front line customer-facing personnel as conceptualized in the extant literature. Guesalaga and Johnston's (2010) study excluded a number of journals that have published papers on KAM. Nevertheless, the findings are supported by both our own investigation and that of Guenzi et al. (2009) who identify only a handful of studies that have investigated the individual attitudes and behaviours of KAMs. Despite a growing body of literature identifying a distinction at the organizational level between the relationship management practices of KAMs and of regular sales people, there has been no empirical attempt to test whether these normative ideals of KAMs actually exist in the attitudes and behaviours of KAMs at the individual level. In this paper we therefore explore whether, in practice, KAMs really do exhibit customer relationship management attitudes and behaviours that differ from those of other senior sales professionals. We show that KAMs do, indeed, differ noticeably in attitude and behaviour from people in middle and senior sales roles. In particular, we show that there are substantial differences with regard to three role components: Planning, Adapting to Customers, and Internal Management. These findings have implications for the recruitment and the training of KAMs. 1.1. The importance of key account managers One of the core components of virtually all KAM programs is the introduction of a new type of customer-facing individual — the key account manager (Davies and Ryals, 2009, Guenzi et al., 2009, Homburg et al., 2002 and Workman et al., 2003). The literature in this area is somewhat complicated by the number of different terms used to describe largely the same phenomenon. Early literature in the field referred to relationship managers (Ford, 1980 and Wotruba, 1996). At a similar time a body of literature on regional or national account managers emerged (Dishman and Nitze, 1998, Shapiro and Moriarty, 1980, Shapiro and Moriarty, 1982, Shapiro and Moriarty, 1984a, Shapiro and Moriarty, 1984b, Stevenson, 1980, Stevenson, 1981, Tutton, 1987, Weilbaker and Weeks, 1997 and Wotruba, 1996). These national account managers may be either independent, or may answer to higher level global account managers acting as part of a global virtual team (Wilson and Millman, 2003 and Yip and Bink, 2008). Finally there is the more recent research on key account managers, sometimes referred to as strategic account managers (Guenzi et al., 2009, Homburg et al., 2000, Homburg et al., 2002, McDonald, 2000, Millman, 1996, Millman and Wilson, 1995, Millman and Wilson, 1996, Millman and Wilson, 1998, Pardo et al., 1995, Workman et al., 2003 and Yip and Madsen, 1996). Although we use the generic term ‘KAMs’ to denote those managing the firm's most important customer relationships, we draw extensively on all these different schools of research to gain the broadest understanding of the KAMs' relationship management role. The role of the key account manager was primarily conceptualized during the 1990s and 2000s, particularly in business-to-business markets where specialized forms of managing customers have gained increasing importance (Homburg et al., 2000). However, as pointed out by Guenzi et al. (2009:300) “individual-level behaviours that should be adopted by those who are in charge of managing relationships with strategic accounts remain an under-developed topic in academic research”. In particular, detailed quantitative studies have been distinctly lacking (Sengupta et al., 2000 and Workman et al., 2003). Where research has looked at the impact of KAMs' behaviours on relationship success, it has underlined the importance of the KAMs to the overall success of a KAM program. For instance, Iacobucci and Ostrom (1996) suggest that individual-to-individual relationships are more intense and longer term than individual-to-firm relationships. Similarly, Langerak (2001) demonstrated that suppliers are dependent upon relationship manager attitudes and behaviours to develop lasting relationships with customers. These papers indicate that relationship longevity has more to do with KAM attitudes and behaviours than organizational processes. Alejandro, Souza, Boles, Ribeiro, and Monteiro (2011) found that relationship quality between customers and individual KAMs directly influences loyalty to a supplier although relationship quality with the overall company does not, indicating that KAMs who are able to build and improve relationships with key customers can have a greater impact on key measures of KAM success such as increased customer loyalty than the strategy and processes instigated at the firm level. In fact, more than customer longevity and loyalty are impacted by KAM attitudes and behaviours. Doney and Cannon (1997) found that a supplier would make faster and more confident decisions when assessing an individual as opposed to assessing an organization. Therefore, decision efficiency is also affected by the KAM's attitudes and behaviours. Latterly, Guenzi et al. (2009) found that the customer orientation of KAMs produced more synergistic problem solving with customers and overall better account performance; thus, the attitude and behaviour of the KAM clearly influences results. Yet, despite the extensive conceptual development of the need for a specialist type of sales person with a strong set of relationship management behaviours set out in previous research, there is no study to date which explores whether the people put into these specialist roles actually demonstrate the distinctive relationship management attitudes and behaviours outlined in the literature. 1.2. The attitudes and behaviours of key account managers Previous research has uncovered a link between job role, attitudes and behaviours (e.g. Abraham & Sheeran, 2003). In the KAM context, it has already been established that a firm's adoption of a relational selling strategy influences some, if not all, of a KAM's behaviours (Guenzi et al., 2007). This is important because of the impact on outcomes: Homburg, Müller, and Klarmann (2011) have recently demonstrated a link between customer orientation (attitude) and sales performance (outcome) in which behavioural differences are implicit. The literature provides an extensive list of the skills and capabilities KAMs are supposed to have, and the activities they should adopt above and beyond those of a regular sales person. Cheverton (2008), Platzer (1984), Ryals and McDonald (2008), Sengupta et al. (2000), Sherman, Sperry, and Reese (2003) and Wotruba and Castleberry (1993) identify a wide-ranging list of skills, capabilities and activities expected to be performed by KAMs, running through customer analysis, team management and leadership. Empirical papers such as Schulz and Evans (2002) and Guenzi et al. (2009) have gone on to explore the impact of customer-facing attitudes and behaviours – including collaborative communication, customer orientation, selling orientation and team selling – on customer value. A number of other authors have similarly identified a multitude of requirements for KAMs that additional to those for a sales person (including Corcoran et al., 1995, Guenzi et al., 2007, Harvey et al., 2002, Lagace et al., 1991, Leuthesser, 1997, Ojasalo, 2001, Ojasalo, 2002, Pardo et al., 2006, Piercy et al., 1997 and Piercy et al., 1998). Yet, this still leaves a gap. To date, no one has attempted to synthesize the attitudes and behaviours expected of a KAM, or to demonstrate empirically how these differ from sales. As a first step, these expected attitudes and behaviours are derivable from the skills, capabilities and activities expected of a KAM, as outlined in the literature. In Table 1 we provide a list of relationship management attitudes and behaviours derived from the literature (with definitions and sources), focusing in particular on where the literature indicates KAMs should differ from other customer-facing personnel. The attitudes and behaviours presented in Table 1 include longer-term thinking, collating and analysing, knowledge and information building, co-ordinating, relationship building, and delivery behaviours. What is lacking in the literature is a systematic interpretation of what behaviours and attitudes KAMs actually do adopt and whether this is truly distinct from other customer-facing personnel in modern relationship-orientated supplier organizations. These are important issues for practitioners because successful salespeople are the most likely to be appointed into KAM roles ( Davies & Ryals, 2009), even though the organizational requirements for KAMs would appear to be considerably different to those of traditional salespeople ( Guenzi et al., 2009, Harvey et al., 2002 and Ryals and McDonald, 2008).The issue of whether key account managers adopt relationship management attitudes and behaviours beyond those exhibited by sales-force personnel can be broken down into six main areas of behaviour drawn from the literature (Table 1), which suggests different attitudes to relationship management between sales and KAM workforces. These six areas are: 1) goal orientation, 2) customer planning, 3) customer embeddedness, 4) strategic prioritization, 5) adaption to customers and 6) internal management behaviours; we now examine each of these areas. 1.2.1. Goal orientation With regard to goal orientation, there has been considerable interest in the learning and performance goal orientations of sales professionals and the impact on sales behaviours and performance (summarized in Markose, 2011). Marshall's (1996) call for organizations to set longer-term relational goals for their sales people suggests that short-termism may be an issue in sales goals, although empirical research on this issue is lacking. However, despite the advancement of sales professionals to a longer-term relational approach (Doney and Cannon, 1997 and Foster and Cadogan, 2000), it is clear from the KAM literature that the KAMs, as the owners of the relationship with the most strategically important customers of the firm, should be considerably more long-term in their goal orientation than any other member of the customer facing personnel (Homburg et al., 2000, Millman and Wilson, 1999, Ojasalo, 2001 and Sengupta et al., 2000). Although this is explicitly identified in the literature and foundational to our understanding and definitions of KAM, no empirical work has examined whether KAMs actually do focus on longer term goals than their sales colleagues. This leads us to our first hypothesis, regarding goal orientation: H1. Key account managers have longer-term goal orientation than sales people in the same firm. 1.2.2. Customer planning behaviours Researchers into KAM have argued that the KAM role is considerably more customer-orientated than that of non-KAM sales people, with KAMs having considerably more and deeper knowledge of customer operations, culture and activity than sales people (Homburg et al., 2000, Platzer, 1984, Ryals and McDonald, 2008, Sengupta et al., 2000 and Wotruba and Castleberry, 1993). This deeper knowledge is captured through key account planning; and key account plans are emphasized by researchers as a critical component of the KAM role (e.g. Ryals and McDonald, 2008, Ryals and Rogers, 2007 and Woodburn and McDonald, 2011). Indeed, Woodburn and McDonald (2011) suggest that a KAM should spend upwards of 10% of their time in formal planning activities (although they also suggest that many may not). Whilst there is a body of empirical work which examines customer-facing behaviours based on the interaction with a customer in KAM (Alejandro et al., 2011, Guenzi et al., 2007, Guenzi et al., 2009 and Iacobucci and Ostrom, 1996), to date no-one has tested the pre-interaction phases such as planning and whether KAMs are different to sales people in their planning behaviour. Examining the sales literature, there is a view that sales people have traditionally had little, if any, interest in formal customer planning, but that this has been changing with the emergence of relationship and adaptive selling (Anderson, 1996, Marshall and Michaels, 2001, Piercy, 2006 and Rackham and DeVincentis, 1999; Spiro and Weitz, 1990, Storbacka et al., 2009, Weitz and Bradford, 1999 and Wilson, 1993). This recent shift notwithstanding, a typical sales person is widely identified as less likely to spend time on it than a KAM (Andrews and Smith, 1996, Brady, 2004, McDonald et al., 1997, Millman, 1996, Ryals and Rogers, 2007, Weitz and Bradford, 1999 and Wotruba and Castleberry, 1993). These planning activities can encompass a range of behaviours, from the identification of key accounts (Fiocca, 1982, Ojasalo, 2001 and Ryals and McDonald, 2008), through the collection and systematic analysis of market information (Millman and Wilson, 1995, Ryals and McDonald, 2008, Shi et al., 2005 and Wotruba and Castleberry, 1993) to a formal planning process where customers and suppliers develop a shared strategy (Harvey et al., 2002, Homburg et al., 2000, Lindgreen et al., 2006 and Ryals and McDonald, 2008) and implementation plans (Harvey et al., 2002, Shi et al., 2005 and Wotruba and Castleberry, 1993). Despite the growth of relationship selling, it is clear that the attitudes and behaviours needed by KAMs towards planning far outweigh those required in regular sales force personnel. Thus: H2. Key account managers exhibit a greater propensity towards strategic planning than sales people. 1.2.3. Customer embeddedness Detailed planning requires a deep knowledge of the customer, and this is linked to customer embeddedness (closeness, and having a range of contacts in different parts of the customer). The literature suggests that key account managers should embed themselves within a dense network of contacts within a customer's business (Colletti and Tubridy, 1987, Guenzi et al., 2007, Harvey et al., 2002, Menon et al., 1997 and Shi et al., 2005) to the extent that they build good relationships at many levels between the two organizations, that even function without the KAM present (Harvey et al., 2002, Menon et al., 1997 and Shi et al., 2005). This is in contrast to the salesperson who focuses on a more limited range of customer contacts in an effort to save both time and cost (Weitz & Bradford, 1999). In part, this difference is explained by the ability of the KAM to dedicate more time to a single customer. However, KAMs should also be willing to use their wider array of contacts to develop deep and insightful knowledge about the customers' business and culture, allowing them to manage the future of both businesses (Boles and Johnston, 1999, Brady, 2004, Lindgreen et al., 2006, McDonald et al., 1997, Millman and Wilson, 1999, Ojasalo, 2001, Shi et al., 2005, Weitz and Bradford, 1999 and Wotruba and Castleberry, 1993). This enables KAMs to receive and analyse information from a broad range of contacts when developing their customer understanding, so that they have less reliance on intuition and more reliance on their embedded network than their sales counterparts (Homburg et al., 2002, Millman, 1999a, Millman, 1999b, Millman and Wilson, 1999 and Wilson and Millman, 2003). Thus: H3. Key account managers have a higher focus on embedding themselves within the customers' network than sales people. 1.2.4. Strategic prioritization Dense networks of contacts and intensive planning are futile unless they go on to inform better decision making (Piercy, 1997). It is therefore important for KAMs to utilize their deep understanding of the customer to develop a shared vision with the customer about the future direction of the relationship (Brady, 2004, Harvey et al., 2002, Homburg et al., 2000, Lindgreen et al., 2006 and Weitz and Bradford, 1999). Accordingly, the KAM should accept responsibility for the entire lifespan of the customer, not simply the sales aspects or current projects in hand (Boles and Johnston, 1999 and Homburg et al., 2000). This requires KAMs to prioritize the work they do with a customer to ensure it is strategically aligned with the long term relationship plan (Campbell and Cunningham, 1983, Guenzi et al., 2007, Guenzi et al., 2009, Homburg et al., 2000, Krapfel et al., 1991, Ojasalo, 2001 and Ojasalo, 2002). Although still of some importance in sales roles, it is less usual for a sales person to project-manage delivery of value in this way (Rackham and DeVincentis, 1999 and Storbacka et al., 2009). It is also less likely that sales people would invest the time into creating shared vision or elect to bid preferentially only for the strategically-aligned pieces of work available within a customer (Marshall and Michaels, 2001 and Piercy, 2006), a strategic prioritization activity which should be of fundamental importance to a KAM (Guenzi et al., 2007, Guenzi et al., 2009, Homburg et al., 2000 and Krapfel et al., 1991). Thus, our fourth hypothesis: H4. Key account managers are more strategic in their prioritization of activities with a customer than sales people. 1.2.5. Adaptability to customer culture Homburg et al. (2002) suggest that KAMs should be attuned to the political and cultural issues within a customer so as to be able to adapt their management approach and value delivery to provide optimum synergy with that customer. This involves understanding the customer's corporate culture and how they do business (Homburg et al., 2002, Millman, 1999a, Millman, 1999b, Millman and Wilson, 1999 and Wilson and Millman, 2003), being able to adapt to the many and varied levels at which the KAM must act within the customer (Colletti and Tubridy, 1987, Guenzi et al., 2007, Harvey et al., 2002, Menon et al., 1997, Shi et al., 2005 and Weitz and Bradford, 1999) and adapting their communication approach to suit these different audiences (Boles and Johnston, 1999 and Homburg et al., 2000). These behaviours are important in developing the customer's trust in the KAM to see them as a trusted customer advocate back into the supplier company (Millman, 1996 and Piercy, 2010). Although similar behaviours may benefit sales personnel, they are less likely to act as a customer advocate or work as closely inside the customer organization as the KAM. This is an area which again lacks empirical investigation. Thus: H5. Key account managers are more adaptable to customer culture than sales personnel. 1.2.6. Internal management behaviours A further divergence between the KAM and the selling role is the frequent requirement for KAMs to progress relationships into new areas through joint investment and co-creation of offerings, resulting in a major internal management role (Cheverton, 2008, Davies and Ryals, 2009, Homburg et al., 2000 and Sengupta et al., 2000). Whereas sales people are largely viewed as focusing on the external customer interface as a channel of distribution (Jackson et al., 1994 and Leigh and Marshall, 2001), KAMs are viewed as a two-way interface representing the customer into their own organization as well as their own organization into the customer (Gardner et al., 1998, Pelham, 2006, Sengupta et al., 1997, Sengupta et al., 2000 and Workman et al., 2003). Through this two-way interface they are both major customizers of the supplier's existing portfolio of offerings, and also represent the hub through which joint product/service development and joint investment can occur. In this internal management role they are supported by cross functional teams including operations, finance, logistics, and other functional groups (Barrett, 1986 and Woodburn and McDonald, 2011). Guenzi et al. (2007) identify KAM as encompassing many team-selling activities, which require a distinct set of attitudes and behaviours for KAMs. Similarly, authors such as Cheverton (2008), Wotruba and Castleberry (1993) and Weitz and Bradford (1999) identify the KAM's role as characterized by team management activities. Teams are common in KAM because the selling process usually goes beyond the capabilities of any one individual (Guenzi et al., 2007 and Workman et al., 2003). As a result, KAMs have to progress beyond the traditional “lone wolf” sales orientation and learn to manage teams and co-ordinate cross-functional activities (Weitz & Bradford, 1999). This is viewed in the literature as distinct from a sales or area management role in a traditional sales force (Guenzi et al., 2007 and Homburg et al., 2002) but has not, to date, been tested through academic research. Thus: H6. Key account managers exhibit greater attitudes and behaviours directed towards cross functional management and internal team management compared to sales personnel. In the next section we outline our methodological approach to answering these important questions.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Many authors have explored the rise of KAM, and especially in the context of this paper the role of KAMs (Guenzi et al., 2007, Guenzi et al., 2009, Harvey et al., 2002, Holt, 2003, Holt and McDonald, 2001, Ojasalo, 2001, Ojasalo, 2002, Pardo et al., 2006, Piercy et al., 1997, Piercy et al., 1998 and Wotruba, 1996). This paper contributes to this literature by demonstrating for the first time that there is a perceptible difference between KAMs and Sales in how they approach their roles. This contribution therefore has two facets: firstly we can demonstrate that the elements of the KAMs roles around Internal Management, Adaptability to Customers and Planning do indeed signify an alternative role to traditional sales. However they also suggest that there are many issues such as Goal Orientation, Network Embeddedness and Strategic Priorities for which senior sales people are also presenting attitudes very similar to KAMs. This finding may support the growing literature on the changing role of sales (Biong and Selnes, 1995, McDonald et al., 1997, Piercy et al., 1997, Piercy et al., 1998, Weitz and Bradford, 1999 and Wotruba, 1996) and that indeed traditional sales are also undertaking many of the facets of relationship management as they look to a longer, medium-term timeframe and accept the importance of embedding themselves with the customer. Just as interesting is the areas in which the KAMs are not different to sales. It is particularly worrying that KAMs prefer not to take longer term responsibility for the project management and delivery of after-sales service and their Goal Orientation is no longer-term than that of field sales operatives. Another possible area of concern revolves around the priorities in bidding for new work. Wilson (1996) showed that many companies lost money on their biggest customers and Homburg et al. (2000) and Ojasalo, 2001 and Ojasalo, 2002 identified an important role for KAMs in prioritizing what projects they bid for to ensure strategic alignment with the suppliers' relationship strategy. The KAMs in our study prefer to bid for all projects in a customer, regardless of the strategic fit or profit potential, as demonstrated through the ‘priorities: bidding for new business’ measure. This could prove very costly to the supplier if uncontrolled. They are also prone to ignore the implementation plans they develop through their planning process. 5.1. Managerial contribution This paper has already contributed to the managerial understanding of the attitudes and beliefs of all ten companies involved in the research. In each case it highlighted problem areas in both existing rewards and training systems which the companies have been able to address as a result of this study. More broadly however our research raises the importance of looking beyond the more obvious elements of KAM programs – such as appointing KAMs, training and account planning – into the structures, process and procedures that can really make a difference to KAM success. Too many companies still treat KAM as a sales initiative, whereas in reality it is more of a business-wide change management program. As a change management program the requirement for cross-functional control, project teams, new global power structure and new rewards systems can be substantial. What this research demonstrates is that even companies five or more years into their KAM programs are still struggling with structural and process barriers such as compensation systems and short-termism. We have shown that attitudes and behaviours in KAM and sales roles differ in a number of respects but not in all; there are some important areas where the hypothesized differences were not found. This might be caused by companies failing to specify the KAM role accurately; or because they did not recruit the right people into the KAM role, or train them appropriately. Thus, our findings raise the difficult issue of whether or not sales people are the best people to fill KAM roles. Previous research has pointed out that the traditional sales culture, with its expectation of volume bonuses and short-termism, might not be an ideal recruiting ground for KAMs. Our research provides support for the notion that the attitudes and behaviours of KAMs are different from those of sales people. However, given that some of the differences were in an unexpected direction, our research also raises the possibility that sales people and sales managers might make good KAMs if their attitudes and behaviours could be appropriately adjusted. More research would be needed into whether this is achievable and economically viable as a business solution to the problem of recruiting KAMs. 5.2. Limitations One of the limitations of this study, as reported in the methodology section, is the use of self-reported behavioural data. Whilst this is a widely-used method with many advantages, it does mean that our findings should be view as indicative behaviour rather than actual behaviour. Future research might use a dyadic or 360° approach to assist in correcting for bias, although it would make a large sample difficult to attain. Nor have we been able to identify whether any industry factors or individual organizational management factors differentiate KAMs behaviours, since the limited number of KAMs in each company made this statistically inappropriate (although anecdotally we found some minor divergence). This is likely to be an ongoing issue in KAM research, since by definition KAM relationships are not numerous in any organization (Guenzi et al., 2009). Whilst we opted for a single company from a number of industries, giving us broader coverage and enabling high numbers of KAM respondents to support our theory development, future research may attempt to gain access to multiple companies in a small number of industries and thereby explore the industry-specific context of the KAM role. We only utilized 10 organizations in this study due to the difficulty of recruiting suitable large organizations with longstanding KAM programs. Whilst our highly-specific sample of ten organizations does provide somewhat greater generalizability than the single case studies used in much KAM research, as a sample it is vulnerable to data skew caused by 1 or 2 companies with different management practices. The follow-up meetings with the respondent organizations did not reveal any major differences, although future researchers may want to test our findings using smaller in-company samples but over a much broader range of industries. A broader industry approach would improve generalizability, although at the expense of specificity. Another limitation of this research is that we have focused on the attitudes and behaviours of KAMs and not looked at the knowledge, skills and abilities that might affect those behaviours (Weitz & Bradford, 1999). Future research could develop a conceptual model of the influence of the attitudes on the behaviours of the KAMs and sales people, exploring whether the paths linking attitudes to behaviours in the two sub-samples are statistically different.