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Top Managers’ Role In Key Account Management

Giancarlo Pereira, Nektarios Tzempelikos, Luiz Reni Trento, Carlos Renato Trento, Miriam Borchardt, Claudia Viviane Viegas

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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore top managers’ role in key account management. Design/methodology/approach The possible actions that could be performed by a top manager were investigated in 12 case studies. These actions were grouped into key account managers and teams, culture, engagement and knowledge, organizational structure/conditions and customers and markets. Findings Top managers (TMs) informally evaluate teams and key account (KA) managers, stimulate a culture that favors the information’s prospection, persuade managers to reduce their resistance and improve organizational structure/conditions by inducing internal and external questioning. They also contact key customers’ top managers to check on the changes required or to persuade them to change requirements, accept a higher price or redirect an unattractive order to competitors. They approve revisions on the key customers list, discuss with the key account manager how to redirect an unattractive opportunity to competitors and try to improve gains even in attractive orders. Research limitations/implications Additional research beyond the provided exploratory study is needed to generalize the results. The findings contribute to improving the understanding of how TMs get involved in key account management, buyer–supplier relationship improvement and increasing company profitability. They also unveil top managers’ role in internal culture creation and team engagement. Originality/value When managing their KAs, TMs seem to be sceptical, curious and pragmatic with their subordinates, as well as with the customers or competitors.