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A new global survey that we have conducted exploring how professional services firms manage their key clients has highlighted how law firms have been late to adopt key account management (KAM), with many only doing so in the face of recessionary pressures post-2008.
KAM in the PSF Sector reveals that most law firms have only been pursuing key account management since the onset of the financial crisis, with 74% of respondents from this sector whose firms have such a programme saying that these have been in place for less than 5 years. By contrast, 43% of those from accountancy-based firms reported that their programmes had been in place for longer than 5 years.
In the middle of a recession, management’s first objective should be to protect and secure their firm’s existing client base and many rightly saw KAM as the way to do this. As growth returns to legal markets, the challenge now is to use KAM as a driver of practice growth and as a way to differentiate your firm’s service offering, especially when operating globally to service international clients.
The survey highlighted that the biggest challenge in doing this will be to get a stronger link between Client Partner remuneration and the delivery of client-specific targets. More than half (55%) of law firm respondents reported that currently there is no such link in their firm.
Client Partners will not work hard to “cross-sell” their colleagues into the client if it is their colleagues who benefit from the extra billings and they get no credit for this when their own remuneration is calculated. Without this clear link and on the basis of “what gets measured gets done”, Client Partners will be primarily engaged in activities which result in billings for themselves and their group. Until firm wide billings, and other client-specific targets, for a key client count more towards a Client Partner’s remuneration than his/her personal billings, firms will not get the shift towards the more client-centric behaviour that is needed for KAM to be a success.
The full survey can be accessed here.
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