Sales and Marketing Employment Insights – Key Account Manager

Hunter Campbell’s Sales and Marketing Insights Series offers a comprehensive look into roles within the sector. Leveraging our specialised Sales and Marketing recruitment market knowledge, we provide valuable insights into the roles currently in demand, shedding light on market trends, salaries, and sought-after skills.

In today’s article, Rose Buffalo-Snell, Consultant at Hunter Campbell shares her expertise on the role of Key Account Manager, a role entrusted with cultivating and nurturing strategic relationships with the largest and most valuable clients. This article explores the responsibilities and differentiators from roles such as Account Manager and Sales Executive.

What does a Key Account Manager do?
Key Account Managers are essential for fostering robust client relationships and driving long-term revenue growth, with their role responsibilities including:

  • Client relationship management: Cultivating enduring partnerships with the largest accounts in the business, characterised by high spend and strategic importance
  • Promotional strategy: Crafting and executing promotional strategies tailored to key accounts to maximize brand visibility and sell-through
  • New product development (NPD): Spearheading the launch of new products and lines within key accounts, ensuring seamless integration and market penetration
  • Product and category range reviews: Conducting comprehensive reviews of product and category ranges within the FMCG and retail sectors
  • Upselling: Identifying opportunities for upselling additional products or services to existing key accounts
  • Problem solving and retention: Addressing challenges proactively and implementing retention strategies to safeguard key account relationships

Differentiation between Account Manager and Sales Executive
Account Managers typically manage a larger number of accounts with smaller spend, often focusing on small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) business-to-business (B2B) accounts.  Key Account Managers concentrate on nurturing strategic relationships, often with fewer high-value clients. Sales Executives, on the other hand, tend to engage in smaller, one-off deals aimed at building smaller accounts for the business.  They’re also potentially on the road more often balancing relationship management and new business development.


Reporting Structure
Key Account Managers typically report to senior sales leadership roles such as Head of Sales, National Sales Manager or National Business Managers and are typically evaluated based on Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and customer testimonials.

Typical KPI’s
KPI’s for Key Account Managers may include metrics such as client visits, revenue targets, retention of key accounts, uplift in category/product ranging and spend, performance on NPD launches, and the acquisition of new accounts.

 Transferability of skills across industries
Skills crucial for success as a Key Account Manager transcend industry boundaries and include:

  • resilience
  • a growth mindset
  • relationship-building
  • forecasting and budgeting abilities
  • competitor and market knowledge
  • stakeholder management
  • outstanding communication skills
  • proficiency in digital tools and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, data-driven sales analysis capabilities
  • commercial negotiation skills
  • problem-solving aptitude
  • project management proficiency
  • the ability to measure and report on performance and ROI.

One of the most sort of after skills in the current market is business development. This skill goes beyond hunting for new business and extends into long-term relationship-building and partnership mentality, requiring a brave and respectful communication style.

While these KAM skills transcend industries typically KAM’s will have a specific channel they are focussed on enabling them to establish strong and deep networks. This also enables them to become true specialists in specific industries so they can understand customer needs.

Within FMCG, these channels are typically: Pharmacy, Grocery, HoReCa (Hotels, Restaurants, Cafes) Convenience and Alternative, On and Off premise for the beverage industry and of course, the export channel. For the industrial sector, these can be distributors and retail, small regional dealers, e-commerce etc. And for the Services space, selling solutions, this usually is less specific to channel as B2B customers tend to be segmented in terms of size small, medium to large enterprises.

Key skills and qualifications required
Practical experience and industry-specific knowledge often outweigh traditional qualifications such as certifications or formal training. For instance: In a role like Business Development Manager (BDM) within a company with a smaller sales team closely involved in project delivery, practical experience with the product and industry may be prioritised over formal qualifications.

If the product is technically complex, clients may prefer candidates with substantial qualifications such as an Engineering degree or practical experience as a tradesperson.

In a BDM role within a specialised marketing agency focusing on SEO/SEM/CRO, clients may prioritise candidates with a background in digital marketing and a track record of hands-on experience in tracking digital marketing metrics.

The client may have a non-negotiable requirement for the BDM to possess the skillset relevant to the services provided by the agency, such as SEO/SEM/CRO expertise, and preferably a background in these areas before transitioning into a sales role.

Softer skills needed for success
Soft skills essential for success in the role encompass presentation skills (both internally and externally), a mindset conducive to partnership-building, diligence, trustworthiness, and a supportive approach towards core clients.

Paths of progression to role
Progression to the role of Key Account Manager often follows a career trajectory starting from roles such as Junior Sales Executive or Sales Executive, advancing to positions like Account Executive, Account Manager, and culminating in the role of Key Account Manager.

Salary Guide and Package Structure
Key Account Managers typically command base salaries ranging from $100,000 to $130,000, supplemented by benefits such as a company car or car allowance, performance-based incentives (Short-Term Incentives or Long-Term Incentives), tools of trade (laptop and phone), and company benefits like flexible working arrangements/policies, health insurance, additional leave, KiwiSaver, and partnership discounts.

Recent roles placed by Hunter Campbell

  • Revolution Beauty- Senior Key Account Manager
  • Kerry Ingredients -Key Account Manager
  • Givaudan- Key Account Manager
  • Kotahi Logistics- Key Account Manager
  • Diplomat- Key Account Manager
  • Beiersdorf- National Account Manager
  • Glow Lab NZ – National Account Manager
  • McAlpine Hussman – Account Manager
  • Brown Brothers Engineers – Senior Account Manager
  • UCC Coffee- National Account Manager
  • Hydroxsys – Key Account Manager

Recruitment Forecast and Career Prospects
Typically responsible for the most important customers and a significant portion of a company’s revenue, Key Account Managers will always be sought after.  NZ businesses are focusing on retaining strong Key Account Managers in 2024 with salary increases to be expected and incentive schemes to have more clarity as the economic state improves.  Skills-based hiring in this space is expected to lift with less emphasis on direct industry or channel experience.

If you are looking to hire a Key Account Manager, or looking for your next opportunity in this space, get in touch with Rose to chat through these insights and available opportunities.

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