What is Strategic Account Management?
The strategic account management process is about building value-driven relationships with your key customers. It is a synonym of Key Account Management. The strategic account manager’s role is to identify those key customers that generate maximum revenue and profitability as compared to other regular accounts. These managers act as a bridge between the company and stakeholders at the customer side. The idea is to increase customer lifecycle value by starting small like with a free trial or test project, adding value and building trust.
We believe the effectiveness of the strategic account management plan depends upon selecting the account managers with key skills and following the best strategic account management process discussed below.
What are the Key Skills that Account Managers must develop for implementing right key account management strategy?
- Leadership Skills: A strategic account manager is a bridge between the sales team, a team of account managers and customer team. He has to lead from the front, take risks and create a win-win for both sides. A leader is required to set the right vision for the team and design the strategic plan for customer success. An account manager has to be a good listener, able to understand the needs and desires of the people across the team.
- Communication Skills: There are so many moving parts and people involved in a strategic account, that its success is impossible without clear communication. Maintaining transparency within the business ecosystem and coordinating with C-suite executives requires excellent communication skills. SAMs can use org chart software to determine the hierarchy of the account and communicate accordingly with different levels.
- Long Term Strategy Skills: It’s important for strategic account managers to subordinate a desire for a quick win for long term success. With SaaS technology companies on the rise the strategy of land and expand is on the rise. The idea is to start small like a free trial, have a foot in the door with the key accounts and expand your network within the account across departments.
- Technical Skills: It’s critical to know about your product and services before you take up the position of strategic account management. It’s important to add value at the right time and the right place to win big deals. You can only value when you are technically equipped with skills pertaining to your offerings.
- Analytical Skills: An account manager specializing in key accounts is required to work on various activities like account segmentation that is to understand the relationship health of the key accounts and avoid any setbacks. An analysis is required at every step to take key decisions for real customer success.
Strategic Account Managers vs Traditional Account Managers:
Most of the organizations have existing account managers who have skills and are either been trained or are naturally talented in the art of Strategic Account Management platform. However, there are some big differences between the principles of a Strategic Account Manager and traditional account manager in many organizations. Strategic Account Manager plays a key role in a company using SAM processes and techniques. They are the contact people for the Strategic Accounts and are responsible for developing and maintaining a long-term relationship with the key customer.
That is the reason, why managing Strategic Accounts is not every account manager’s cup of tea. An organization is supposed to have a clear-cut understanding of how it wants to manage its strategic accounts, in order to yield the best results.
SAMA Strategic Account Management Program:
The Strategic Account Management Association (SAMA) exposes companies around the globe to tools, methods and processes that enable them to forge closer relationships with their most strategic customers and co-create new sources of sustainable, customer-driven growth. SAMA’s Certified Strategic Account Manager (CSAM) certification is the gold standard of strategic account management. It is recognized and demanded by organizations worldwide.