SAM, as Strategic Account Management is often called, is very often misunderstood to an extent that it becomes important for us to talk about it every now and then. Such is the criticality of this concept called SAM that we cannot afford to ignore it.
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.
So here we are, with SAM again. Let’s go busting certain myths about SAM, one by one.
- The first thing we need to know about SAM is that it is not just an elite organization’s hobby or interest or vanity for that matter. Most people and most salespeople think and believe that SAM is only for the top-notch, revenue earning monstrous sized conglomerates. Which is not the case. It is not a concept or a practice reserved for the elite few, it is for everyone, every organization that has certain important accounts, we call as Strategic Accounts. SAM is not defined by the size of the organization, big or small customer, or its strength of people. It is defined by the criticality of the Account, the value of that account in the organization’s portfolio. The potential of that Account is the most important determinant.
- SAM is part of the larger business strategy and not a selling practice. This part needs to be weighed in a proper light. SAM is a strategy; it belongs to Account Management and not sales. It has a different methodology to it; there is more of prospect nurturing to SAM than the classic way ‘selling’ happens. There is a different team that looks aft SAM. This team needs to be hired differently, trained differently and evaluated in a different manner.
- SAM is not too expensive, time-consuming or complicated. It is simply working on a different plane than the Sales plane. It is more about co-creation, collaboration, and value creation – with the customer and for the customer. The focus of SAM is on winning through relationship building, lead nurturing and becoming a true partner, the customer’s trusted advisor. As against sales, which is more transactional in nature.
SAM works on addressing the looming danger that every organization faces, of its products becoming commodities. SAM helps in creating key differentiators in value to the customer and hence leads to better Key Account Management. And better Key Account Management leads to revenue growth.
Just because SAM is not easily understood, organizations typically shoo it away not knowing that they are shooing away a huge opportunity in creating value for their own organizations as well.
But all hope is not lost. To truly understand what SAM is, we urge you to look at SAMA. SAMA (Strategic Account Management Association) is a non-profit, 8,000-member organization that can help your company determine whether SAM is the right direction, and help you in your efforts to implement and maintain a successful SAM initiative. SAMA’s mission is to “establish the strategic, key, and global account management as a separate profession, career path, and proven corporate strategy for growth.” Strategic Account Management Association is a knowledge exchange base, an extensive network of experts and practitioners focused solely on the area of strategic account management.
Before you shrug SAM away, do visit SAMA (http://www.strategicaccounts.org/)