Founded in 1964, Strategic Account Management Association (SAMA) is a unique non-profit association focused solely on helping to establish strategic, key and global account management as a separate profession, career path and proven corporate strategy for growth. With more than 8,000 members worldwide, SAMA offers numerous training, professional development and networking events throughout North America and Europe each year in addition to research, publications and other knowledge resources.
Strategic Account Management (SAM) is a company-wide initiative in complex, highly matrixed organizations which focuses on building strong and mutually beneficial relationships with a company's most important customers and partners.
Effective SAM programs create customer loyalty, stimulate growth, enhance profitability, and lead to innovative service delivery. Implementing a successful program requires a firm commitment from senior management to ensure the necessary corporate and organizational shift has time to germinate within the company.
“Strategic accounts” are, or are expected to become, a company’s largest, most strategic partnership prone customers. Identifying appropriate strategic accounts is crucial to implementing a successful SAM program. Factors influencing the selection process include the customer’s strategic direction, geographic presence, financial viability, cultural fit, and management philosophy. Once strategic accounts are identified, account teams must be established to support the relationship.
At the center of the account team is the strategic account manager. The strategic account manager must be a dynamic LEADER who can comfortably serve as the central point of contact for the customer’s executives and stakeholders. The job of a strategic account manager is to develop and sustain a long-term strategic customer relationship for mutual growth, profitability, trust, loyalty, and innovation. The strategic account manager must leverage the company's enterprise resources and capabilities in creating and fulfilling value-based solutions, to meet both the customer's and company's current requirements and expectations as well as future potential.
Strategic customer management does not rest exclusively on the talent of the strategic account manager. The whole organization has a significant role to play to facilitate and support the SAM process and hence to obtain superior business results.
Understanding the characteristics of strategic accounts and the function of the strategic account manager is critical to implementing a successful SAM program within an organization. At SAMA, our mission is to gather and disseminate SAM program best practices to enable our members and corporate member companies to achieve their goals.