Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | By: Matt Micou
We asked this question to presenters at our upcoming 2012 Annual Conference. While there were many answers, lack of senior-level engagement definitely stood out as the top reason for SAM program failure.
Stephen D. Smith, Associate Director, Global OCEO Client Program, Global Clients & Industries, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited:
Executive alignment, clearly defined goals, and very specific tangible accountabilities are three critical elements of GAM program success.
Rosemary Heneghan, Director, International Sales & Operations, Worldwide, IBM:
Lack of senior executive commitment and focus on short-term results. If it is not a business priority, it will not be successful as it is a long-term investment and cannot be compared to short-term initiatives.
Tim Harford, SVP and Global Industry Head Technology Sector, DHL:
Often they fail because the objectives and measures of value creation (for both the provider and the customer) have not been clearly defined or the program is not linked to the overall strategy of the company.
Al Kamczyc, Corporate Account Manager, Siemens:
Programs falter when a supplier looks at SAM as a "cost." Successful companies measure growth, and show how it is a necessity for year after year market share maintenance and gain. Without a proper perspective and ability to measure results, many programs run blind to this benefit and are viewed as cost.
Hajo Rapp, VP, Account Management, & Market Development, Siemens:
Most important is a sustainable support by a Top Management that knows the story and ideally has an own experience in KAM.
Michael Stevens, Partner, Performance Methods, Inc.:
SAM (or KAM) Programs are constantly challenged for effectiveness, return on investment and impact. These initiatives usually require a change in management organization and strategy for a focused and effective Account Management program, and that focus isn’t always in the traditional ‘comfort zone’ of organizational structure. Therefore, there is more expectation-setting and ‘inspection.’ This can be a good thing or a bad thing! Programs falter when there is a not a clear line-of-sight to company strategy, and, therefore, no linkage to SAM/KAM ‘relevance.’ One of the biggest reasons SAM or KAM programs falter, or even fail, is due to a lack of senior management commitment and engagement. No matter how many program elements you define for an effective SAM Program, one of the most important is right at the front end and that continues throughout the life and cycles of a SAM or KAM program, and that is senior management commitment. Having the right motivated people with the right skill sets and in the right position is another critical element for success or failure.
Mario Rieth, Head of Global Account Office, Avaya:
Mainly the lack of understanding what the difference between local/national account management AND global account management is together with the fact that most GAMs are just upgraded AMs instead of really skilled senior business leaders. As soon as senior management gets this a program can develop otherwise it fails.
Sandra Paret, Senior Vice President, HOK Architects:
Typical failure is the result of the lack of top down mandate that all entities within the organization respect and participate in the program, regardless of their “unique” situation. An effective program encompasses active participation, innovation and endorsement.
Karen C. Teitelbaum, Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer, Sinai Health System:
SAM initiatives falter for three basic reasons: the customer’s needs and perspectives are not well understood by the SA manager; the players who have established a relationship have changed; the vendor’s priorities and resources have shifted. From a customer’s standpoint, the best SAM initiatives do a sort of succession planning in advance of implementation, thinking ahead about who will own the initiative, how to handle personnel changes, and getting a deep understanding of the business and priorities from the customer’s perspective.
Gary Cokins, Enterprise Performance Management Specialist, SAS Institute Inc.:
SAM initiatives falter when disparate and disjointed sales incentive and compensation systems get in the way. Rivalries between different sales teams for the same customer also complicate matters.
Robert Warren, EVP & Chief Operating Officer, Boise, Inc.:
When it is viewed as a program that is about numbers rather than understanding and meeting customer needs and developing an effective and open relationship.
Karen Posey, Senior Consultant, Geehan Group:
Lack of internal alignment, which is caused by no overall program sponsor at an executive level.
Lee Pryor, Principal, Essayons! Consulting, Inc.:
The biggest reason for failure of a SAM program is lack of senior level management support. The SAMs can work as hard as they want but without the crucial support of senior management the program will not be successful. As companies go through reorganization it is easy for top level executives to be distracted from the importance of SAM programs while managing the reorganization. This is when the support most often falters.
Jim Melillo, President, Executive Conversation:
Initiatives falter when SAMs sell to shoppers, not buyers. To remedy this, I counsel SAMs to focus on contacts within accounts who are responsible for delivering on corporate strategic goals. This doesn’t mean limit yourself to Managing Directors or Finance Directors. Cast a broader net that also targets roles with profit and loss responsibility or that run a business unit. Bring ideas to the table that your account hasn’t yet considered, or that they can’t do on their own. I see too many SAMs spending time responding to RFPs, not seeding demand by addressing their account’s strategic objectives.
Roland Dietz, President, Focused Connections, Inc.:
When strategic account management is introduced as just a sales initiative and the rest of the organization does not realize that the position of SAM requires some flexibility and responsiveness from the rest of the organization. When operating procedures are so tightly defined to ensure "compliance" and "loss prevention" on discounts and other aspects of making deals, that there is no flexibility for the SAM to actually produce a win-win.
If the CFO and his team have not been part of a discussion about how packages get constructed and how proposals will be evaluated balancing short term objectives and strategic relationships with a long term cash flow that is substantial from a strategic customer.
If the SAM is controlled and guided by the same "factory" like incentive programs as most of the regular sales people, which is focused on quarterly results most of the time, w/o taking into account the lifetime value of a relationship with regard to sales revenue, let alone the value of driving co-creation inspired innovation.
Dennis Raffa, National Account Sales Manager, Marketing, CHEP:
Lack of leadership. Lack of “buy in” from a customer and the inability of a SAM to create value to secure customer “buy in.”
Tags: SAM Theory