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 goal of an effective strategic account manager is to develop and sell solutions rather than products, differentiate their company from its competitors, de-commoditize their products and services, and align the company key stakeholders to customer commitments, needs and deliverables.
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.