Showcase your achievements alongside the most advanced and prestigious
strategic account management programs in the world.



Category 1: Systematic enablement of the SAM program: Learning & Development

Recognizing the imperative and challenges to attract, develop, and retain SAM talent, learning and development (training) plays an increasingly important role in building SAM capabilities to effectively collaborate, create value, and grow with their company's most important customers. Additionally, in our hybrid world, organizations need to innovate in how they develop SAM talent, enable cross-function account teamwork, equip leaders to sponsor and coach, and embed and sustain organization-wide change. The winning submission will demonstrate:

  • Innovative, integrated learning strategies, approach (learning road maps/training programs), design, and deployment that accelerate, deepen, and sustain enterprise-wide strategic account management mindset and capabilities.
  • Measurable improvement of SAMs' competencies, company capabilities, customer-centric culture, and customer value/impact.

Category 2: Innovative value co-creation

One role of the SAM is to leverage resources within his or her organization to co-create value with a strategic customer. At SAMA we’ve seen some extraordinary examples of this innovation through value co-creation, including (but not limited to) in their rapid response to the global pandemic — and we are looking for more.

The winning entry will demonstrate, through one or more examples, how SAMs think outside the box to solve complex problems by, e.g., engaging their company’s entire ecosystem (suppliers, competitors, start-ups), solving not only customer problems but customer’s customer’s problems, or through other novel, innovative mechanisms. Bonus points will be given for new, innovative ways to assemble diverse stakeholders to co-create solutions that address complex customer problems. A specific customer example is required!

Category 3: C-Suite support and engagement for the SAM program and strategic customers

SAMA is interested in knowing what good C-suite support for a SAM program and customer engagement looks like!

CEO engagement with customers can have a significant impact on their company’s revenue, profits, growth, shareholder value, and overall survival. In addition, we know that:

  • CEOs are now spending 3% or less of their time with customers.
  • Customer dissatisfaction with their suppliers is going up.
  • Without a C-level relationship, it is difficult to obtain deep strategic alignment.
  • The most successful SAM programs are sponsored by the C-suite and board.
  • To be seen as a strategic supplier you and your company must be relevant at the C-level of your customer.

However, C-suite support is not easily earned by the SAM, internally and externally. This is why SAMA recommends using executive sponsors with strategic accounts up to and including the C-suite.

The winning example in this Excellence Award Category will demonstrate:

  • How the CEO or other C-suite members support the SAM program.
  • How the CEO or other C-suite members had a specific impact on enhancing the customer relationship.

Category 4: Outstanding young program of the year (<5 years)

The winning entry will demonstrate, through examples, the specific foundational elements and enablers that are transforming their business and their relationships with strategic customers to produce new levels of growth and profitability. Please note: Past winners in this category are not eligible to apply.

Please note: Previous winners of this award must wait two years before submitting for “Outstanding young program of the year” again but are encouraged to submit in otLinkher award categories.

Category 5: Outstanding mature program of the year (5+ years)

Mature SAM organizations face many challenges, including maintaining and evolving strong executive leadership and governance, becoming more agile through changing economic and digital disruptions, continuous learning to elevate SAM processes and tools, and accelerating the drive for innovative co-creation with strategic customers. The winning entry will demonstrate, through examples, the strength, resilience and productivity of their SAM organization.

Please note: Previous winners of this award must wait two years before submitting for “Outstanding mature program of the year” again but are encouraged to submit in other categories.


View the submission questions



✯ Benchmark against the best of the best.

✯ Take stock of where your company is on its SAM journey.

✯ Convey to the rest of your organization the benefit of investing in strategic relationships. Demonstrate to your customers they’re getting world-class customer experience.

Listen to what 2022's Excellence Award winners have to say about the benefit of entering.


Submissions for 2024 are now closed.