Our winners showcase what's possible when companies put the customer at the center of their business strategy.

Category 1: "Customer co-creation that creates mutual business value"

Winner:  Hilton and Johnson Controls (joint submission)

Summary: At a meeting of senior stakeholders inside Johnson Controls Inc.’s (JCI’s) corporate innovation center, both companies uncovered a joint partnership opportunity to deliver a scalable building automation solution that would help both companies tackle strategic corporate initiatives. For Hilton, this meant contributing to its corporate sustainability goals; for JCI it meant growing the market for its mid-scale building automation and building analytics market — a true win-win. After piloting the co-created solution at one of Hilton’s mid-sized properties, the solution is now ready to be scaled to other Hilton properties.

For Hilton: An 11% reduction in electricity consumption versus predicted consumption for areas touched by the solution
• A 30% reduction in administrative labor costs associated with the implementation of the program at the property level.

For JCI: A significant contribution to its projected 15% growth in the mid-sized building automation market
• A forecasted 20% leap in JCI’s overall share-of-wallet of Hilton’s HVAC/C business

Go deeper: Denise Freier interviews the architects on both sides of the initiative for their insights and advice on the necessary ingredients for successful co-value creation.


Category 2: "Institutionalization of digitalization to create meaningful customer impact"

Winner: AVI-SPL

Summary: Using voice-of-the-customer mechanisms (Customer Advisory Board, individual client interviews, et al.), AVI-SPL identified critical touchpoints in the customer journey that could be enhanced through digitalization for maximum client impact. As a result, AVI-SPL set out to automate its strategic account planning process and overall customer partnership roadmaps and to build capabilities around providing real-time performance analytics both to customers and internally. They successfully deployed both Microsoft Power BI and Kapta as well as instituting the procedural and organizational structure changes to support their successful deployment and adoption.

Results: With one strategic account, AVI-SPL experienced two-year Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 66% and a year-over-year (YOY) growth rate of 26% (industry-average CAGR is just 9%). Overall CAGR for the entire portfolio is 61%. AVI-SPL earned $48 million in incremental total contract value with just four new customers thanks to global accounts story and global accounts customer references.

Go deeper: Listen to SAMA President & CEO Denise Freier interview AVI-SPL’s Danielle Matteson and Joe Laezza to hear how they implemented their company’s award winning digitalization.


Category 3: "Outstanding young program of the year (< 5 years)"

Co-winner:  Wajax

Summary: Responding to market changes and evolving customer expectations, Wajax embarked on creation of a strategic/key accounts program in 2016, merging three distinct divisions that had previously operated independently. With sponsorship from the CEO, the company built from scratch a strategic accounts program which would offer key customers a globally consistent, single-source solution leveraging the entire enterprise’s resources – therefore providing a unique and unified value proposition.

Results: For Eastern Canada, key accounts represent close to 40% of Wajax’s annual industrial category revenue and close to 25% of the company’s yearly revenue. For the company’s top 12 mining customers, wallet share grew by more than 25% in less than 3 years after the introduction of a strategic account model. Profitability with key account customers increased by 3% to 5% by leveraging a unified value proposition.

Go deeper: Listen to SAMA President & CEO Denise Freier interview André Dubé, the architect of Wajax’s strategic accounts program here.


Category 3: "Outstanding young program of the year (< 5 years)"

Co-winner:  AVI-SPL

Summary: AVI-SPL launched its strategic accounts program in 2018 to better serve large multinational customers in search of a single-source provider capable of exceeding expectations regardless of where in the world or what type of services they require. The company made a significant investment in full-time employees and resources dedicated to its strategic customers, including funding for SAMA certification (CSAM). In addition to several common SAMA best practices, AVI-SPL focused on several specific foundational program enablers to transform its customer relationships, namely: account qualification and selection, “all-in” executive sponsorship, exclusive financial benefits, digitalization of the customer journey, and strategic alignment and meaningful experiences.

Results: Fifty-five% CAGR for strategic accounts since inception. Fourteen original strategic accounts grew from 10% of total company bookings to ~20%, despite overall bookings increasing. EMEA/APAC pipeline growth has nearly doubled since 2018, a key strategic goal for the program.

Go deeper: SAMA President & CEO Denise Freier interviews AVI-SPL’s Danielle Matteson and Joe Laezza to go “under the hood” of the company’s award-winning program.


Category 4: "Outstanding mature program of the year (5+ years)"

Winner:  Schneider Electric

Summary: With a goal of doubling wallet share with strategic accounts, Schneider undertook a comprehensive effort to evaluate and transform its mature strategic accounts program. After third-party benchmarking, the company set to refine its people, processes and tools, including: yearly assessments of all account managers, additional staffing of strategic accounts, “Sales Academy” and “Solution University” to support account manager growth, rollout and socialization of new CRM, relationship mapping, win strategy and account planning tools, refresh of executive sponsorship program and executive committee sponsorship of SAM program transformation.

Results: Better growth versus the rest of the company for mature accounts, despite cost-of-sales reduction

  • Accelerated engagement on digital transformation and sustainability/climate change agenda
  • SW, Services and analytics growth superior to the rest of the group
  • Doubling of wallet share with strategic accounts in 3-4 years.

Go deeper: Listen to SAMA President & CEO Denise Freier and Managing Director Harvey Dunham interview Schneider Electric's SVP for Strategy (Industrial Automation & Segments) Friedrich Richter and Strategic Accounts Management Program Vice President Pierre Tabary.



"Implementation of a disciplined process to quantify and monetize specific customer value solutions" — Winner: AVI-SPL
"Implementation of specific customer engagement strategies enabling, and successfully impacting, the co-value creation process" — Co-winner: Premier/Merck and Air Liquide
"Outstanding young SAM program of the year (<5 years)" — Winner: AVI-SPL
"Outstanding mature SAM program of the year (>5 years)" — Winner: Johnson Controls, Inc.
"SAMA Global Customer-Centricity Award" — Winner: Boehringer Ingelheim


"Outstanding internal branding of a SAM organization across the company" — Winner: Pfizer
"Outstanding customer account team design, management and performance" — Winner: 3M
"Outstanding use of data and digitally-based processes to impact co-creation" — Winner: Arcadis
"Outstanding young SAM program of the year (<5 years)" — Winner: Arcadis
"Outstanding mature SAM program of the year (>5 years)" — Winner: 3M


"Successful implementation of value negotiation plan and subsequent execution" — Winner: 3M and DHL
"Successful implementation of value innovation within the supply chain" — Winner: Adobe
"Outstanding SAM program leadership for young programs" — Winner: DHL
"Outstanding SAM program leadership for mature programs" — Winner: Nalco Water
Special congratulations to honorable mentions:
Merck for "Outstanding SAM program leadership for young programs"
3M for "Outstanding SAM program leadership for mature programs"


"Internal alignment of key stakeholders across the company to a strategic customer" — Winner: DHL
"Customer insights and collaborative interactions leading to a mutually successful and jointly developed customer solution" — Winner: DHL
"Outstanding SAM program leadership for young programs (<5 years)" — Winner: Johnson Controls, Building Efficiency North America division
"Outstanding SAM program leadership for mature programs (5+ years)" — Winner: Zurich Insurance


"For use of business technology to discover and share customer insights" — Winner: DHL
"For customer-driven innovation" — Winner: DHL
"For Impact on customer metrics using a joint scorecard" — Winner: SKF


"Superior execution of a strategic account plan resulting in mutual customer-supplier growth and profitability" — Winner: Johnson Controls, Inc.
"Excellence in efficiently segmented and integrated account coverage" — Winner: Siemens AG
"Selecting, developing and coaching the strategic account manager" — Winner: Schneider Electric


2013 | Hilton Worldwide

2012 | Emerson Process Management

2011 | Siemens

2010 | Cisco

2009 | DHL

2008 | Xerox

2007 | Schneider-Electric

2006 | Cisco

2005 | Nalco Company

2004 | Marriott International

2003 | Siemens

2002 | PriceWaterhouseCoopers

2001 | ARCADIS, NV

2000 | Boise Cascade Office

1999 | Eastman Chemical Co.

1998 | American Express

1997 | Hewlett-Packard

1996 | Procter & Gamble

1995 | Bell Atlantic Mobile

1994 | MCI Telecommunications

1993 | Olin Corporation

1992 | The Upjohn Company

1991 | Fritz Companies, Inc.

1990 | Akzo Chemicals

1989 | Occidental Chemical Corp.

1988 | Cascade Corporation

1987 | Moore Business Forms

1986 | Gold Bond Building

1985 | Essex Chemical Corp.

1984 | American Can Company

1983 | American Hospital Supply

1982 | Diamond Shamrock Corp.

1981 | National Can Corporation

1980 | Purex Industries, Inc.

1979 | Shell Chemical Company

1978 | FMC Corporation

1977 | Union Carbide Corporation

1976 | Borden, Inc.

1975 | IBM Corporation

1974 | International Paper Co.

1973 | Koppers Company

1972 | Star Manufacturing Co.

1971 | Norton Simon, Inc.

1970 | Walter Kidde & Company

1969 | American Can Company

1968 | Borden Chemical

1967 | Eastman Kodak

1966 | 3M Company

1965 | U.S. Chamber of Commerce