The Strategic Account Management Association and SAMA Research Advisory Council* have identified the following subject areas as the organization’s top research priorities for the 2014-2016 SAMA Research Calendar.
At the interface of a strategic customer-supplier relationship is the mutual desire for value which results in business outcomes of growth, profitability, trust, loyalty, innovation and risk management.Top research priorities in this area include:
Refers to an embedded process or processes for engaging a strategic customer in the co-development of specific innovations—whether through ideas for continuous improvement and productivity, new products and services, or new business models and joint ventures.
SAMA Research has shown that having an institutionalized process for co-innovation with customers is closely correlated with strategic account growth, yet just 42% of our study respondents have a formal process for creating innovation with customers.i
Refers to the entire end-to-end process for creating and realizing value with a strategic customer, leveraging the entire value chain and ensuring alignment to the goals and metrics of customer and supplier.
SAMA Research has shown that having a “defined process for creating customer value” is closely correlated to strategic account growth, yet over 40% of our study respondents do not have such a process in place.ii
Internal SAM Organization
As a corporate strategy for long-term growth, the management system for a strategic accounts program operates across an enterprise to create a customer-focused alignment of resources and capabilities, both vertically and horizontally. Having the right internal SAM capabilities enables the performance of strategic account managers, the extended SAM team and the SAM process.Top research priorities in this area include:
Customer accounts designated as strategic to a firm vary significantly in terms of their organizational characteristics and demands upon the supplier’s resources and capabilities. Variables such as industry, markets, size, geography, purchasing behavior, etc. may suggest or dictate differing organizational structure to ensure adequate account coverage and performance. There are currently numerous structures in use for strategic account management, and companies as well as SAMA and external experts have identified and variously labeled these SAM organizational structures according to such aspects as geographic scope, i.e. NAM, KAM, GAM, or by a customer’s strategic rank or requirements for “integrated” or “coordinated” coverage.
While there is some literature on the subject, more can be done from an applied research perspective to understand the account management models best suited for certain types of customers and certain types of suppliers. Companies need more practical guidance and inputs based on proven and innovative models when structuring or restructuring their SAM organizations.
Many SAMs are selected for being seasoned salespeople, or as a reward in the latter part of their career. But SAM is a corporate initiative rather than a sales strategy and, as such, the role requires a distinct set of skills and personal attributes. Through years of benchmarking and research, SAMA has been able to define skills and competencies associated with the responsibilities and key activities of a SAM—see SAMA’s SAM Competency Model and definition of a SAM. However, there remains a gap in understanding the requisite personality traits and characteristics of a successful SAM through sound research. Such research will greatly aid working professionals in identifying and selecting the right candidates for a SAM position.
External Factors & Competitive Pressures
One of the leading external factors pressuring strategic supplier organizations to remain competitive and attractive to customers is the integration of digital technologies into business operations and strategy. Companies wishing to be at the forefront of SAM management practices will need to expand their ability to leverage and integrate digital technologies for greater joint customer-supplier value.The top research priority in this area is:
New proposals from potential research partners on any of the above subjects are welcome and will be evaluated based on quality, relevance and priority.
For more information on our new SAMA Research Direction including how SAMA wants to partner on research and about submitting a proposal, please read here.
SAMA Research General Manager
i2014 Report on Current Trends & Practices in Strategic Account Management. (Strategic Account Management Association, 2014)
* SAMA Research Advisory Council
Volkhard Bregulla, VP Global Accounts Germany & Central Eastern Europe, HP
Noel Capon, Chairman Marketing Dept., Columbia University
John Gardner, Senior VP - Global Strategic Accounts, Emerson Process Management
Jonathan Hughes, Partner, Vantage Partners
Jeff Marr, Vice President, Solutions Development, Walker
Mike Moorman, Principal, ZS Associates
Atlee Valentine Pope, President & CEO, Blue Canyon Partners
Bernard Quancard, President & CEO, SAMA
Kaj Storbacka, Professor, Markets and Strategy, The University of Auckland Business School
Vartan Vartanian, President SKF Industrial Market, Regional Sales and Service, SKF