Most global B2B companies have realised they need to manage their major customers – who represent most of their future revenue and profit – differently to the rest of their customers. Why? Well if you want to create opportunities to grow with your major customers, and earn the right to keep doing business with them, you need to offer much more than the average supplier. So, they decide to implement Strategic Account Management.
Sadly we are frustrated at some senior business leaders who simply don’t get it. They think that having someone senior involved, or a few non-sales people engaged in managing a key customer relationship makes them strategic. It doesn’t. Or they think that because they have a robust process to document plans with customers, monitoring activities and revenue performance; they have an effective SAM process. They are miles off the mark.
Strategic Account Management (SAM) isn’t about sales. In fact the best companies separate revenue and sales discussions from their Strategic Account Management activities. They understand that sales growth is a consequence of creating value for customers. So they focus on understanding their customers deeply to identify ways to create more value. And when we say value we mean helping customers get better business results: to reduce current and future expenses, to grow revenue and profit, or to reduce or eliminate business risks.
For those of you struggling to separate sales from Strategic Account Management, in our book ‘Managing the B2B Customers You Can’t Afford to Lose: How to Create Joint Value with your Strategic Accounts’, we summarised the main differences:
If you want to evaluate whether your current approach with strategic accounts is sales focused or strategic, simply run-through the table above and put a tick against each point if it represents your current approach. The pattern of ticks will show your current position.
Try taking this small survey to see if Strategic Account Management would benefit your organisation.