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June 2, 2021

Highlights from SAMA’s 2021 Annual Conference

Ulrik Monberg | June 2, 2021

Highlights from SAMA’s 2021 Annual Conference

This year’s virtual conference was all about The New Paradigms of Engagement and with 500+ fellow attendees and 30+ live and interactive sessions, the three conference days were packed with powerful, intriguing, relevant and interesting inputs and contributions.

Use technology to maintain customers

It’s safe to say that SAMA really went above and beyond this year to bring together the largest virtual, cross-industry community of innovators and decision makers focused on co-creating value with strategic and key customers. With newly gained knowledge and insights into what’s moving within the SAM sphere, I’ve gathered my key findings in the hopes that you will be just as enlightened as I was after plunging into the program of live presentations, keynotes and panel discussions from cross-industry thought leaders.

A main topic throughout the conference, and the questions on everybody’s lips right now, is how do you continue growth within a company, while learning from everything we just came out of? In these turbulent times, when our success is so tied to that of our most strategic customers, we need to constantly automate routines and keep our virtual game up to speed.

I’ve spoken about it before, and I’ll say it again – the companies that are going to emerge strongest from this crisis will be those who manage to adapt to their customers’ changing needs through technology and we need to ensure that we, as a business, have the right tools to create positive customer experiences.

“75% of customers expect companies to use new technologies to create better experiences”

Moving SAM from an individual sport to a team sport

We see a clear trend where SAM is moving from being an individual sport to becoming more of a team sport. What should be derived from this, is that customers are getting bigger and bigger, and so sales and marketing has to co-create value and develop strategic plans across the organization based on individual accounts. It’s increasingly important to drive consistency and alignment in customer business planning, because alignment will be the straight road to empowerment.

Tiffani Bova’s keynote session raised the highly relevant question of how to build a modern growth company by learning from everything we just came out of. In short, what you can do is outthink competitors and thereby set yourself up for success. A key point was that the decisions you make today will have an impact tomorrow and in order to gain long term strategic advantage you have to start making those decisions today.

But what decisions should you focus on? An important factor – and an increasingly important part of the SAM role – is recognizing what you have in common with your customer. Figuring out how to mine talent and capabilities in your own company can enable you to provide meaningful thought leadership, which is an effective way to differentiate your company, open doors to key contacts and build multi-level relationships.

The value of a SAM is derived not only from trying to sell the customer a product but to a high extent also from sharing knowledge, insights and expertise. So how does one accomplish this? Another key takeaway from the conference was that one way is to engage your executives and experts directly with your customers in support of your overall relationship development strategy.

“Customers will remember the experience they have with a brand (or person) much longer than the price they paid”
– Tiffani Bova

A significant conclusion made from the three conference days, is that SAM’s need to interact effectively with people at all levels in the customer’s organization, simply because:

  • You can’t change someone’s mind unless you know where their mind is.
  • People do things they believe are in their best interests regardless of whether you think it’s a good idea or not.

Adapting to a more virtual future

So where is the work of strategic and key account management headed? Try and go back and think about how we did business just a little over a year ago, and then think of the reality we’re facing today – do you think it will remain this way? I believe it will land somewhere in between. The future of SAM is definitely looking interesting although it also brings challenges, and there’s no doubt that the way we work will continue to develop and bring new and exciting opportunities and possibilities. What happened in that past year should be used to guide us when going forward from here.

“Sales Organizations reporting AI use is increased by 76% since 2018”

We are finding ourselves in a time of re-prioritization and behavior change. Customers are at the center of what will define success moving forward and our single most important role is to simply adapt by being easier to do business with and rapidly adopting virtual collaboration tools.

Most corporations have plenty of value-creating tools for sales enablement or account management. If not, my guess is that they are looking into it at this very moment, or at least that is what they should be doing if they want to follow the top sales innovators, who are embedding data and technology throughout their organizations to reimagine sales.

After several years of talking to clients and providing hands-on experience ourselves in big global corporations, we have used this knowledge to develop an add-on to Salesforce. This tool is not only providing essential features for planning and working with sales and strategic account management, but it has the added advantage of creating value by forcing professionals to actively be dealing with data in a strategic way and tap into the company’s best practise, rather than having several individual best practices and working methods across the organization.

Our solutions assist you in figuring out what kind of relationships are needed where, and allows you to easily make the information available to all, so we can overcome some of these extremely common obstacles and issues that naturally comes along when working with CSR.

In the future, it will be very interesting to follow SAM as an organizational strategy and seeing more people work with strategic accounts. The way we’re segmenting accounts and working with marketing need to be connected to strategic accounts and this means we’re constantly looking at what we can do with our strategic accounts to make them become more successful.

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Ulrik Monberg, CEO & Founder

Ulrik Monberg, CEO & Founder

+45 31 46 31 56 / +1 818 946 6804
um@arpedio.com
linkedin.com/in/monberg/

Follow us on LinkedIn to get all the newest perspectives and insights around strategic relationship management and sales innovation.

Ulrik Monberg, CEO & Founder

Ulrik Monberg, CEO & Founder

+45 31 46 31 56 / +1 818 946 6804
um@arpedio.com
linkedin.com/in/monberg/

Follow us on LinkedIn to get all the newest perspectives and insights around strategic relationship management and sales innovation.

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