Key Takeaways From SAMA 2023 Annual Conference

Once again, The Strategic Account Management Association (SAMA) brought together sales and strategic account management professionals from around the globe for their annual conference. The conference took place in beautiful San Diego – and even though we ran into ‘May Gray’, the conference and the surroundings were anything but.

We were treated to an abundance of captivating keynote speeches and 200+ sessions that delved headfirst into the theme of this year’s Annual Conference: “Evolving to meet the challenge in an ever-changing SAM environment“. And it’s safe to say we truly got our money’s worth!

Now that the conference has come to an end, it’s time for a recap. Below, we’ve gathered our highlights and key takeaways from our time at #SAMAcon 2023.

SAMA 2023 Annual Conference
SAMA 2023 Annual Conference is kicked off

#1 Navigating the Economic Climate and Challenges

Attendees recognized the challenges posed by the current economic climate and emphasized the importance of understanding and adapting to these challenges as top priorities for driving success. This recognition underscored the need for account managers to prioritize customer value and gain insights into individualized customer interactions, emphasizing the significance of maintaining strong relationships, linking transactions, and ensuring a superior customer experience.

Our customers are changing even faster. Agile is the new normal — if there is ever going to be a new normal. The ability to adapt and change as a cohesive and coordinated team, working with our customers in our markets is rapidly becoming the most important skill in any organization, in any industry.
Sierra Towers
Vice President of Go to Market & Operations, Boehringer Ingelheim

#2 Change and its Evolving Nature

Throughout the conference, the evolving nature of change management was a focal point. The phrase “Change isn’t what it used to be” resonated among the attendees, highlighting the shifting landscape and the realization that traditional change approaches may no longer be as effective as they used to be. This emphasized the need for new strategies and adaptability to thrive in a rapidly changing business environment.

#3 Technology as Key Enabler

Technology’s role as a sales enabler was deemed more critical than ever before. AI and other technological advancements were discussed as essential tools to improve the sales deployment approach and overall sales effectiveness.

…and what better time to mention that ARPEDIO is recognized as a notable vendor in The Account-Based Selling Technologies Landscape, Q2 2023 by Forrester, offering sales and sales operation leaders insights into the expected value from account-based selling technologies.

Thanks to technology, we have the ability to establish a clear definition of “what good looks like.” This term surfaced multiple times as a standard for achieving excellence, indicating a collective understanding of what defines success in account management and sales practices. Moreover, it was commonly acknowledged that technology enables us to effortlessly provide widespread access to these best practices, making them readily available to everyone.

SAMA 2023 Annual Conference
ARPEDIO's booth

#4 Multichannel Engagement as the New Norm

The conference discussions confirmed that multichannel engagement has become the new standard in business. Organizations are embracing the use of various channels to connect with customers effectively and deliver exceptional experiences throughout the buying journey.

As much or as often as you can, give your people as much power as humanly possible. Let them feel the ownership that you have. The more ownership they feel, the more barriers will be brought down, the more silos they’ll break down, the better relationships they’ll build that will be in the best interest of the team.
Dave Berke
Chief Officer of Development & Curriculum, Echelon Front

#5 The Buying Journey Takes Center Stage

The significance of focusing on the customer’s buying journey was universally acknowledged. This approach, advocated twenty years ago, has now become widely accepted as a fundamental principle for success in sales and account management.

#6 Customers Need to be at the Forefront of Everything you do

When you put the customer in the center, and you bring cross-functional resources into the account planning process, amazing things happen. Success in modern account planning and management has to do with combinations of value co-creation (past, present, future), aligning (internally, externally), and trust-based relationships.

The most important thing you can do as a member of a team — in any capacity — is to build relationships and build that trust. And you do that by showing the people around you that you care about them more than you care about yourself.
Dave Berke
Chief Officer of Development & Curriculum, Echelon Front
Denise Freier, President and CEO at SAMA, introducing their partners

#7 Foster Strategic Partnerships With Customers

Account managers are increasingly striving to develop strategic partnerships with their customers. This goes beyond providing discounts, and while it may not be easy, cheap, or quick, the results of building long-term collaborative relationships with top accounts are evident in terms of mutual value creation. And this goes for the executive level as well: CEO and C-suite engagement with customers was highlighted as crucial for success.

75% of companies think they are customer-centric. 30% of customers actually agree. It’s not enough to engage with customers…you have to connect with them.
Tiffani Bova
Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce

SAMA research indicated that SAMs often spend 70% of their time selling internally and only 30% of their time with customers. To flip those percentages in their favor, it was recommended to be intentional about engaging with customers and the C-suite early and often, aiming to co-create mutual value.

SAMA research also showed that SAMs who conducted consistent and intentional quarterly customer discovery achieved nearly double the account growth compared to those who only did it ad hoc. This further emphasized the importance of proactive and regular customer engagement to drive account growth.

Leaders are the creators or corporate culture. We need to set the example. We need to be willing to let go of control and empower our teams in a true and honest way, so that we can foster this culture of cross-functional collaboration and open communication.
Sierra Towers
Vice President of Go to Market & Operations, Boehringer Ingelheim

Overall, the conference provided valuable insights into the evolving landscape of account management, emphasizing the need for adapting to change, leveraging technology, focusing on customer-centric approaches, and fostering strategic partnerships with key accounts.

We want to express our sincere gratitude to the SAMA team for organizing another fantastic conference. It was a privilege to be a part of such an engaging and thought-provoking event.

Thank you to everyone who visited our booth and participated in our workshop. And on a final note, we’d like to thank everyone who joined our boat excursion – your enthusiasm and contributions made the experience truly memorable.

SAMA 2023 Annual Conference
ARPEDIO's boat excursion through the beautiful San Diego Bay

With the conference now behind us, we encourage you to carry the knowledge and insights gained at SAMAcon 2023 into your professional journeys. Let’s continue to adapt, innovate, and elevate the field of sales and strategic account management.

If you would like to learn more about our solutions or continue the conversation, please reach out to us. We look forward to connecting with you!

Until we meet again, over and out from the ARPEDIO team!

Ready to centralize all your account and stakeholder data in Salesforce?

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Ulrik Monberg, CEO & Founder

+45 31 46 31 56 / +1 650 398 1285
[email protected]

Follow us on LinkedIn to get all the newest perspectives and insights around account-based selling.

Picture of Ulrik Monberg, CEO & Founder

Ulrik Monberg, CEO & Founder

+45 31 46 31 56 / +1 650 398 1285
[email protected]

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

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