Key takeaways from SAMA’s Annual Conference

Are you a journey orchestrator? No? Not sure what it means to be a journey orchestrator in Account Management? Keep on reading.

Last week more than 500 Strategic Account Managers (SAMs) and leaders of SAM programs gathered in New Orleans for the annual Strategic Account Management Association (SAMA) conference. It’s an event for everyone interested in growing profitably with their company’s most strategic customers. The days are filled with a wide range of sessions offering depth and insights across all industries. But what happens when that many sales leaders gather in New Orleans? Some great networking, insights on best practices, and some fun too!

We have taken all the interesting insights from the conference and boiled them down to three key takeaways. Here’s what you need to be aware of right now if you are operating within Strategic Account Management and Account Based Selling:

SAMA Conference Attendee Takeaways

Takeaway #1 - SAMs are “Journey Orchestrators”

With the rise of virtual selling comes the rise of omnichannel. McKinsey (see graphic below) investigated thirty go-to-market channels (e.g., digital advertising, social media, email, phone, in-person) and found that a multi-channel approach increased sales effectiveness by 10% from 2020 to 2021. The adage “meet your customers where you are” continues to ring true, but just like many of us now order groceries online, our prospects and customers are ready to work with their vendors across more digital channels.

Also, it was interesting seeing how many different kinds of SAM programs were represented at the conference. There were SAMs from larger companies, smaller companies, manufacturing, pharma, a focus on sales, a focus on service, and more. But, even with all the variety a few themes came through. For example, there’s a difference between a key account and a strategic account. A key account is important because of revenue, but a strategic account is important as it supports the company’s future. Also, almost half the time, a key or strategic prospect will not “pull the trigger” on a Purchase Order until they meet their KAM or SAM. And, lastly, ultimately, the role of the SAM is critical in ensuring those strategic accounts are properly supported throughout the buyer journey, from acquisition all the way to advocacy.

This brings us to the final point on SAM as journey orchestrators. The future for SAM leaders and their programs is connecting Account Based Selling (ABS) to Account Based Marketing (ABM). ABM and ABS are underpinned by the buyer journey. And, as Forrester highlights it’s important to align the buyer journey with the sales process. However, now, to be competitive, companies need to go further than the sales process. Companies need to ensure alignment between sales and marketing for their key and strategic accounts. Marketing supports messaging, digital advertising, and critical signals that informs the SAM.

Excerpt from the McKinsey 2021 B2B Pulse Survey

Takeaway #2 - We are Storytellers

Two of the conference sessions we found particularly valuable were from Corporate Visions and P&G. Both sessions focused on the importance of presentations and storytelling. Dr. Carmon Simon, a neuroscientist at Corporate Visions, spoke to her research on attention and memory. She described four types of attention: selective, divided, sustained, and executive. Contrary to what most believe, our brains are fully attentive all the time, and, if the story is good, we can stay engaged. For example, did you ever binge watch a TV show? Or re-read a book? Now, the challenge is, how do we make our presentations more interesting than a beige wall? One recommendation from Dr. Simon is to use text for your main points. And, only use one main takeaway with 2-4 supporting points. Afterall, after 48 hours, the average person will only remember 10% of what you said!

Did you know that 65% of the most popular TED talks are stories? This is how Shane Meeker, Storyteller and Company Historian at P&G, kicked of his session. Meeker went on to say that we all need to be good storytellers, and our presentations should be inspiring, informative, memorable, and “rewatchable.” Have you ever been asked for a copy of your presentation? Well, that’s a good measure of success! To accomplish such a result here a few suggestions Shane offered. First, think about telling a good story. In any story there should be a hero, an obstacle, and the treasure. And no, you as a vendor, are not the hero – you’re the guide. Another tip – think about the “POP” versus the “POD.” POP are your Points of Parity while POD are Points of Differentiation. For example, in the movie Back to the Future, interfering with your parents’ relationship is a POP (we can all do that) whereas going back in time is a POD.

So, what’s your POD?

Example Points of Differentiation (POD)

Takeaway #3 - Digital Transformation is on the Rise

Most attendees now have a digital transformation initiative underway for their SAM program. ARPEDIO hosted two sessions with our customers Aggreko and Premier Inc. on how to operationalize the SAMA 7-Step Methodology into the company’s CRM. Built two years ago by the SAMA community, the 7-Step Methodology (see graphic below) is a best practice guide for SAM teams. The 7-Steps help SAMs effectively assess accounts and opportunities, conduct productive one-on-ones with their managers, and, most importantly, illustrate how to co-create value with their strategic accounts.

Aggreko and Premier Inc. used the ARPEDIO Account Based Selling Platform, which embeds the SAMA 7-Step Methodology, to apply their company specific requirements and fully operationalize their SAM programs into Salesforce. That means no more stagnant account plans in PowerPoint or Excel. As Ned Gilbert from Premier Inc. pointed out:

The real-time visibility and visualization of stakeholder relationships, account health, and opportunity status allows SAM teams and executives to make informed decisions quickly for their most important accounts.
Ned Gilbert
Sr. Director Strategic Accounts, Premier Inc.
The SAMA 7-Steps

In summary we want to thank SAMA for putting together an amazing and informative event! It was energizing to meet so many of our SAM and vendor peers, and many new members too – all in-person! We had some fun networking offsite at Mardi Gras World Tuesday night, and enjoyed the water and live music. So, if you’re not a SAMA member already, make sure you join so we can see you next year!

ARPEDIO and Aggreko at Mardi Gras World

Ready to start taking advantage of sales enablement technologies like account-based selling? Ramp up with ARPEDIO’s account-based selling platform. 

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.

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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