It is challenge enough for a supplier organization to successfully locate and select the best talent to manage strategic, key or global accounts. Hiring or promoting the wrong talent is expensive, can be detrimental to your office environment and is time-consuming. A good SAM placement, on the other hand, elevates your work environment and further promotes the key account management role to the rest of your organization. How do you get on the path to making the right selection? Here are some ideas:
1. Define the strategic account manager (SAM) role within your organization
SAMA’s research shows that, in many firms, the role and purpose of a SAM are misunderstood within the company. If people within your own organization don’t understand the role of the SAM, that’s a huge impediment in searching and attracting the right talent.
2. Legitimize, standardize and publicize the SAM role
Once the profession of the SAM is defined and standardized for your organization, HR will have an easier time distinguishing SAM from general sales and selecting the best talent available. A standardized job description will embolden HR to better use their capabilities and tools in developing or recruiting the best SAMs, including aligning performance and promotion policies and developing and managing a long-term career funnel program for SAMs and potential SAMs.
3. Categorize job profiles
Different types of SAMs have different levels of job scope, complexity and accountability. Aim for accuracy and consistency or, even more strategically, assign job profiles to specific customer segments.
4. Get more people involved in recruitment and selection
On average, three to four stakeholders are involved in the recruiting and selection of new SAMs. But this may not be enough to identify the best candidates, either internally or externally. Directly involving certain key stakeholders outside of the core group, from the start, could produce more sources for candidate referrals as well as more inputs into candidate screenings, evaluations and recommendations.
5. Formalize internal processes for sourcing and selecting SAM talent
Relying too heavily on informal evaluation methods raises the risk for inconsistent decision-making. Incorporating a formal SAM competency model and assessment can remove bias from the process and improve both the hiring process and the quality of the hire.
6. Consider screening for desired personality traits and softer skills
SAM competencies extend far beyond hard skills to include such skills as strategic thinking, interpersonal relationship skills and communication/influence skills — skills identified in our research as being the most difficult to teach or train. Prior to a complete evaluation, consider making SAM-specific personality traits/attributes the top qualifier when screening SAM candidates.
Without the right people serving in the SAM role, it won’t matter how good your products or service offerings are. And if you aren’t following these six steps, you’re making it that much harder to find the right people for the job.
For more information about selecting and nurturing the right SAM talent, make sure you attend SAMA’s Pan-European (3/9-10, Prague) or Annual Conference (5/23-25, Maryland) where we offer sessions specifically for the SAM Training & Development professional.