The demands of a SAM role require a fair amount of self-confidence and drive, but what is not as well known is that SAMs have less confidence in their organization, in getting things done and equipping themselves to face uncertainty. This is one of the findings of a study of “Individual SAM Characteristics Influencing Customer-Supplier Value Realization” conducted by Value Innoruption Advisors and SAMA.
While this is a noteworthy discovery, SAM leadership and the C-level could especially benefit from noting the finding of the critical connections among firm performance, SAM personality traits and value management. “Having a formalized SAM process and robust operating guidelines show as strong elements of success for the financial performance of a firm, as measured by EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) and sales growth.” The study revealed a negative correlation to financial performance when introducing flexibility into the process.
Considering the connection to sales growth and absolute EBIT performance, the study recommends that “SAM team leadership engage with their HR and talent development teams to include emotional intelligence into the SAM competency model.” It also notes that there are demographic differences in both emotional intelligence and personality traits that we should take into account, such as the finding that SAM professionals ‘plateau’ after three or four years of experience. “One size fits all is not a productive approach in the design and deployment of SAM processes and value management programs.”
The study also recommends that leaders focus on both individual and collective confidence levels. “Strategic account managers cannot feel like they are on their own lifting mountains. They have to feel part of a winning team that has strong belief systems and strong intention to win in the value and pricing management areas.”
Related to this, the study recommends that “Top executives in firms having a GAM/SAM organization should pay close attention to these results and work hand-in-hand with top SAM leadership. These top executives can act as strong champions for the SAM process and interact with SAM leadership to boost confidence levels.”
In addition to collaborative recommendations for top executives, the study encourages SAM leaders “to hold discussions with their marketing and pricing counterparts to establish new levels of collaboration among their teams so that they can holistically work on customer-value programs. The SAM team cannot be expected to design all value quantification and value capture tools and resources, and do this in a vacuum.”
The study also found that “The greatest drivers of value management capabilities reside in the back-end of the value management process and more specifically in the pricing realization and value capture steps.” In this regard, the study recommends balancing value management processes to include more focus, attention and resource allocation towards value quantification and value capture, including “the development of formal capabilities for both SAMs and SAM leadership via training, tool development, team interactions and process development.” It also recommends “having strong pricing discipline and focusing on preparation for pricing negotiation and management of pricing and value objections.”
Based on the overall findings of the study, SAM leaders are encouraged to “evaluate their overall programs to incorporate additional dimensions into both the value management process and their SAM competence models” and consider a value capability assessment.