Strategic account management is a systematic process for managing key interactions and relationships with critical accounts. Writers sometimes quote the Pareto Principle to describe strategic accounts: 20 percent of the customers generate 80 percent of the revenue/profit. It's usually an apt comparison, although the numbers can vary dramatically if the firm's strategy has targeted emerging or medium-sized accounts. Still, strategic accounts tend to provide a disproportionate share of a firm's revenue/profit. We call such customers co-destiny accounts.
The supplier's future tends to be intertwined with these accounts' success. With clients whose contribution is that critical, strategic account management can play a crucial role in a firm's marketing strategy. That's why successful strategic account management tends to be a firmwide initiative, systematically and proactively delivering strategic solutions to multiple contacts at targeted accounts—to capture a dominant share over time.
Strategic account managers are salespersons who must generate profitable revenue, quarter-to-quarter and over the long term. At the same time, they are general managers, overseeing assigned relationships as separate assets in the customer portfolio. Businesspeople sometimes distinguish between salespeople who are hunters and those who are gatherers—those who get the business and those who manage the business afterwards. True strategic account managers (SAMs) are both and neither of these classifications: they are hunters but within their assigned accounts, continually working to increase account share. They also must manage those account relationships, and be accountable for ongoing and long-term financial growth.
Strategic accounts tend to provide a disproportionate share of a firm's revenue/profit. We call them co-destiny accounts.