Once a firm decides to move to strategic account management, it needs to locate people who have both patience and strategic acumen. How do we find people who can, in two and a half years, recover and then build a lost customer from nothing to a $2 million-a-year account?
Sophisticated suppliers now are using fairly new competency models to select and develop SAMs. Ten years ago, competency models for SAMs did not really exist—although the Fortune 100 firms were using many kinds of sales-competency models. In the late 1990s, H. R. Chally, a sales-research and -selection firm in Kettering, Ohio, developed one competency model for SAMs.
Chally went to Boise Office Solutions, Lennox Industries, Marriott, Occidental Chemical, Pitney-Bowes of Canada, Reynolds & Reynolds, the Trane Companies, and a number of other firms to ask them for access to excellent strategic account managers and those whose performance was only so-so. Chally conducted in-depth assessments of the account managers to determine the skills that the excellent SAMs displayed, as well as the skills shown by the not-so-excellent account managers. Chally then developed a strategic account manager competency model and employment skills testing, which provides predictive accuracy that goes well beyond typical standardized, psychological, personality, skill, competency, or assessment-center tests. Their model appears below.