Many people talk about their Strategic Account Manager as a single point of contact. But is this wise? It annoys the other customer points of contact in the supplier who thinks the SAM will steal their relationship. It also encourages the customer to ONLY deal with the SAM who then gets overloaded.

I have always encouraged people to talk about the SAM as a single point of coordination. I have found this one word makes a huge difference in how the SAM Programme is perceived both internally and externally. The SAM is like a conductor who coordinates the orchestra to a single piece of music, the account plan.

However, I now think that this is wrong! In this month’s Harvard Business Review, Professor Rosabeth Kanter of the Harvard Business School – talking about Peter Drucker’s legacy – said, “If the twentieth century gave rise to knowledge workers with deep expertise, the twenty-first century will require leaders who can foster integrative thinking and collaboration across fields and specialities. Collaboration, not coordination will be the task of management.”  This makes sense to me.  The SAM is actually more than a conductor interpreting a piece of music.  He/she is there helping to create the music in the first place.  Indeed, the SAM is more like a producer, involved in the whole production, touching every aspect and making sure a great commercial success is produced.

So, the 21st Century SAM: A Single Point of Collaboration? Or better, The Key Point of Collaboration.