AKAM's workshop on Global Account Management: how is it different from KAM? took place in Amsterdam at the Planetarium Conference Centre, organised in association with the Dutch Sales Management Association (SMA). Olivier Rivière, Deputy-Chairman of AKAM, speaks with Eiso Bleeker, Manager of the SMA.
Hello Eiso, and many thanks for leading the organisation of the conference in Amsterdam
What is the goal of the Dutch Sales Management Association and how does it operate?
The main goal of The Sales Management Association (SMA) is to improve the Sales profession in the Netherlands and allow Sales professionals of all levels to meet and network. We try to achieve this in different ways:
- Ensure (public and private) sales education is quality controlled and appropriately accredited
- Offer certification for Sales professionals with qualifications
- Organise approximately 90 meetings per year, with relevant content participants
- Twice a year, compile and release the SMA Sales Index, an indicator of Sales and general economic activity in the Netherlands
To expand on this last item, SMA meetings are divided in regular meetings and peer groups. Regular meetings are organised for five different regions in the Netherlands; North, South, East, West and Middle of the Netherlands. Regular meetings are either "Sales Cafés", which focus on a commercial topic, or "Sales Manager in the Kitchen", where the group visits a member company and discusses the commercial strategy of that company. The other types of meetings are peer groups: private meetings for sales professionals of a certain tenure and experience level. We organise peer groups for Commercial Directors, Sales Managers, Senior and Young Sales Professionals and Bid Management. Topics discussed in peer groups are adapted to the level of experience of participants, and the focus is on relevant commercial content and experience sharing.
There are many global Dutch companies, how crucial is the theme of Global Account Management to them?
The Netherlands is a small country, and therefore very dependent on its trade relations. Many Dutch companies can only survive by doing business abroad, and it is then of paramount importance to establish Global Account Management. With the current globalisation trend, using Global account management is the only way to do business with the large companies in the world.
When talking with your members do you feel that KAM/GAM is considered as a sales topic or as a topic broader than sales?
From speaking to our members I feel that KAM/GAM is a broader topic than Sales. They are responsible for the whole end-to-end customer relationship, which is also includes delivery of the sold product. The KAM/GAM can only be successfull if the whole organisation is aligned to deliver the requirements of the contract.
What are, according to you, the key reasons to attend the AKAM Conference?
The AKAM Conference informed attendees and brought to life the latest trends and developments in KAM/GAM. Excellent speakers highlighted different subjects and aspects. In addition, the conference gave attendees the opportunity to network with colleagues who are facing similar challenges, but perhaps in a different business. One of the key goals of the conference was to learn from other people and best practices from other countries.
Many Thanks Eiso,