We are once again facing an economic paradox; the private sector being expected to drive economic recovery while, particularly in Europe, government spending being reduced and in some countries sharply so. The impact of public sector expenditure spending reductions in both capital and operational areas will impact aggregate spending in any economy and as expected by all commentators will lead to further unemployment and, therefore, reduced demand for goods and services.

The supply side of our industry can choose to sit back and wait to see what happens-many will indeed do this. However, those who by nature are business drivers could well do with adopting a strategic account management approach to their business and have a greater say in the agenda of business. Earlier this year at the annual industry conference organised by the Slovenia Convention Bureau it was clear  that some suppliers really were simply reactive in their business philosophy, others recognised that they need higher visibility in the eyes of meeting planners/buyers in order to thrive in an increasingly competitive market. This competition is not just about your business neighbour but perhaps more realistically other destinations.

Some years ago the concept of strategic account management emerged which is in essence all about knowing the market place, identifying key existing and importantly key future clients that your business would ideally like to have. In our sector this means knowing the top agencies in each key geographical market place, the key associations (and their rotational policy) and assigning account managers with a clear AND consistent brief to establish contact, get to know how key decisions about venue and destination selection are made, and then maintaining a personalised business development approach. It’s key that for each of these target or key accounts you identify how and who makes the key decisions (on meeting content, logistics and signing the contract including the role of procurement).
In my experience meeting the target account in their office displays clear messages of commitment, professionalism and is by its very nature incredibly respectful. I recall one supplier saying to me how few bids the company won – how many more could have been won had someone from the company travelled to the clients office to discuss the RFP – not always welcome but the offer to do so is generally very much appreciated and is noted.

This November Strategic Account Management or SAM as it is known will be the topic covered by the Conventa Academy – senior business leaders are invited to be there to explore SAM and also listen first hand to one of Europe’s leading PCOs, about the expectations her company expects from suppliers – it’s very revealing.