“Collaborating with your company’s executives in assigning sponsors to your key accounts is really a great way to drive growth, retention, loyalty, gain insight, and really guide your strategy.” – Warwick Brown in today’s Tip 324
Why should you have executive engagement in your key and strategic accounts?
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Scott Ingram: You’re listening to the Daily Sales Tips podcast and I’m your host, Scott Ingram. Today Warwick Brown is back with a great tip and he’s self introducing here so I’ll just let him take it away:
Warwick Brown: How would you like to know the number one, the number one action for strategic account growth? Any ideas? According to a Rain Group Benchmark Report on high-performance in strategic account management, quite a mouthful. They surveyed 370 companies and the number one account growth strategy was to get senior management involved and supportive of strategic account growth initiatives. But hang on, it’s not always so rosy because we have all been there where we’ve invited our senior executives into a meeting, they’re promised something we simply cannot deliver and we walk out thinking, “Oh no, now I’ve got to fix this mess.” So let’s weigh up the Pros and Cons of having your senior executives involved with your clients and your prospects.
Hello, it’s Warwick Brown here, founder at Account Manager Tips and I help organizations grow client revenue, reduce churn and get things done by empowering their account management teams and giving them the tools and mindset to succeed. Alright, Now enough about me, let’s talk about you. Why should you have executive engagement in your key and strategic accounts? Well, collaborating with your company’s executives in assigning sponsors to your key accounts is really a great way to drive growth, retention, loyalty, gain insight, and really guide your strategy. It shows commitment to your most important clients and drives a customer focus culture. It creates a partnership, orientation, and interdependence between you and your client and your prospects. And it improves resource planning and alignment. I mean, you know what’s not to like.
Here are the different types of executive engagement you might like to consider. You’ve got strategic contact, so that’s where you engage executives on issues of major importance that have long-term effects such as expansion into new markets for example.
Tactical contact. This is short term engagement that’s relevant to particular opportunities such as say post-sales service. You might invite your executives to welcome a new client on board and be part of that onboarding first sort of kickoff implementation meeting.
Social contact. So that’s an interaction between the supplier and the buyers, executives. So between you and your client or you and your prospects.
And then organizational alignment. So including your executives in goal setting, encouraging collaboration from different functional areas. So trying to get everybody to work together as a team who’s involved in either winning the business or keeping the business.
Executive engagement is a great way to get everybody on the same page. So let’s dig a little bit deeper into the benefits handling of the problems of executive engagement. What I like about including executives is that it does show commitment to my clients and my prospects. It builds trust and it really helps to nurture some of those more strategic relationships. Executives really can contribute an amazing amount of insight and experience because of their positions that you know, they’ve got greater knowledge, they can better identify opportunities and assessed risks in the way that maybe you or I can’t, you know, they’ve learned a few things along the way.
It also helps to develop Goodwill through strategic personal relationships with their counterparts within your clients or your prospects. It can earn greater access to decision-makers and improve information exchange.
There are just things that the people at the top might discuss with each other that they just wouldn’t share with your knee; including executives can help align different areas of the company to deliver quality outcomes for your clients and your prospects. And one of the greatest benefits of executive engagement is strategic advice and direction. You know, they’ve been around the block a few times. They’re really close to things like expansion, mergers and acquisition and business development. Those are the things that they have a law of experience, wisdom, and knowledge and 15 minutes with, you know, one of your execs can really give you some amazing insights and fast track some of your understanding about how to secure an opportunity or how to keep clients happy. But, it’s not all a bit of rose. There can be problems. It’s largely beneficial, but some of the things to be aware of, executives do need to tread a little bit careful when they’re engaging with clients and prospects. If they appear to be taking over, it may signal to the client that you don’t have control or you don’t have the skills or the authority to be the person they should be dealing with. It can really undermine you a lot. They don’t do this intentionally, but it might just be the message you’re sending. Decisions might be made without enough knowledge of the account profile or the history or some of the just logistics of how you do business. You know, execs aren’t always as close to things as you are and they may drop you into something or commit you to something that actually is can be a real challenge to deliver an unsure that’s happened to you. It’s happened to me many, many times and I’ve had to really unpick and sort of getting into a bit of damage control for things that they’ve committed to or said during the course of a sale and it might increase role ambiguity. You’re not really sure now where you sit in the whole sales cycle. Is your exec kind of taking the lead? Who’s doing what? Communication lines can get blurred. It can get a little bit messy depending on the extent to which they’ve been involved with the client during the process of securing the business or keeping the business. You don’t want your client latching onto the exec instead of you. Now that being said, the benefits far outweigh any of the problems and I would certainly encourage you to invite your executive team to engage with your major accounts. If you want to do that, here are some ideas to get you started.
Look for opportunities to foster sea-level access and networking. You know, develop and maintain those C level relationships. Encourage your executives to develop personal relationships with your clients, executives. Get them talking to your customers about how your two firms can grow together in the long-term in aware of the opportunities for them to expand the business with new product categories on market segments and find ways to create opportunities for your executives to socialize with your client’s executives. Invite the executives to attend joint goal setting meetings between the client and their account manager. Great way to do this. I can just join an annual review or a strategy session. I know sometimes it turned off because the meetings are really long, but they don’t have to be there for the entire meeting. Just invite them to part of it, if that makes sense. Talk to the executive team when you need to secure resources, remove roadblocks and obstacles and get their help to encourage the people involved in servicing your account, to collaborate with each other.
And lastly about inviting your executives to some of your internal planning meetings. You know, your quality pipeline reviews, your KPI performance reviews, your account planning strategies, whatever it might be. Getting those executives a little bit closer to your world and a little bit closer to your clients is never a bad thing.
That’s a wrap. Let me know what you think about executive engagement with your key accounts and with your prospects. Love to hear from you. You can find me on the social media platform of your choice at Warwick Brown or over at Account Manager Tips. Until next time.
Scott Ingram: To help you connect with Warwick we’ve got links to his profiles at DailySales.Tips/324 there you’ll also find a copy of the Rain Group report that he mentioned.
Once you’ve connected with Warwick and signed up for his great Account Manager Tips emails, come on back tomorrow for a great prospecting tip from Jason Bay.