3 ways you can solve this problem.
If you don’t understand what is important to the senior executives at your strategic account, how can you possibly determine where to focus your resources?
In most companies, when you ask an Account Manager to contact a C-Level Executive that they’ve never met at one of their accounts, they squirm.
Because in most companies this responsibility has been left with your Senior Executives. Your Senior Executives have their “top to top” meetings a couple of times a year, or they do the “meet and greet” at company and industry events. In the past account managers were not responsible for owning and driving Senior Executive relationships.
However this is changing.
This is changing because companies are getting flatter and Senior Executives don’t have time to meet with everyone they should meet. And because connecting with and building relationships with Senior Executives is so critical someone has to do it. So it makes sense for your Account Managers to fill this growing void.
However there is an enormous gap between the opportunity to build Senior Executive Relationships and the capacity of Account Managers to execute.
The opportunity with Senior Executives
- They understand the strategic issues and opportunities for their company
- They determine what gets priority: time and funding
- They directly influence how their company engages with different suppliers
- They want a business discussion with someone who's done their homework
- They expect the people they deal with to be confident and decisive
The enormous gap with Account Managers
- They are used to talking about products, not listening for or understanding strategic issues
- In SAMA's 2014 Trends and Practices survey, of 16 critical capabilities, "Selling High/Deep in Customers Organisations" and "Understanding/Analysing Financial Issues" were in the bottom quartile
- They don't know how to get a meeting with a Senior Executive, what questions to ask, or how to evaluate the success of the meeting
So if your company needs Account Managers to drive and own Senior Executive relationships here are 3 suggestions:
1. Get your Senior Executives to take Account Managers with them to Executive meetings
2. Include Account Managers in forums with customer Senior Executives
3. Train your Account Managers on how to connect with Senior Executives, and plan for and conduct effective executive meetings.
If you are serious about your Account Managers becoming more equipped to manage Senior Executive relationships, then you should be doing these things.
If you need your Account Managers to change faster, then you might consider this workshop we recently developed: http://www.gordianbusiness.com.au/executive-interviews-workshop/. It will help your Account Managers get executive meetings, plan for them more effectively and confidently conduct a business conversation with Senior Executives at your most important accounts.