The customer list has been vetted and the customer executives have been identified…you are ready to extend your invitations. How do you invite your customer executives, so they accept? Here are a few things to consider:
1. Has the right person been identified to make contact with the customer executive?
2. Does a relationship exist today with the customer executive?
3. Has information been gathered on each customer to thoroughly brief the executive who is extending an invitation?
You only have one shot at inviting a customer executive to participate in your Executive Sponsor Program (ESP). Make sure you have identified the right individual. The highest level executive that has direct ownership of the account or the executive next in line should be the one extending the invitation. Remember, that ESP isn’t meant to be a sales opportunity, so assigning the Account Executive to extend the invitation is not recommended.
A hurdle that many of our clients face with their program is that no relationship exists with the customer executive. If this is a problem you are facing today, you will need to create a strategy for gaining access to the customer executive. Who do you know that has a relationship today with the customer executive? For those of you who aren’t challenged with a relationship issue you are well on your way to the finish line.
Information is power! Before your executives begin to make contact with the customer executives, arm your executives with the information they will need to become knowledgeable about the account. A great place to begin your information gathering is on LinkedIn. Information that is helpful includes:
• Customer Executive Bio
• Account Plan
• Management Discussion from 10-K
• Outstanding Customer Service Concerns
I know you are anxious to begin getting customer executives to participate in your ESP, but with careful preparation and thought prior to the initial contact your ability to get a “yes” on the first attempt will sky rocket.