When I talk to organizations about launching and sustaining an Executive Sponsor Program, I have found eight common myths or misconceptions about this program. We start with the premise that this program is outside of any sales transaction/deal and is focused on your most strategic customers who make up >70% of your revenue. The following are common misconceptions we often see:
1. We don't need the CEO and/or President involved to be successful.
2. Each Executive Sponsor can effectively handle 10 accounts.
3. The Executive knows how important this is. They are senior people; they don't need training/overview.
4. As long as they are considered to be an executive, they should be expected to take accounts
5. We have 40 executives; let’s give everyone 2 accounts. We need 80 accounts.
6. We can assign 100 accounts in 90 days and still be successful.
7. We don't need anyone to manage this program. Everyone will know what to do.
8. Just have our Executive meet with the Customer Executive. We don't need a lot of structure.
Myth #1 – We don’t need the CEO or President involved in order to be successful.
If you don’t have a truly customer-centric culture, you are kidding yourself, especially if you think by sending out a few communications that your company’s executives and sales organization will fall in line. Why? They have too many competing priorities. This program is a lead-by-example program. The President and/or CEO must make it a priority for the company. To clarify, you don’t need them to be one of the Executive Sponsors with accounts. You want them to be the ultimate Executive Sponsor for the program.
Myth #2 – Each Executive Sponsor can handle 10 accounts.
When we are engaged to launch and sustain an Executive Sponsor Program we find that the sales force generally tends to be more transactional. Because of this, the conversations aren’t relevant to Executives, and thus, they tend to not be invited back (if they get the first meeting).
The reason this is critical is because when you have low business acumen skills within your sales force, the Executive Sponsor assigned to that account will have to do the heavy lifting in the conversations with the Customer Executive (low leverage). To set the Executive Sponsor up for success, you need to keep the number of accounts they have to one or two. As the business acumen skills improve, the leverage can become higher with your executives.
I will discuss “Common Myths 3 & 4 in Launching and Sustaining an Executive Sponsor Program” in my next blog.