I have found eight common myths when rolling out an Executive Sponsor Program. They are:
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.
Today, I’m going to focus on Myths 5 and 6.
Myth #5 – We have 40 executives, let’s give everyone 2 accounts. We need 80 accounts in the program
First of all, you don’t want to pick accounts by how many executives you have. This is where you need to stay true to your goals for the program. If your focus is growing and retaining your most strategic customers, then you need to pick customers that fit that profile. I was in a meeting last week where a Sales Executive said, I want a subset of these accounts to be new and let’s leverage our executives’ relationships to “open the doors”. This is a GREAT sales strategy. However, it’s doesn’t make for a good Executive Sponsor Program.
Why? Because only a few talented executives within your organization can pull this off. If you use this as a sales strategy then you can find those executives that have these strengths and put a plan in place to leverage their talents.
Myth #6 – What’s hard about assigning some executives to our top accounts. I want the top 100 accounts matched in 90 days
This one can be tough to overcome with a hard charging Executive who has made this request. This typically means, they aren’t engaged in the program and they just want results. Although most are well intentioned, you need to take the time, albeit painful at times, to educate this executive.
Why? Because this is an unrealistic expectation for the program. Also, I’ve talked to 150 billion dollar organizations that only have 150 accounts in the program and evolved to that number over time. Also, matching executives is a lot of science but some art as well. Making sure you match the right executives is one of the cornerstones for success.
I will discuss "Common Myths 7 & 8 in Launching and Sustaining an Executive Sponsor Program" in my next blog.