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 7 and 8.
Myth #7 - We don’t need anyone to manage this program. Everyone will know what to do.
People are always amazed at first when I tell them to launch a program of this magnitude will take 50% of a program manager’s time for the first 90-180 days. As you can imagine, we are the other 50% that brings the experience, best practices and tools for success.
Once we get to the launch phase, no matter how much we prepare our customers up front, they are surprised by what needs to be done and what it’s going to take to sustain a program like this. Depending on the size and scope of your organization (how structured), this may be a person’s full time or part time responsibility to manage this program.
Myth #8 – Just have the Executive Sponsor go meet with the Customer Sponsor?
The question you have to ask yourself is what does a good Engagement look like? I have seen a variety of answers to this question.
Candidly, if you think having an executive go to dinner or have a one hour meeting once a year with quarterly touch points is going to reach your objectives for this program, I think you will be very disappointed. Why? You will have pockets of excellence, when an executive that goes beyond just having that dinner or annual engagement with their assigned executive will become your super stars. The rest of the executives either don’t know are don’t care about growing the customer relationship over time. The answer to the question, “what does a good engagement look like,” will drive how structured your program needs to be and what kind of resources you’ll need to sustain the program after the launch.