Early in 2011 Pursuit NHA was invited to discuss how we develop the skills of a team of European Account Managers with the purpose of sharing best practice, rising to the challenge of managing accounts across Europe and agreeing the critical processes for the team.
In order to fully understand the challenges the team faced and how we could support them further, we started the process by interviewing a sample of the Account Team and Senior Managers. Pursuit NHA discussed our findings with the project sponsors and we worked closely together to prioritise the module content.
The identified gaps were:
- Lack of sales call structure across the team
- Different approaches from the team to Customer Business Plans
- A lack of clear methodology to translate plans into measurable actions
As the team had a wide range of experience and skill levels, it was important to engage all of the team during the “classroom” training. By using a high number of group and syndicate sessions, the team pulled together their approach to European Account Management and the individual actions they needed to take in their local market.
As these sessions were very practical, the team worked on “live” customer documents and scenarios. The Management Team was fully engaged in the construction and delivery of the training, resulting in a team of coaches who were able to consolidate and develop their team's skills over the coming months.
After a short period of 6-8 weeks, the team returned for a follow up session, to report on their implementation and talk through their individual plans to move the business forward.
As a result of this project, the team has significantly changed their approach to managing key accounts.
The team is now working to a defined call structure against which the General Manager can evaluate performance and actively coach/support the structure. Communication has also improved across the team, as each Account Manager is talking a “sales language”, which they share, to drive best practice.
By introducing a ‘Customer Hierarchy of Needs’ each Account Manager is now fully aware of their knowledge gaps by key account and have been tasked to find out any missing information in order to clearly understand customer needs.
By establishing common sales tools, the team has made positive steps in understanding how to influence key customers.