Executive Sponsor ProgramS
CHALLENGE #1 Executives are busy and unfocused on the Executive Sponsor Program. The biggest hurdle to success is gaining buy-in and engagement from the executives within your organization. Your program will not get off the ground without executive support. It's easy as it initially appears for them to find time for meeting customers or strategic planning with account teams. A phrase we often hear is “If there are no urgent issues with the client and we are not close to the renewal date, then let’s delay the call until next month.” Unfortunately next month’s call never comes, as next month is equally as busy. Instead the account team is put into a holding pattern, waiting until a crisis occurs or the renewal date is imminent, and by then its TOO LATE to build the necessary executive level relationship that will help.
CHALLENGE #2 Account Managers are busy and unfocused on the Executive Sponsor Program. Your account teams are struggling to keep up with changing territories, turnover in customer accounts, forecasting the quarter end, responding to customer requests… They are continuously in a REACTIVE mode, leaving little time for strategizing and nurturing relationships between corporate and customer executives. The issue is compounded when BOTH the executive and account manager are focused on short term goals; the executive claims “The account manager never arranged a meeting” and the account manager responds “The executive sponsor never replied to my request”. We have the best practices to overcome this challenge.
CHALLENGE #3 The Customer does not see value of having an Executive Sponsor. If the customer executives don’t understand the business value of your organization’s Executive Sponsor Program, or just as worse, they can’t convey the value to their management, they will not engage. It’s likely that other vendors are also competing with your client to engage them in similar programs. How will you make your program stand out? Without demonstrating how your program will enable the client executive to achieve their business and career goals, they will choose to spend their valuable time elsewhere. We have experience in dramatically increasing the recruitment rate and retention over time of key client executives in ESP’s.
CHALLENGE #4 The executive sponsor program is focused on ACTIVITY and not RESULTS. People often view the program internally as a matter of just matching executives to accounts and ensuring each customer has 4 or so meetings annually. Such a limited view ignores what is truly required deliver a thriving executive sponsor program:
(a) Best practices, tools and advocacy from a central ESP manager to minimize the internal time commitment while maximizing the customer benefits.
(b) Process to continually measure clients’ perspectives of the program’s business value.
(c) Governance structure to ensure urgent customer action items and account intelligence are reacted on throughout the company. Internally this information can be a key lever to initiate customer experience improvements. We have these processes.
CHALLENGE #5 Measuring the wrong thing. Executive Sponsor Programs often have very clearly defined objectives involving building relationships at higher levels within accounts to increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and drive new sales revenue. So it’s constantly surprising that these programs are measured in terms of the number of executive meetings per year. Focusing on activity does not necessarily drive results. A better set of metrics would be in overcoming sales pains, such as establishing executive relationships across multiple client divisions, overcoming obstacles with a key influencer, or gaining face-time with a target senior executive. We can show you how to measure the right things and link Executive Sponsor Program engagement to sales revenue over time, creating a transparent and consistent Return on Investment for your organization.