We hold this truth to be self evident: In order to keep and grow your key accounts, you need to demonstrate value for your customers, time and time again. This is always the case, but it’s especially true in an economic recession, when budgets are tight and the cushion is gone—you have to show you’re money well spent, or people will stop spending money on you.
To deliver real results, first you need a multidimensional action plan that ladders up to key strategic objectives for your customers and keeps your internal team on track to deliver. Then you need to execute on that plan. That takes a culture and a mindset that supports execution all the way through from strategic planning to metrics reporting.
FranklinCovey is a consulting organization that has studied execution across thousands of teams in organizations of all kinds. They identify 4 major risk factors for successful execution, and 4 key disciplines to manage these risks. We’ve mapped those disciplines to a successful account planning process, and we’ll highlight below how the right KAM platform can support your team’s execution mindset.
Execution Risks: How Execution Fails
These all-too-common mistakes lead teams astray and derail execution:
- Managers and work teams don’t know the goal. Has this ever happened to you? You receive an assignment or embark on a task without a full understanding of the context—what you’re ultimately trying to achieve? Too often, leadership understands the big picture goals, but doesn’t adequately or consistently communicate those to managers and work teams.
- Managers and teams don’t know what to do to achieve the goal. It’s one thing to say you’re going to boost your customer’s standing in a crowded marketplace. It’s another to actually do it. Big goals are the right place to start, but they’re not the right place to end the planning process—you need to break them down into meaningful action items.
- They don’t keep score. Too often, teams lack clear metrics to track against as they work towards their goals. This could be that metrics are hard to define, collect, and use for revised planning—it could also be that teams just aren’t in the habit of doing so.
- They are not held accountable. When things are moving quickly, it’s all too easy to skip the regular check-ins, both internally and with your customer. Without these, it’s also easy to lose sight of the objective, and ultimately, fail to deliver.
Execution Disciplines: How to Drive Results
Whatever field you work in, and whatever you’re trying to achieve, there are fundamental disciplines that help you get there. Here are the 4 Execution Disciplines defined by FranklinCovey:
- Focus on the wildly important. Never lose sight of the overarching purpose: What are you trying to do for your customers? What are you trying to accomplish internally? Make sure everyone—not just executive leadership—understands the goal.
- Act on the Lead Measures. After you’ve set your wildly important goal, you have to do the work to break it down into tangible tactics that will help move the needle.
- Keep a compelling scoreboard. Once you’ve broken down your big goals into discrete objectives, actions, and tasks, you can start to assign KPIs at every level. There are a couple of things to remember here:
- Metrics don’t have to be perfect to be important. Sometimes you’ll have clear, quantitative data to track (such as page visits, resource downloads, sales, webinar attendance, etc) and sometimes you’ll have to look for more qualitative or nuanced indicators of success. The important thing is to define them at the start of the initiative, track them periodically, and use them to refine your thinking and action as you go.
- You don’t have to hit every metric to be successful. Sometimes we suspect people avoid assigning KPIs to initiatives because they’re worried they’ll look bad if they don’t hit them. The mindset here needs to be one of constant improvement; you put a stake in the ground, identify what you want to accomplish and how you might track it, and use what you learn to get better. If you fail to set metrics because you’re afraid you won’t hit them, you’ll never learn how to actually help your clients.
- Create a cadence of accountability. Make time to check in with your teams. It’s essential. We often recommend quick “stand-ups” every week, with more in-depth situation analysis and strategic refinement sessions every month. However you do it, the point is to reset the team to the original, wildly important goal; track status of lead measures; review data and refine the plan if need be; and recognize contributors while finding opportunities for improvement if necessary.
How Tech Supports an Execution Mindset
Tunnel vision happens to the best of us—especially when we’re busy. So in addition to establishing execution disciplines as part of your organization’s culture, it’s important to have purpose-driven technology that supports your team in their execution mindset.
For us, the most applicable use of technology here is account planning. Ideally, your account planning technology is designed to support execution disciplines in the following ways:
1. Focus on the wildly important. Your account planning process should begin with big picture strategic imperatives, and everything that follows should be anchored to those goals. Furthermore, it’s important that every member of the team—at every level—understand the big picture purpose of even the smallest tasks. This informs how they approach them and keeps them thinking critically about their everyday actions. A platform like Kapta keeps the big picture objectives highly visible to every contributor at all times, which supports teams as they focus on the wildly important goals.
2. Act on Lead Measures. Account planning tools should help you through the process of breaking up big goals into manageable milestones, tactics, and tasks. This should be a visual framework that prompts executional thinking. The Kapta account planning framework breaks it down like this:
- Goals: The big picture growth your customer is trying to achieve. >>
- Objectives: Specific milestones along the way. >>
- Actions: Tactical initiatives to help you reach those milestones. >>
- Tasks: Discreet action items you can assign to individual owners on your team.
3. Keep a compelling scoreboard. The right tech platform will help automate the score keeping function, tracking KPIs and milestones in real time so you can feel confident you’re keeping tabs on the right metrics, even when your attention is elsewhere. This is where the Measure piece of our KAM Process comes in, and Kapta does this automatically.
4. Create a cadence of accountability. Kapta flags anytime it’s been too long since you checked in with your customers, helping you stay current with your external accountability. And when you do check in with customers—or internally—you’ll have clear, visual data points to track progress against.
Building and maintaining an Execution Mindset requires a big human lift at your organization—after all, it’s a mindset, and minds are human. But the right platforms can support the right behaviors by providing automated, visual, regular prompts to your team to make sure they’re taking the right approach to highly effective account planning.
When your team has an Execution Mindset, prompted and supported by purpose-driven technology, you’ll be able to deliver and demonstrate value for your customers time and time again—and that’s how you protect your current revenue and your future growth.
To see how Kapta supports an Execution Mindset, schedule a personal demo today.