Change is difficult in any organization. When the change you’re making is a huge shift in how the organization operates, it’s even more difficult to get things going in the new direction. At their core, all organizations are made up of a lot of different individuals, most of whom are opposed to changes.
If you’re going to implement a Key Account Management (KAM) strategy in your organization, you’ll need to tread carefully to make sure it’s done right. There are a lot of large and small barriers to change in every organization. Although they aren’t the same in every organization, barriers must be taken on effectively for the change to be implemented successfully.
Establishing the Value of Key Account Management
As the one responsible for ushering in the new KAM program, you have to be the champion for the program. You’re the one who must be working to establish how valuable a KAM strategy will be for your organization. It’s up to you to demonstrate to your team, employees, peers, and others in the organization that KAM is worth the change.
How do you convince a whole organization of employees that KAM is worth the trouble of going through a huge change? There are three main parts to this:
Direct the Team Focus to the Value Key Account Management Brings
Make sure you turn the focus of the KAM discussion towards the value that a KAM strategy offers to an organization. Give the reasons WHY this change should be put into place in your organization. Be specific to your organization instead of giving general reasons that can be applied to anyone. Demonstrate the value that KAM brings to your specific organization to show the people in your organization how necessary the change process is.
Emphasize the Individual Benefits from Key Account Management
It’s one thing for you to speak at an organizational level and explain the value of KAM to the organization, but you also need to speak on an individual level. Again, it’s best to be specific and show how KAM can benefit individuals at all levels. This is something that will be organization-specific and can’t really be universally applied.
Quantify the ROI
Value is a great topic if it’s something everyone can understand. Numbers can help you get your point across better than words alone, especially when you’re talking with influencers, management, or executives. Quantify the value of KAM for your organization. Since the KAM system has yet to be implemented you will be forced to focus on the potential, but this can be very helpful for demonstrating the value of KAM and why your organization needs to go through change to implement it.
Embracing Change Management
The principles of change management can be applied in any organization to help make a transition smoother. When implementing a KAM strategy in your organization, change management might make the difference between complete implementation and sporadic, non-committed implementation.
It’s important for you to acknowledge that most people in the organization will be opposed to changing, even if they understand the value that the change will bring. This is where change management comes in. Using the right methods, you can help to usher in the changes peacefully without losing or discouraging as many people along the way.
Strategies for Overcoming Barriers to Change
There are many different ways to practice change management, but these are some of the best ways to help bring in a new KAM strategy:
Don’t wait until you can see problems in order to deal with them. Be systematic about addressing problems. Think ahead about what issues might arise and be ready for when they do happen. If you can anticipate many of the major problems, you’ll save a lot of trouble later on and will help your staff get adjusted to the change more quickly.
Get Needed Buy-In
Buy-in isn’t just something that you get from top executives. You need buy-in from all levels of your organization so that each team leader, department manager, and influential person will be on your side to help convince people to adapt the change. Seek out the influencers in your organization and work hard to get them committed to the idea, so they can help you get the change more widely accepted.
Don’t do things in secret. When uncertainty exists around people’s jobs and the future of the organization, you need to be open about what’s happening and the next steps forward. Secretive decisions and actions will make people more nervous and anxious about the whole situation.
Facilitate Staff Changes and Training
Many employees in the organization may feel like they’re on their own when changes are occurring. You can help them to feel more secure in their jobs by facilitating the necessary training for the new KAM strategy. It’s better to over-train rather than undertraining, so take the time to make sure all of the organization’s employees know exactly what the new strategy involves and how they fit in. If new skills are needed, assist those employees in gaining those new skills by providing avenues for them to equip themselves. This will be key for retention during the transition.
Appeal to Reasoning
People usually resist large changes as a knee-jerk reaction to the uncertainty that comes along with change. If you can appeal to people’s reasoning and help them understand why the change is necessary and how it will be done, many people will accept it. You need to work to bring people in your organization past their initial, fearful reactions and into a more comfortable understanding of what’s happening and how they relate to it.
Own the Change Yourself
For this transition to work, you have to be the champion. Own the change and work to get others on board with it as well. You need to champion the transition to KAM, or else there won’t be enough passion or motivation for people to feel the need to change. It’s easier for a large change to take place when someone is there to consistently push it forward.
Encourage Others to Own the Change
Each person needs to feel like they have a place in the new KAM system. They must feel invested in it if they’re going to thrive in the new organizational environment. KAM is an all-encompassing strategy, so it’s important for each person in the organization to realize that they have a part to play. Help individuals to see how they fit into the system so they can get invested and be part of the change instead of resisting it.
Err towards Over-Communicating
Because uncertainty can make everything tense and difficult, communication is necessary for managing the change. It’s better to communicate too much instead of too little, so err on the side of over-communicating rather than keeping too much to yourself.
Recognize and Acknowledge Company Culture
Every organization has its own unique company culture. You need to understand the culture in your organization and accommodate it however necessary. Trying to implement large changes while also resisting or fighting against company culture will make everything more difficult for you and may hurt the chances of the changes sticking.
Allow Flexibility and Buffer for Unexpected Events
Things won’t always go as planned. You can’t force a change through by sheer willpower. Plan some buffer room for yourself and for others in your organization to make mistakes or do things differently than expected. This is going to help you stay on track, even if there are setbacks in the transition process. Flexibility is going to help keep retention rates higher, because employees will feel like they can take the time they need.
Reinforcing Changes and Decisions
Part of being the champion for a Key Account Management program is working to reinforce the need after the changes have started to take place. It’s not enough to tell people about the benefits in the beginning and leave it alone. You need to remind them what they’re working towards and keep updating them on how the changes are progressing. This reinforcement needs to happen regularly once you’ve started implementing the new KAM program.
Reinforcing the need for KAM simply means reminding people why the organization decided to make the changes in the first place, what the long-term benefit is (individually and otherwise), and the progress towards seeing the changes fully implemented. As the KAM champion, reinforcing the need for change and the reasons behind the change helps keep those fresh in people’s minds instead of any frustrations they may have with the change.
Organizational changes are never easy. Change management can help you to implement a new KAM strategy more smoothly by overcoming some of the most common barriers to change. With an effective change management strategy in place, it will be easier for you to help your organization begin to implement a KAM system. For more information on how Kapta can help you implement your Key Account Management program, check out our consulting and services offerings.