Change Management Essentials for Successful Account Management Program Implementation

As few as 30% of change management programs succeed, but according to McKinsey, it’s possible to boost the success rate of organization transformation to as much as 80%. To do this you need to go beyond necessary purchases, such as software, to focus on the human element of the change management process.

It’s so easy to assume that all that’s missing in your life is software and that simply having an account management tool is going to solve all your problems. But it takes more than that. You need to leverage a change management process to ensure you create the necessary organizational shift to successfully achieve your organizational transformation.

At Kapta we have extensive experience guiding our clients through the change management process because our clients often come to us seeking change. They want to create, grow, or improve their Key Account Management (KAM) function.

For example, some of our clients wish to develop customer engagement or drive organic growth. Other clients want to use our purpose-built platform to streamline their KAM program.  Whatever the goal, we strive to help you achieve long-term success as you establish or improve your KAM program with process or software changes.

Successful change management starts with commitment and accountability.  Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to results. Without getting full buy-in across your organization, there can be no accountability. And if there is no accountability for the process, you will continue to get the same old results. So, that is an essential element of any change management process.

Let’s take a step back to see what the human side of change management looks like when implementing a new KAM process or platform.

Establish Your Objectives

Before you can roll out a new KAM tool, it’s important to figure out where you are and what you want to achieve. That’s why we typically start off with a KAM Maturity Model assessment. This initiates an open dialog about the problems you want to solve, agree on your pain points, determine where you are starting, and prioritize the improvements, goals, and outcomes to focus on at the outset.

This initial assessment can help you determine your WHY for starting this change and establish a shared vocabulary around the problem to facilitate future internal communication.

Communicate Objectives to Team Members

Once you’ve evaluated your current situation, established an objective, and determined WHY you want to initiate this process, it’s time to explain it to everyone involved. In the case of account management, that is likely anyone in your organization who has a stake in your client’s success. This might include customer service, marketing, finance, technical support, sales, and product development.

Remember that successful Account Management is a team sport that requires participation by all team members. It is not something the account manager can do well in isolation. That’s why any change to the KAM program should include the entire team.

When you introduce the program, be sure to include your WHY.  Although the team may not like the idea of change, understanding why it is happening, and the anticipated positive outcomes help you gain buy-in from those affected. Without this buy-in, the change you are seeking is unlikely to occur or have a lasting impact. So, these first two steps are essential for long-term success.

Involve the Team Throughout the Process

Your communications with the team don’t stop with a simple explanation of your plans, intentions, and desired outcomes. This is only the beginning of the process. For a successful transformation, you must involve the team throughout the process.

Keep checking in to see how things are working. Understand what issues they are encountering. Encourage them to provide feedback and offer suggestions to improve the process. If they feel like an active participant in the project, they are more likely to become enthusiastic and supportive instead of resisting the change. This, in turn, helps get others on board too.

Set Clear Expectations Early and Communicate Them Often

It’s easy to fall back into old ways when you are learning a new tool. So, it’s crucial to agree to what you are changing and stick to it if you are to drive long-term success. That’s why it’s important to explain anticipated changes and outcomes to the team from the start so they know what to expect. This prevents any misunderstanding and allows everyone to come to terms with the future state and embrace it. This helps engage your team and encourage participation.

Then as you advance through your transformation, be sure to reiterate your expected outcomes and accompanying changes so team members don’t lose sight of where you are headed as an organization. This also helps boost enthusiasm and anticipation as you move closer to reaching milestones toward your desired state.

Provide Training and Best Practices

Assess knowledge gaps and skill levels prior to training. Then group people based on their training needs. For example, everyone will require software training, but tech-savvy team members may only require minimal training to get them started while less technical staff may learn at a slower pace. So, offer slower-paced training for those who need it, then offer lots of support between training sessions to help as individuals endeavor to put their learnings into practice.

Share Resources and Learning Experiences

Consider hosting office hours as people are adopting the new process to discuss how it is going, solve any roadblocks, and answer questions that may come up. This is a great way to ensure everybody has clarity on what they are doing and encourage people to share what they are learning from experience as they apply information from training.

Identify Champions and Advocates

Enlist influencers throughout your organization who are interested in seeing the transformation succeed. Involving these advocates early on helps gain buy-in from others faster, limiting the number of laggards to win over.

Reach out to these champions directly to enlist their support and participation. Potential candidates include department managers, team leaders, and anyone else who has influence.

Getting advocates at all levels within your organization is also a great idea.

Assess Progress Often and Adjust as Needed

It’s important to continue monitoring progress throughout the year. Don’t stop after the initial round of onboarding. People learn at different rates and habit formation takes time.

Account Management leaders love tracking goals. So, establish measurable and actionable 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year goals. Then carefully monitor progress toward them. If you find you are off pace, identify the issue and adjust as needed. This could involve providing more training or fine-tuning processes until they are running smoothly.

Celebrate Incremental Progress

It’s easy to forget where you started and to lose sight of progress made over time. This can lead to teammates losing their energy and enthusiasm for the transformation. That’s why it’s critical to recognize progress and successes along the way.

Start by communicating progress and acknowledging it by celebrating as you advance toward milestones or witness new habits start to stick. Celebrating can be as simple as coffee and donuts or as elaborate as a full-scale party, depending on how momentous the milestone is that’s being recognized. This is important as it rewards team members for their active participation in helping the organization achieve its larger goal. Think of it as a way to say, “Thank you.”

Focus on The Change Management Essentials 

As McKinsey pointed out, change management programs are significantly more successful when you remember it takes more than a simple purchase, like software, to achieve a transformation. Focus on gaining buy-in across your organization and help them understand WHY the change is necessary. Then support your team throughout the process with continuous communication, involvement, clear expectations, training, and resources. Enlist advocates to help build momentum, track your progress, and adjust as needed, and don’t forget to celebrate incremental progress along the way. This will make the journey easier and more successful.
Looking for more ideas to boost the success of your account management program? Register for KAMCon. But hurry…time is running out!

Senior Engagement Manager at Kapta
Jennifer is a Senior Engagement Manager at Kapta