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The Psychology of the Change Curve – The Top 3 Mistakes Account Management Leaders Make When Implementing New Strategies

Change is difficult whether it is personal or work-related. Organizations also struggle to successfully guide their employees through change. Studies have shown that 70% of change programs fail to achieve their goals, mostly due to employee resistance and lack of management support. But when people are committed to change, success is 30% more likely.

To help employees navigate change and reach a point where they accept it, it’s helpful to understand the psychology of the Change Curve. This curve explains the emotional process your staff experiences whenever there is a change they need to adjust to. They may be shocked or in denial initially. Then they may fear what the change or new procedure means and how it will impact them. Once they work through that they try to find the path of least resistance, expending minimal effort required. This starts while they are going through their initial training. As they begin to get more comfortable with the new situation, they gradually get on board, realizing this change is here to stay. And, finally, they embrace the change and productivity improves.

This may make sense, but Account Management Leaders still make mistakes that delay progress through the change curve when implementing new strategies. These errors result in employees’ failure to change, reducing your results. To ensure successful implementation, keep the following tips in mind so you can help your Key Account Managers (KAMs) through the transition until they embrace the new process.

Address why the change

It’s essential that you explain why a change is necessary and beneficial to your organization. So, seek buy-in from individuals at every level of your organization to ensure the change goes as smoothly as possible. Your employees are more likely to accept and embrace a change when they understand why it has to happen. Tell them how the new strategy will fulfill a need for your business and what value it will bring. And define the benefits in terms of every level and department. This tells them individually, “what’s in it for me” and gives them something to look forward to at the end of the project. Without this understanding, change is an uphill battle. But when you create a big compelling picture for why you need to do something different, change is much easier.

Failure to set up reinforcement strategies

You can have the perfect plan that fits together nicely, then complete onboarding and training on new software successfully, but your new strategy can still fail by the middle of the year. This is where your reps stop doing things like filling out account plans, meeting regularly with customers, and completing account reviews.

To avoid failure before completing implementation, you need to plan for continued training, routine check ins, and reminders while monitoring progress throughout the year. That’s because everyone involved is developing new habits and skills. And this takes time. People learn at different rates and have different backgrounds, so some will need more training and assistance than others to successfully make the transition. Encourage open communication about training and provide additional resources and support to those who need it. This will increase adoption and minimize employee turnover.

No measurement or goals in place

Account Management leaders love numbers and the best way to prove value is to show how you are tracking to your goals as an organization. So, work with your consultant or provider to establish measurable and actionable 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year goals. And even if you believe your goals will be realized, you’re bound to lose focus on them if you aren’t tracking your progress. Be sure to mark your accomplishments, progress, and growth as you strive to reach your goals. Then celebrate the positive results. Doing so will keep your team energized and enthusiastic about the new strategy while inspiring them to continue advancing toward the desired end goal.

Ask for feedback too quickly

Account Management leaders alter the change management plan based on feedback from the field too early. This often leads to plans being abandoned or unnecessarily changed based on the will of the sales reps. You need to give your employees time to see the value and benefits of the new strategy. Before that the change hasn’t had sufficient time to change your employees’ hearts and minds. Instead of rushing it, check in with your employees after a week of using the new tools. Meet with them as a team to gather feedback and understand their thoughts on using the tool. Then follow up on a routine basis. This feedback can help identify needs for additional training or finetuning of new processes to meet your organization’s needs.

In Conclusion

Change is a process that takes time. Avoid making these mistakes to ensure you successfully implement your new strategies and realize your goals. Take the time to help your employees understand why a change is needed and what benefits they’ll receive when the change is complete. Provide ample continuous training, support, reminders, and reinforcement to help your staff work through the change process. Establishing and measuring progress toward goals helps keep everyone on board and excited throughout the process. And remember to give your employees a chance to get onboard with the change process. Don’t be too quick to request feedback or abandon plans as a result. Giving them time allows them to see the value of the new tool. Then gathering input on a routine basis allows for minor adjustments along the way.

Don’t do it alone. Kapta has helped many organizations establish and improve their Key Account Management programs. Find out how we can help. Schedule a demo to speak with one of our engagement experts.

The Software is Just the Start: How to Kick your B2B Customer Engagement into High Gear

B2B customer engagement is complex. Unlike in B2C industries, B2B customer engagement involves more people representing each company. You and your team are likely to interact with multiple people or teams rather than just one person. This means you’ll want a solid, well-rounded strategy to help you make consistent progress.

 

Software Isn’t Enough

You can’t rely on any one tool or action to make customer engagement happen. Excellent customer engagement comes from a combination of different inputs. Many excellent tools exist to help you, including software like Kapta, but they only work as part of a complete plan. Software alone cannot make customer engagement happen.

What else do you need to think about to improve engagement? A complete B2B customer engagement plan includes at least 4 other inputs:

1) Actions

The right software and tools will help you know when to act and what actions to take, but you still have to make it happen yourself. Customer engagement is easier when you’re actively involved with the account instead of operating with as few touches as possible.

Make your actions count. Don’t do busywork with your customers. Each touch should be effective and should have a distinct impact on the client. Too many actions without much to show for it means you’re operating very inefficiently, which could damage your relationship with the customer down the road. Use software to guide your actions and add more value to the customer.

2) Behaviors

Customer behaviors are changing. If you don’t keep up, you might be replaced by a company that will accurately meet the needs of the new customer. Your organization’s behaviors need to easily accommodate your customers and make it incredibly simple to engage with you.

Your customer-facing teams need to prioritize value. It’s not enough to just provide the product or service the customer is buying from you. Fantastic customer engagement happens when you habitually focus on going the extra mile for them. Create organizational behaviors that naturally add value to your customers.

3) Change Management

Change management isn’t just an internal practice. Any time you make changes, you will have to lead your customers through those changes as well. Some changes don’t result in a dramatic shift for the customer, while others do. Your customer engagement plan must include procedures on how to lead your customers through any organizational changes that come up.

Learn about the challenges they see from their perspective and respond accordingly. Analyze your customer interactions to understand every point at which they connect to your system, and how that’s likely to be affected by the change.

This part of your customer engagement plan can really benefit from complementary software. You can keep updated metrics, collect usage data, and get a clearer picture of how, when, and why your customers interact with your business.

4) Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool to promote customer engagement. Having an immediate benefit for customers who are actively engaging with you can keep them coming back and encourage other customers to improve their engagement. The type of reinforcement you provide depends on your industry and business environment.

 

All of these pieces work together to make a more complete customer engagement plan. You need a strategy in place that considers actions, behaviors, change management, reinforcement, and software together. Focusing too much on one component, especially the software, will leave you with an incomplete plan.

 

Define Your Business Transformation

To make the step from where you are now to better customer engagement, you need to define what that looks like in your context. What are you hoping to achieve by transforming your business?

Know what you’re looking to achieve before you make any changes to your customer engagement plan. You need to be able to measure your progress in order to know if you’re making the right changes or not. Without defining what you want first, you’re gambling that you’ll be able to reach a goal you can’t clearly identify.

As a B2B company, your success is directly tied to the success of your customers. How you engage with customers and how you encourage customer engagement should tie into mutual success for both of you.

 

 

How to Reach Your Goal

Whatever you want to accomplish through improved customer engagement, the goal is to first kick that into high gear. There’s a balance that you need to get within your own team to make it happen. You need to have the right people with the right skills exhibiting the right set of behaviors.

Sounds vague, but you’ll fill in the blanks when you know what you’re trying to accomplish. The right team of people will look different in your organization than it would in another. But, picking the right people is an essential part of getting everything else right. If you don’t have a good team working with you, your efforts to refine your process will be fruitless.

Choosing your team takes time and decisive action on your part as the team leader. Prioritize the skills you need, remembering that your team will be directly customer-facing.

Crafting behaviors in your organization requires you to know what you want to accomplish and how you want to get there. Behaviors are made by reducing your goals and the paths to those goals down into actionable steps that you do all the time. The behaviors your team exhibits should be pushing towards greater customer engagement at all times.

Once you’ve got the basics build-blocking, you can add in software to give your performance and all your efforts a boost. It’s vital to build on a pre-existing foundation instead of counting on the software to do the heavy lifting for you. Create something scalable, then scale it exponentially with software that can help you improve customer engagement.

 

Conclusion

Kapta has helped B2B companies around the world to improve customer engagement and create lasting partnerships. But, no software can solve all your problems on its own. Without your efforts to put together all the other pieces of the puzzle, it can easily fall flat.

We recommend a more thorough approach to improve customer engagement. Take time to focus on improving each part of your customer engagement plan before introducing software that will elevate your entire effort.