Are Your Strategic Accounts Underperforming? Maybe You Have the Wrong People Working on those Accounts…PART 2 – Competency Model for Strategic Account Managers
By: Denny Chapman Jr.
Think about this for a minute…If you needed to have major life saving surgery, would you simply select the doctor that had the best grades coming out of medical school…? …or the doctor who has won the most awards? …or the doctor that has the most patients? My guess is the answer to all of those are “No”, but you could say that any one of those is a part of a longer list of competencies you would look for in a doctor to do your surgery. Staying with this example, I am sure that you would want to select a doctor who had done this type of procedure before, hopefully many times before. And I can also imagine you would want to select a doctor that not only makes you feel comfortable and has a personality that meshes with yours and that also has a passion for his profession…These are only a couple of items that you may look for before aligning yourself with a doctor to perform your surgery.
Similarly to the example above…Your strategic accounts need a Strategic Account Manager that has the competencies that will make both the customer and the supplier organizations successful. At The Chapman Group, we sometimes over-simplify what makes a successful SAM program into the following: the right accounts (which we covered in Part 1 – Account Segmentation), the right strategic account managers, and the right activities done with the right relationships. In this blog post, which is Part 2 of 5, we will cover the topic of the right Strategic Account Manager, and I will give to you the framework of a competency model that you can employ immediately within your organization to help identify, hire, train and educate Strategic Account Managers.
Using this model is straightforward; for each of the following 18 competencies, rate the Strategic Account Manager, or candidate on a 5 answer scale that goes from Very Strong to Very Weak, with Average as the middle choice. Generally speaking, when we (The Chapman Group) implement this model with a client, we weight each of the 18 competencies based on factors like industry, types of accounts, and location, to name a few. But for these purposes, you can use the model under the assumption that each competency is just as important as the next. We also recommend that you execute this type of competency assessment in a 360◦ format including peers, leaders and the candidate themselves. So without further delay…here is the Strategic Account Manager competency model.
BIAS FOR ACTION – Has a sense of urgency, as it relates to meeting business objectives, challenges, and any issues that may arise. Strong follow-up, tracking, and monitoring.
BUSINESS ACUMEN – Has an intuitive sense of understanding how companies make money which enables him/her to understand the market, profitability and the big picture of goals & challenges.
ABILITY TO INTERACT AT SENIOR LEVELS – Has the confidence to interact with the senior level and challenge them, when appropriate, and establish the appropriate credibility. Knows and can relate to the challenges senior executives face and can effectively demonstrate knowledge of their issues. (SEE PREVIOUS POST ON ACCESSING SENIOR LEVEL LEADERS)
CONFLICT RESOLUTION – Is not afraid to deal with issues, and able to diffuse problems in a fair and reasonable manner quickly through cooperation.
CREATIVE & INNOVATIVE – Presents new ideas and concepts or expands on existing ideas and concepts. Is willing to take measured risks.
CLIENT CENTRIC – Committed to account’s needs and expectations. Will lead a team to proactively focus on the client both short and long term.
MANAGES & MEASURES PERFORMANCE – Sets strategic and tactical direction and realistic business objectives. Knows their performance measurements.
EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATOR – Articulates message and effectively interacts with team to ensure that the message delivered is understood. Keeps management and account aware of key issues, challenges, or results, on a regular and timely basis (as appropriate).
LEADERSHIP – Guides, encourages, inspires, builds trust, challenges, and gives incentive for action that enables other to succeed.
EFFECTIVE NEGOTIATOR – Collaborates in challenging situations to arrive at mutually beneficial win/win outcomes.
FLEXIBLE IN VARIOUS TYPES OF ORGANIZATIONS – Understands the organizational landscape of varying businesses and can navigate both formally and informally to achieve required outcomes.
PERSEVERANCE – Focus on meeting expectations regardless of internal/external roadblocks or challenges. A strong desire to succeed.
PLANNING – Forward thinking about activities and timelines. Anticipates and accounts for issues and challenges.
PRIORITY ORIENTED – Focuses on the hi-value activities that result in meeting the necessary goals while minimizing activities that sidetrack performance.
PROBLEM SOLVER – Asks questions that determine the root causes of an issue. Determines and analyzes alternatives to arrive at the best course of action.
PROCESS ORIENTED – Uses resources in a sequential and logical manner to meet timelines and accountabilities.
RESULTS DRIVEN – Focused on and motivated by overachievement and develops team to overachieve.
TEAM BUILDER – Selects and utilizes appropriate team members to deliver on expected outcomes. Develops team members and relies on their knowledge and skills to achieve results. The team is the number one priority.
***Note: Any competency assessment should never be used as the sole criteria for hiring, selecting and/or not hiring and/or selecting any employee into any position.