Are Your Strategic Accounts Underperforming? Part 3 – Establishing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)
If you have tuned into the last few blog posts, then you will be familiar with the theme – a 5 part series on best practices for optimizing strategic account performance. In the first 2 parts of the series we discussed Account Segmentation, and a Competency Model for Strategic Account Managers…Which brings us to part 3, “Establishing a set of Standard Operating Procedures for the Strategic Account Management” program to live by. If you recall, at the Chapman Group we like to oversimplify what it takes to create a successful SAM program; the right accounts, the right strategic account managers, and the right activities done with the right people / relationships. The set of Standard Operating Procedures ensures that your SAMs and their teams understand what the right activities are to achieve maximum strategic account success.
Standard Operating Procedures can be loosely defined as, “detailed, written instructions to achieve uniformity of the performance of a specific function”. In this case we are talking about the detailed, written instructions needed to achieve uniformity of strategic account performance. Developing and formalizing an SOP for your SAM program will provide the following benefits:
- Provides a reference and adds clarity to expectations and objectives for strategic account managers, cross-functional as well as geographical team members and executives involved with the SAM program
- Helps to transition, educate, and train new employees on the SAM program
- Enables SAM best practices to be shared throughout the organization – regionally and globally
- Clarifies procedures for important Responsibilities, Accountabilities, who to Consult with and who needs to be Informed (often referred to as a RACI
- Formalizes the SAM program into a business process making it…SCALABLE, PREDICTABLE, REPEATABLE, and MEASUREABLE – and COACHABLE with defined measurements and metrics – a uniformed dashboard
Besides the benefits listed above; Organizations that maintain a SAM program without a documented SOP can expect SAMs to do whatever they think is best for the account and their benefit – often more intuitive behaviors based on their own training and/or experiences. At TCG we call these activities, “random acts of courage”. A SAM program that is not formalized and full of random acts of courage can expect the performance of strategic accounts to be just as random as these acts, some performing above expectations, and others performing well below expectations. The SOP helps to even out performance and create a formalized process inclusive of best practices that then lifts the performance of all strategic accounts.