Are Your Strategic Accounts Underperforming? Part 5 – Coaching the Process
By: Denny Chapman Jr.
You would be hard pressed to find any great performer, in any time that achieved optimal levels of performance without the aid and guidance of a coach. Michael Jordan didn’t win a NBA championship until Phil Jackson coached him to 6 rings; Baryshnikov only became a great dancer under the tutelage of Alexander Pushkin; Cal Ripken Jr owes his hall of fame career to 2 coaches – his father, Cal Ripken Sr, and fellow hall of famer Earl Weaver; and Oscar winning actor Robert DeNiro looked to acting coach Stella Adler for direction and advice throughout his acting career. So what is the secret of coaching performers to new levels of top performance? The answer is that they all coached to a process supported by tangible and understood measurements and metrics; . Phil Jackson had his triangle offense and zen-like process for leading and gaining buy in from large egos off the court…Stella Adler followed and directed her pupils in the process of method acting…Even the late great Earl Weaver coached to a process that he called “pitching, defense, and the three-run homerun”. This secret, coaching to a process, also applies to Strategic Account Management where, if done correctly and diligently, you will be able to coach strategic account managers (and their teams) to new heights of performance and success.
In the previous 4 parts, we dissected components of the SAM process to determine if those gaps were holding back the performance of SAM accounts. In the same articles, we also covered the solutions to close those performance gaps. Specifically, the components we discussed that impact the performance of strategic accounts included the Segmentation of Strategic Accounts, Competency Model for Hiring strategic account managers, SAM Program Standard Operating Procedures, and the Metric-based Strategic Account Plan. In this 5th and final installment we will now discuss what The Chapman Group calls the Coaching Continuum, a method for effectively coaching the entire strategic account management process and program.
The Coaching Continuum consists of 6 principles/activities that a strategic account management leader needs to do regularly to optimize success. These activities are:
- Goal Setting – Ensuring that all teams and team members have goals that are understood, agreed to, and are aligned to account needs and expectations. These goals should be developed through collaboration.
- Recruiting & Selection – The SAM coach needs to develop the criteria by which team members and team leaders will be identified and selected. It is important to understand that anyone recruited or selected must want to be on a team, and that as situations change – so should team members.
- Training & Development – An effective coach will recognize the competencies and/or skills that are needed by SAM team members and will ensure that the appropriate development programs are offered and completed.
- Motivating – Successful SAM coaches provide motivators that are aligned to goals and objectives of the SAM team and program. These motivators help to drive desired behavior and give purpose for all team members to participate and put in extra effort.
- Appraising – A SAM coach must have monthly, quarterly, and semi-annual internal and external business reviews to assess key performance indicators against documented expectations.
- Counseling – SAM coaches should take the time to address both positive and not so positive (negative) situations within the SAM team, and take the appropriate actions. Counseling can, and should be a positive development action.
In addition to implementing the coaching continuum as described above, a SAM coach may have additional responsibilities that include collaborative action planning/joint scorecarding, priority management, and keeping up to date metrics and measurements on the performance of the SAM program, SAM teams, and SAM accounts (i.e. on the SAM Dashboard).
As you can probably appreciate by now, the role of a SAM coach, and the act of coaching the SAM process could be (and usually is) the most instrumental component of over performing strategic accounts – SAM programs with an effective process coaches and a defined coaching process, far outperform those programs that do not have a coach or a coaching process. I will leave you with this following thought on an effective coach that was conveyed to me during my many years of playing high-level athletics; “Coach never told me anything; he just helped me realize what I needed to do, why I needed to do it, and what I would gain from doing it. He then helped do it. He was really there when I needed him- it was always all about me”.