Why is it important to have a Sales & Account Management Framework?
Experts in people development, Alan Thompson and David Brown, discuss what it means to have a sales capability in your company.
Find out the keys steps your company can make in this short chat.
Sales & Account Management Framework Transcription
Alan Thompson: Hi, David. After busy few weeks, it’s good to have that opportunity to chat again.
During our last discussion, you introduced why sales capability is important to any organisation, drawing from your own experience and insights, a career of working with sales and account management teams. And you specifically mentioned the link between infrastructure and the ability to actually perform as an effective sales function. So we said we’d get back together again and pick up on one of the key elements of the sales infrastructure, and that is having a sales and account management capability framework in place to underpin your business. So maybe to keep the discussion off, as someone who’s had responsibility for managing a large team of sales and account managers, why was having a set of clearly defined capabilities important to you?
David Brown: It was really important, Alan, because for me it was about the fundamentals and getting those right, setting a standard for, I guess, what good looks like. I think it’s important to be really clear to everyone about the knowledge, skills, practises and behaviours that are expected from a capable sales and account manager in order to be successful. So having something in place, make sure everyone’s on the same page. And if you’ve got a tiered framework, then that also enables a lifting of standards across a whole team.
It’s worth noting, you know, to keep things pragmatic and not overly complicated.
So at least to start with, focus the number of capabilities on the areas that you see is crucial to success. So, for example, at a high level, this may include areas like influence, negotiation, building, long term relationships and so on. And again, to keep it manageable, I would suggest a maximum of three tiers or levels of expected competency that make it clear what’s expected at foundation and then intermediate and then expert level. And I guess to sum up, sales and account management practices have changed a lot in the last 30, 20 or even ten years. But what hasn’t changed for me is the importance of having a deep understanding of your customer and their needs. And a good framework helps people be more effective at developing that.
Alan: Thanks, David. That’s a couple of really great examples here of why that’s important to kick our discussion off. And I particularly like the point you made about this being useful for everyone and helping to lift standards across the whole team. Are there any other examples of what else a good sales capability framework can enable or support?
David: Yeah, I think the key one is learning personal growth and development and then the consequent uptick that you get in result or that you can get in result from raising standards. So I mentioned intermediate and expert a moment ago and I recall that one business I worked for introduced a sales and account management framework along those lines. It was amazing the response they got from people who all of a sudden had a much clearer progression path. And when overnight it became clear what they needed to do to achieve that progression. The increased rewards available might have had something to do with it also. But the point is, without the framework, none of that would have been possible. And I should add that the business results improved pretty significantly as well because of that approach. Given how straightforward it was to develop. I recall that business wondering in the end why they hadn’t done it years before, which is quite interesting. Also, I think given the current focus on retention and recruitment for many, many businesses and a scarcity of talent, using a framework to provide a structured development map with training and development solutions to match is a great way to keep developing people so they are motivated to stay with you. And then again, when you’re recruiting, it can be really helpful to use the framework and the desired level capability to input into your recruitment tools.
Alan: Brilliant. Again, some really great additional points, David, thank you. And importantly, what you mentioned that it does lead to people feeling valued due to having a view of sort of a progression pathway. And then really importantly, the link to improved business results and building a sales and account management framework from scratch can maybe seem a bit daunting. But what you’ve outlined of keeping it simple and pragmatic should maybe help put people’s minds at rest if this doesn’t already exist within their business. So and as you’ve mentioned, it’s certainly worthwhile doing given the benefits that it can bring. But maybe there’s a last question. Once developed, is that it? Is it a once and done activity?
David: Maybe once upon a time, Alan. But like I said, things change so fast. No, nothing is forever, I
guess. I suppose a different way to look at the question is how often may it be reviewed? And the answer to that is it depends. That might sound like a politicians answer, but what I really mean by that is it depends on what’s happening around you in your market, what’s happening with your customers, with your competition and with weight of economic conditions. So, for example, to bring in, in recent times the pandemic has led to many more relationships and negotiations having to be conducted virtually, like we do now. Yep. And this requires different capabilities, of course, than doing it face to face.
So a capability might need to be added or updated on your framework to reflect the what and how related to doing things virtually instead of the old-fashioned way reviewing. Also I think depends on how often you review your own business strategy. So your sales and account management approach should without question align with your business strategy. So ideally they should be as up to date as each other. And last, but probably most importantly for me, it depends on how you’re performing as a business. And for a business that’s underperforming, I’d expect the approach to be reviewed more often as we search for answers. But equally successful businesses can’t afford to be complacent or they may lose what competitive advantage they hold. So for sure, it pays to keep your customer strategy up to date.
Alan: And absolutely. And thanks, David. It’s a really excellent overview of the value that sales and account management capability framework can bring to any organisation.
And it’s an area where we at Customer Attuned, have helped a number of clients over the years across different industry sectors and then so we’d be delighted to hear from anyone who needs a bit of help or advice in this area.
I just wondered, it would be good if we could maybe have a follow up session to discuss how you’ve seen
a capability framework being used to help identify development needs and then some of the corresponding solutions that were put in place to address these needs. Would that make sense, as a being a topic for our next discussion?
David: Yes, I think well, since we’ve started a series of these conversations, it makes sense to continue, so yeah, that’s a great idea.
Alan: Okay, brilliant. All right, well, I look forward to getting that one done. Maybe try and get that done before Christmas, if we can. Fantastic. Thanks, David. Bye.
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