Often, we see companies tell their top customers they are focused on delivering great service by implementing a “Strategic Accounts” program. The customer is allocated designated resources, priority status, streamlined pricing and benefits that “regular” customers aren’t offered. In other words, the program is aligned to provide the strategic account with world class service and drive new revenue opportunities for the supplier. The program launches and everyone waits to reap the benefits of these newly anointed strategic accounts.
A month passes. Six months. Twelve months. Two years. Nothing happens.
Where is the breakdown? We did everything we were supposed to, but nothing changed.
Nothing changed is exactly the problem. Everything was focused on delivering a higher standard to the customer. However, the supplier failed to align its internal resources to make the program successful.
One of the key criteria to ensure transformational change in an organization is to align incentives for everybody, not just the sales team. For example, if your sales team is compensated on increased revenues inside the strategic accounts and your operations team is paid on increased margin, there will be inherent conflict that ultimately impacts the account’s performance. While both may be equally important to the supplier, there needs to be a balance that gets everybody in the boat rowing in the same direction.
Here are 3 tips to ensure you properly compensate your strategic accounts teams:
- Strategic Planning – What do you want your strategic account program accomplish? Are you defending existing revenue? Growing new revenue? Looking to increase profits? How long will it take to meet the goals? Clarity around your key objectives is critical in determining what compensation analytics to deploy. Focus on 2-3 key metrics that can be measured and will incent your team to produce the desired results.
- Organizational Structure – Are the key contributors operating in silos? Do sales report to one leader while operations report to another? A true strategic account should have its own P&L and a designated team. Aligning your structure allows you to measure, operate and compensate the team as a unit.
- Performance Evaluation – When and how will you determine if the strategic account team is moving the needle? Does your compensation plan incent the development of long-term strategic relationships or short-term gains? Creating key performance indicators that drive long-term results will ensure your team is focused on developing partnerships versus closing additional sales to spike revenues. Incentives tied to management by objectives (MBOs) and customer satisfaction are examples of how a company might accomplish this.
Strategic accounts are a company’s most valuable assets. Deploying a successful compensation planning strategy that aligns internal resources will help ensure those assets continue to contribute to the overall success of your organization.