23 Sep Getting to “Gnats” Out of “Counselor”
Getting to “Gnats” – Out of “Counselor”
“You’ve Got Mail!” Tenacity’s FreshEyes® Review of one of your most important clients has just hit your in-box. The “Impressions” recap has placed the client in the “Counselor” quadrant, i.e. the account team appears to be doing the job on the “Technical Delivery” side (solving problems, delivering innovation) but the “Relationship” components need shoring up.
When the relationship is weaker than it should be, usually at least one of three important metrics is suffering:
The Web of Influence®: See blogpost dated December 10, 2012, “Like a Spider” (http://clientretention.com/the-blog/page/4/). We do not have an adequate number of connected business relationships at multiple levels on both sides of the contract. This makes us exceedingly vulnerable to people changes and reduces our ability to communicate value, particularly to senior levels of the client’s organization. You can navigate to the “fix” at the above link.
Rapport: The people involved in the key client – provider relationships just don’t “click” with one another. Call it chemistry, if you like, but more often than not, it relates to drastically different styles of communication coupled with a lack of having similar things in common. Rapport can be marginally improved with work and commitment, but if the match is a bad one, it’s still likely to settle somewhere between strained and outright painful.
Trust: This is the devastating one. We all know that building trust takes time (see blogpost dated July 14, 2013, http://clientretention.com/the-blog/) but that the loss of trust can occur in a heartbeat. Fixing a loss of trust requires acknowledgment, confession and repentance, but often the best answer in the business context is to follow this sequence with a personnel change.
There are two “Go To” actions that should be carefully considered whenever a “Counselor” status is diagnosed:
Have a Parade …
Essentially, the Account Manager brings a procession of the firm’s executives through the account. This technique has several benefits and solves at least two problems. First, it demonstrates the firm’s concerns to the client. Second, and most important, the firm’s executives can use the meetings with the management team and client representative to understand the issues facing the team. Often, executives fail to appreciate the situation until they’ve seen it “up close and personal”. After they’ve seen the situation for themselves and have had a chance to talk with the client, rigid positions usually soften on both sides of the table.
Mr. Potato Head
If the client doesn’t have faith or trust in the Account Manager, acknowledge the problem and change the manager. “When people change, everything has the potential to change” … on both sides of the desk. The new Account Manager can buy the time necessary to make the adjustments the client is looking for and strengthen the Web of Influence. The client will almost certainly give the firm and the new manager the benefit of the doubt and an opportunity to recover. Like the real Mr. Potato Head, you can change the eyes, ears, nose and even the hat, but the potato itself (our contract) should never change.
As always, the key is to have a bias for action that stands behind an unwavering commitment to client satisfaction and retention. Do these remedies if they seem to fit the situation, but by all means, do something!
John & Steve