Managing business relationships is challenging and important. It takes effort and skill to win and nurture relationships that will deliver sustainable value. It is often hard to define what is meant by “relationship management”.
We have used the concept of the gyroscope as a clear (and enjoyable) way of explaining the components that an organisation needs to get right to be effective in managing accounts ranging from strategic, global accounts to smaller but significant relationships.
The Customer Gyroscope ® is designed to provide a clear and comprehensive methodology for defining relationship management as well as for addressing the risks and opportunities that these relationships present.
The Customer Gyroscope ® puts into your hands a way of explaining and agreeing what the whole organisation understands about relationship management. It also provides a toolkit for winning, growing and retaining business relationships ranging in scale from individuals to strategic accounts.
The Customer Gyroscope ® has been developed by the team at Gyroscope International based on their extensive experience of account management and their insights into managing business relationships in a rapidly and radically changing world.
So, what are the components of effective relationship management?
PIVOT ON THE CUSTOMER
In relationship management everything pivots on the customer. Just as the gyroscope cannot function without its central axis, so relationship management needs to be centred on the customer if it is not to fall over.
In practice this means:
Effective diagnosis of actual and potential clients their needs, their objectives, their preferences.
An ability to match offerings to different customer groups - sometimes called “customer-specific value propositions”.
A continuously refreshed approach to innovation that identifies” white space” and forms new solutions. Often this will involve “co-innovation” with the customer and with partners.
A rigorous determination to keep the focus on the customer. We need to keep asking “What would be of most use to the customer?” “Why is this a benefit?” “How will this enhance the customer experience?” “Have we asked the customer?”
If the spin axis of a gyroscope is not aligned, then the stability of the gyroscope as a whole is compromised. Aligning a business relationship on the customer makes strategies and structures, tools and processes sustainably effective.
A STRONG FRAMEWORK: STRATEGIES & STRUCTURES
The gyroscope centres on the spin axis, but it is the frame which gives it stability and coherence. In relationship management, the frame is provided by the strategies and structures that the organisation develops to manage its customers effectively.
Strategies include segmenting the customer base; flexing offerings for different segments; prioritising customers and identifying strategic accounts. The organisation as a whole needs to be clear about relationship strategies and the way they fit into the wider business strategy. Relationship strategies are likely to be “emergent” rather than “classical” and to reflect the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) business environment.
Structures will need to underpin the customer-centric strategy. In most instances a customer structure will need to overlay traditional structures such as those based on product and geography. This may involve the formulating of new structures to serve specific segments such as industry sectors or strategic accounts. Often there will be a hybrid model with resources coming from both established silos and from the customer-centred new structures. Strategies and structures need to be based on good data.
HOLDING IT TOGETHER: TOOLS & PROCESSES
The gimbal, (the horizontal metal ring) provides another element of stability. Because the gyroscope’s movement is so dynamic, these elements of stability are all the more important. In relationship management the tools and processes hold all the fast-moving activities together. They keep everything centred on the customer and ensure that the different forces work together. Good relationship management demands good tools and processes.
The processes we see in effective sales organisations include those for lead generation, customer acquisition, cross-selling, retention and account management.
The toolkit for relationship management includes:
Customer analytics and segmentation tools
Capability, capacity and coverage analysis
Account plans and sales plans
Virtual team management tools
Coaching and implementation tools
Lead generation, prospect & customer management
Innovations in these areas of sales are already having a significant impact and are moving rapidly.
Leveraging these needs a blend of fresh innovation and deep experience and good data
THE ROTOR: DOING ENOUGH OF THE RIGHT THINGS IN THE RIGHT WAY
The most visibly active part of the gyroscope is the rotor, the flat spinning disk. In relationship management this represents the multitude of actions going on with customers every day and every week.
We identify three aspects of these actions:
Activity: Do you have the right number of people actively building and managing customer relationships? How could efficiencies be improved to optimise volume of activity? Could” non-core” selling time be reduced through technology? We have regularly seen 25% improvement in levels of sales activity when this is approached in innovative ways.
Concentration of focus: Are the right people talking to the right people in the right organisations about the right things? Good interpretation of data can significantly improve coverage. Ensuring the focus of actions is aligned with the sales strategy makes all the difference to the business result.
Effectiveness: Are people carrying out their actions in the best possible way? This needs the right blend of talent, attitude, skills and knowledge.
KEEP IT ENERGISED
Some gyroscopes use a string to start them. Ours use a pull-handle. The gyroscope only functions when energy is applied through the handle.
Business leaders need to regularly apply their energising efforts to keep relationship management moving. It is essential to put everything into motion in the first place. To some extent momentum keeps things going but energy needs to be applied in the right way and at the right time. Without this energy all the components lose their effectiveness and everything becomes static.
We work with sales leaders to maintain momentum through five crucial aspects of sales management:
Diagnose. Gather and analyse the data effectively
Formulate. Establish effective ways of working
Develop. people and process
Tune. Support continuous implementation
Re-calibrate. Review, measure and adapt
GYROSCOPE INTERNATIONAL: THE WHY AND THE WHAT
This piece is an introduction to the subject of relationship management. There are a selection of robust resources available under The Customer Gyroscope ® which have been developed by Gyroscope International to help our clients achieve their goals more easily and more speedily. By doing this we want them to enhance the embedded value of their businesses.
If you have the desire and will to improve sales performance in a changing world, we have the capabilities and capacity to help you clarify where you are, confirm where you want to get to and provide proven solutions to achieve your goals.