Posts Tagged ‘funding’
Customer reference efforts often start out of necessity by marketing management, however to create an effective customer reference program it is essential to have the support and mandate of senior executive management.
What is an executive sponsor?
An executive sponsor is a member of the senior leadership team that takes responsibility and ownership for the initiative. It’s not someone who oversees the program or even necessarily the individual who provided the funding. It is a senior executive who has the political influence across the organization and is willing to elevate the program to a corporate initiative. An executive sponsor is someone who will:
• deliver communications so they are heard and respected
• break down obstacles that will inevitably arise within and between groups
• provide funding and resources when otherwise difficult to obtain
How do I secure executive sponsorship?
Even if the idea for formalizing your company’s customer reference efforts came from the top down, it is probably necessary to confirm that your executive is willing to take on the advocacy role. If your program is something that started informally, then there is likely a need for active steps. Either way, we recommend aligning with the executive and securing his or her involvement with the following steps:
1. Start as early as possible
Securing formal executive sponsorship early in the life of your program allows your executive to have full ownership rather than inheriting something that already exists.
2. Articulate business impact
As you present your case to an executive for support, recognize that he or she will likely care most about the financial impact of the program. Be prepared to speak in terms of the cost savings to the company and the incremental revenue that customer reference management will drive. Agree on how these factors will be tracked and reported ongoing.
3. Understand and adjust to his/her objectives
It is important to understand the personal goals and interests of the executive and ensure that he or she can easily see the relevance of the customer reference program. The executive sponsor should understand that his or her contribution is going to be a major factor in the success of the program and that he or she will be the one who gets the credit for the value it delivers to the organization.
4. Agree on expectations for sponsorship
Securing an effective executive sponsor involves managing up in your organization. Have a candid conversation about the regular involvement you are anticipating and other actions the role might involve. Your executive should be comfortable and willing to undertake the responsibilities that sponsorship involves.
5. Maintain regular interaction
An executive sponsor needs to be more than someone who lends a voice at the launch of the program. The sponsor needs to be there to help your program overcome the inevitable hurdles that develop over time. To ensure this, you need to continue to nurture the relationship over time. Meet regularly to report progress and maintain engagement.
When we encounter a program that is sub-optimal, our first question is how the manager is engaging an executive sponsor. It is a critical role and one that is too often overlooked to the detriment of long-term customer reference program success.