Executive engagement is increasingly on the radar of B2B leaders who are experiencing a positive impact on their top and bottom line. Yet while the CEO may be clear on the impact and success of executive engagement, how to build engagement differs greatly from marketing to sales leaders. When I ask CXOs their view of what it means to be engaged in an active series of meetings, discussions, events and programs with a partner – they describe something different yet again.
Sales leaders define successful outcomes from engaging with executives in concrete, bottom line terms: qualified leads, proposals, closed sales, referrals. Marketing leaders talked about outcomes that focus on growing share of wallet, progression of pipeline, meaningful conversations, increased satisfaction and loyalty. The two agree on what clients seek in their engagement with them, such as: peer networking, valuable insights, access to experts, actionable solutions to business problems.
In talking to executives, they define a successful partnership as one that elevates their knowledge about a problem; brings them peace of mind around a particular business challenge; fosters a ‘pick up the phone’ relationship to solve challenges; delivers expertise in an existing or new area; provides insight into strategy and thinking that will shape future planning.
How to improve executive engagement:
- Reshape your definition of client engagement to include short and longer term considerations. Place relationship development at the core and plan programs and interactions as ways to grow that relationship.
- Ask your clients what they think and get them to share in refining outcomes and targeting effective approaches that will help to build new programs.
- Recognize that one size does not fit all and not every activity or program will or should get to the same outcomes – it is success across the spectrum that will ultimately derive the most value.
Build out programs that are sustainable and longer term in focus. At Farland Group, we believe customer advisory boards to be an important tool in the strategy, but there are several other approaches to consider that will enable a set of longer-term executive relationships that bear fruit.