The Ask: Research design & pilot to a new curriculum toe quip Account managers with tools, mindsets, and behaviors needed to lead.
Ask any Account Manager about the conversations that dominate their day, and they’re likely to mention FOB, MOQ and other three-letter acronyms. And while Li & Fung was built on its strong sourcing abilities, it’s no surprise, disruption is in full swing. Our success in this new world depends on our Account Managers building a new kind of relationship with our customers. One where we are trusted advisors, not just order takers.
To enable this transition, a team from the Fung Academy, led by Elizabeth Ker, General Learning Lead for Fung Academy, spent six months researching, designing and piloting a new curriculum to equip Account Managers with the tools, mindsets, and behaviors needed to lead in this disrupted landscape.
“People are good at what they do, this course is an opportunity to provide a framework to help teach their teams as well as set examples as leaders who can show their colleagues the importance of account management.” – Sean Looram, Executive Director SCS6 & Pilot Program Sponsor
Design curriculum is a lot like designing apparel, one size rarely fits all.
The team kept this mantra in sharp focus as they started the project, “it would have been easy for us to assume we had generic learning needs that could be serviced by an off the shelf training organization, but through deep research into the needs of our business, the type of relationships we have with our customers and our own deeply ingrained ways of doing business became very clear, and they were far from generic.” said Liz Kreuger, Design Thinking lead for the project.
Through research with more than 60 people, both internally and externally, the team discovered a North Star for what great account management looks like in terms of
behaviors, skills and mindsets, and spotted four key gaps their curriculum needed to address:
- Insight to help customers make better decisions.
- Courage and confidence to take calculated risks.
- Customer empathy to build great relationships.
- A sense of ownership to build trust and credibility.
Designing through radical collaboration
Using the gaps they identified as their guide, the team started designing together “this is when we were really able to use the strength of the Fung Academy capabilities because we’re all from such different backgrounds. We had people with expertise in leadership development, others from competitive intelligence, innovation and experimentation and learning design. And by leveraging willing advisors throughout the business as our Subject Matter Experts, combining our perspectives, we were able to design really interesting, relevant learning experiences” said Elizabeth.
The team built 3 learning innovations into the curriculum
Sales DiSC Diagnostic
Handed out at the end of each module, featuring the key tools for that module and a short agenda for participants to share the tools with their team and scale learning.
A series of four Coaching Lab sessions of smaller groups of participants taking place between modules to cement and embed learning.
The team designed a course of four one-day modules, to address the skills, mindsets and behavioral gaps identified in the research. Each module is grounded by a set of practical tools, business case studies and interactive exercises, with the ultimate goal of becoming trusted advisors.
Module 1: Knowing your customer intimately
Module 2: Building strong relationships
Module 3: Grace under pressure: A survival guide for negotiating crises
Module 4: Spotting new opportunities
Piloting to learn & improve
Despite promising initial feedback, the team knew the real test would be piloting their curriculum on a live audience. Which, with the sponsorship of Sean Looram and Valerie Lavion, they were able to start in January 2019. “We’re incredibly grateful for Sean and Valerie’s support, they invested in the pilot and championed the program in a way that showed incredible commitment,” said Joanne Ho,
COO Fung Academy.
The pilot closed in March with participants reporting increased confidence negotiating effectively, knowing their customers on a personal level and spotting new opportunities. One participant said “because of this workshop I have started to apply a greater customer focus, especially when it comes to sharing ideas with customers and partners”, while Sean Looram saw the curriculum “as an opportunity to provide a framework to account managers that helps them teach their teams as well as set an example as leaders who can show their colleagues the importance of account management”.
Through the use of the Teachback Toolkits participants were able to scale their learning by 150%. And 87% of participants reported they would recommend the curriculum to their colleagues. Over the coming six months the team will be working with the businesses to understand the impact of the curriculum on key business indicators.
The team will be making some adjustments to the curriculum in preparation for their second pilot with support from Sean Coxall, Fanny Cheng and Deepika Rana and launching May 2019.