The Talent Imperative: Why People Make the Difference in Customer Intimacy Business Model Transformations

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The following guest post is by Mark Slotnik of McMann & Ransford.

Talent is always important and is one of the key drivers of the Customer Intimacy Engine™. In an intimacy-based business, it is even more important - particularly when many of the skills are new. The skills required to sell ideas, deliver projects, and develop account intimacy are different from traditional product and service company skills.

When it comes to building a team that understands and can deliver the customer-intimacy model, people always ask, “What percent can I bring along and get up to speed?”

Part of the answer is captured in the following quote from Baltasar Gracian: “Great ability develops and reveals itself increasingly with every new assignment.”

But if you’re like most of us, that is not going to be good enough.

The rest of answer depends on the existing skills and capabilities of the talent base, the types of offers in the True Solutions™ portfolio, development and training programs, etc. Let’s focus on the initial staffing of the effort for the journey.

Staffing the effort will come from two primary sources: Internal resources and new hires. Note that the endeavor for both groups is different. Your current employees understand your existing business and some naturally rise to the occasion and the majority are likely great people, but this doesn’t mean they will succeed in making the leap to the new model. After all, you will be asking them to do new things in new ways and without the support mechanisms in place, they typically revert back to the “old way”. Therefore, deciding talent selection criteria first will provide you the guiding principles for making important staffing decisions.

We like to use the following criteria for building high-performing, well rounded customer-intimacy teams:


For new hires, you will likely need to re-think where and how you source the top candidates as well as the interviewing process in order to attract and hire them.  The most likely qualified individuals will come from leading consulting and Professional Services firms with experiences in the specific industries your solutions will focus on.

By their very nature, these consultants are analytical and skeptical and the interview process will have to be carefully orchestrated to not only evaluate the candidate from your point of view, but also to enable the candidate to evaluate you, your strategy and your level of commitment as well. Qualified candidates will not only have to be motivated by the opportunity your new strategy represents, they will also have to buy into the fact that your strategy is sound and you are committed to making work. Note that even these folks may not be able to make the journey without guidance, support, development, etc.

In summary, here are the two takeaways:

1.    A clear map of the required skills required must be properly defined, and
2.    these skills must be acquired from outside the company or be developed within

Most companies going to the Intimacy model make developing talent one of the key initiatives. Therefore, in my next post, I will share a few thoughts on talent development programs. After that, I’ll examine how to create an outward-focused interview process for customer intimacy leaders, which will help you attract and engage the right level of talent for your customer intimacy business model transformation.

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This page contains a single entry by Dean McMann published on January 6, 2011 9:29 AM.

Acquistion Imperatives: Accelerating Time to Value was the previous entry in this blog.

Ingersoll Rand's Larry Wash on High-End Services is the next entry in this blog.

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