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

Many of our historically product-focused clients are shifting their organizational and operational focus to address buyers’ needs in their key markets. Talent is always important but is particularly critical as businesses move to these customer intimacy-based models that require a deep understanding of the market needs.

A transformation to an intimacy-based business necessitates an array of new skills. The skills required to sell Ideas, guide clients through a journey, and develop intimacy are additional to the technical and functional skills traditionally required of product and service companies.

No matter what direction your organization is heading, any transformation should involve a detailed talent evolution plan as you transition through different stages of implementing a new business model.  Throughout the process it’s important to understand the necessary skills in each phase and identify:

  1. Today’s high-performers in the current model – it will be important not to lose these individuals as you begin this journey, but as you move forward, either you or your high-performers may determine the new model is not the right fit for their natural skill set.
  2. The flexible high-performers – mid/high-performers with dynamic skillsets who can operate effectively in the old model while also possessing many of the skills you believe will successfully translate to the new model. These individuals should serve as your player/coaches as new skills are required.
  3. Future high-performers – those capable of being high-performers with the ability to drive success in the new model.

When it comes to building a team that understands and can deliver throughout these phases and particularly in the new model, people always ask, “What percent of my current staff can I bring along and get up to speed?” “How do I identify those employees who will be successful in the new model?”

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

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

Resources will come from two primary sources: internal 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, but this doesn’t mean they will all 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 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 interview process. The most qualified individuals will come from leading consulting and Professional Services firms with experience in the specific industries that your solutions will focus on.

By their very nature, these consultants are analytical and skeptical. Therefore, the interview process should 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. 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 it work. Note that even these folks may not be able to make the journey without guidance, support, development, etc. Effective change management will be imperative to all employees.

In summary, here are the two takeaways:

  1. It’s important to define a clear map of the skills required and
  2. These skills can be acquired from outside the company or can be developed within.

Most companies moving to the Intimacy Model see developing talent as one of the key initiatives.  Therefore, in the next post, we 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.

To read the next blog in the series, click here.

Written by: Mark Slotnik

More from this Author

About the Author: Mark Slotnik has spent nearly 20+ years advising clients in the areas of designing and taking to market high value business solutions, solution portfolio management, talent development, resource management, business process re-engineering and commercial software.  

Leave a Reply