ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—"Think about the big C&I members that are in your community. Now think about your top five businesses," Erick Rheam instructed the key accounts managers in the room.

Lists in hand, he asked them next to scratch off three of them.

"Think about what life would be like without those members in your community. Would it mean jobs? Would it mean consumption? Would it be that psychological impact? The point is your community would be altered, changed," said Rheam, senior trainer on the Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives National Facilitation Team.

"Do you have something in place that if this did happen, you could say 'We did everything we possibly could with the resources we had, with the team that we had to provide the best possible service?'"

If the answer to any part of that is no, you need to consider a new Touchstone Energy program: the Key Accounts Master Course.

This four-part training is geared towards co-op employees with roles in key accounts, business development, C&I, member services—anyone who works with non-residential members.

Rheam teaches the course, which he introduced at a session during Touchstone Energy's NET 2018. It comprises a series of classes and smaller modules, starting with the Key Accounts Program Foundation, followed by Launching Your Key Accounts Program.

"It doesn't matter how good your program is unless you launch it correctly," said Rheam, who admits he "fell on my face" the first time he launched a program. "It took me about a year to make up for what I messed up."

Part three looks at the Successful Principles of a Key Accounts Rep. "There are certain things key accounts reps must possess to be successful, and we're going to dig deep into that," said Rheam.

The final part is the Member Action Plan, which Rheam promised will be "30 percent completed" by the end of the class. This is ideal continuing education for new or seasoned key accounts reps, whether or not you hold a Certified Key Account Executive (CKAE) designation, he said.

But why make all this extra effort for key accounts?

"In this room, 40 percent of your revenue, on average, comes from large C&I accounts," Rheam noted. "Doesn't it make sense that you should have some type of plan in place to provide the best possible service to extend the business life of that business community as long as possible?"

Learn more in the key accounts training area on cooperative.com or contact Scott Bialick, scott.bialick@nreca.org, to schedule training in your state or region.

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