Training Top 125 Best Practice: Buckman Laboratories International, Inc.’s Account Management Program (AMP)
The “Buckman Way” of doing business means that sales associates at the specialty chemical company work hard to cultivate a strong relationship with customers. This is key to Buckman’s strategy and the focus of its Account Management Program (AMP) course.
Associates learn to identify customer needs in order to formulate creative solutions that drive results. Topics include Buckman’s sales philosophy, reproducible sales flow, capturing customer expectations, and standard service processes, with practice sessions surrounding asking questions, seeing other perspectives, and getting feedback. Additionally, associates learn about Buckman’s four AMP workshops focusing on problem solving, trial development, account transitioning, and service planning.
A cohort of 34 trainers and 15 administrators support a global implementation network. Certification as a trainer requires two weeks of practical training with Buckman’s master trainer, followed by co-facilitation of the course. Once certified, they become part of the global AMP trainer community, constantly up-coached and given access to an AMP Trainer site and Yammer forum with materials in five languages.
Learner feedback (via online Level 1 evaluations) and corporate strategy reviews constantly drive enhancements, furthering alignment with the Buckman Way. The Training team ensures learning during the course with a blended two-part Level 2 assessment strategy. During the four-day course, each module has an extensive array of role-playing exercises and feedback sessions. These knowledge checks are critical, so two trainers handle coaching and monitor learner performance. As a capstone assessment, an online 50-question post-assessment is assigned, with a passing score required for completion.
Managers complete a Manager Responsibilities course, which defines their responsibilities before, during, and after their associates attend AMP training. The course also provides coaching materials for additional on-the-job reinforcement. Additionally, AMP processes are built into sales associate job descriptions with specific expectations standardized globally for use in annual performance reviews. To further support learning transfer, within the first 90 days after training, associates must create an action plan with their manager for engaging with customers—thus, creating a measureable milestone.
To support longer-term implementation of AMP skills, the AMP Implementation Inventory (AMPii) site is considered a Level 3 evaluation process. Sales associates upload key deliverables that demonstrate integration of AMP processes into their accounts. These are checked for quality, and feedback is provided. Additionally, the AMPii site has best practice examples, FAQs, small topic-specific videos, and a Yammer network for sales associates to ask questions and get real-time feedback on issues. The AMPii site is the most-used internal site at Buckman globally.
AMP-related documentation stored in the AMPii site is now also accessible by customers. Buckman OnSite allows customers to view designated documents—providing direct contact, transparency, and up-to-date safety and sustainability-related information. OnSite is introduced and demonstrated, and each attendee leaves the AMP training with a thorough understanding of how to roll out to customers.
More than 4,000 customer surveys have an average satisfaction score of 3.4 (out of 4.0). A series of workshops in Maine led to the growth of a key target account from $125,000 in revenue annually to more than $1.8 million. Accounts implementing these workshops had nearly 50 percent less account attrition. Additionally, analysis has shown sales growth is nearly 33 percent faster in accounts using the AMP annual business review process.