It was great to meet you earlier today to kickoff your implementation of our tool. While we reviewed your success criteria and onboarding milestones, I did leave a few things unsaid. In the spirit of transparency, here are some things I wish you knew about my role.
I fight many internal battles
When you share a request with me, I take it as my personal agenda to drive this internally. While I will advocate as best as I can, you can help me do this better.
If you can give me context on your ask…
walking me through the impact you are seeking (not just dictating the feature to build), it allows me to better understand your request and describe it to others. (And believe me, I’ll need to share this message more than a few times to get traction.) Understanding the why behind it gives me the ability to brainstorm with others who may have received similar asks or develop various alternatives to deliver the impact you want.
If you can give me visibility…
from your perspective on the industry impact, that also helps. If you know that your peers all expect X feature as they get it from competitors today and it is critical to deep usage of the product, let me know. This helps me share that the work is not a singular request, but one that can help our company expand more broadly within that vertical. If you are willing to introduce me and my product team to industry peers for informational interviews, that would help provide this information credibility and potentially speed up our ability to act on this request.
Please share expectations upfront.
If you are transitioning tools and need this up by a certain date, or certain functionality will be critical for you passing a certification in six months, communicate this early and often. If I don’t know the specific importance to you, it makes it harder for me to know when and where to focus my advocacy.
I’m asking to meet other people on your team to better understand your business
I respect you and the work you are doing at your company. When I ask to get introductions to other team members, it isn’t to remove you from the process. I am trying to do my due diligence by gathering as much information as possible about your business. By hearing from different perspectives, I can help piece together a more comprehensive narrative, both internally and externally.
Sometimes, I talk to peer teams at your company more than you do. Given your scope of work, you may not be involved in their plans or strategy and really can’t represent their goals in a clear fashion. If you believe in the impact of our tool (which I’m hoping you do, since you decided to purchase it), doesn’t it make sense to allow us to help multiple teams across the business? I’m happy to share learnings about how they are thinking about leveraging our tool to increase the value across your entire organization.
I want to give you data and insights, but if we don’t have it available, I don’t know where to start
I’ve already reviewed the metrics and dashboards we have available with you. But deep down, I know that what we offer doesn’t give every customer the insight they are looking for. We have access to some data in the backend (which I think means I have to ask an engineer who pulls it manually). While I’m still learning your business, it would be so helpful to understand the metrics you use, or want to use, for measurement. I can try to guess and pull what I’ve heard of my peers sharing, but I’m not sure if this is applicable for you or not. This makes me nervous, as I don’t want to look like I don’t know what I’m doing and lose credibility with you. If you can give me guidance on the data that you want to see, that gives me a direction to take the conversation internally to see what is possible. (Similarly to above, please give me the context of why, or how you use the data.)
Sometimes other people have conversations with your company and don’t loop me in
Today, I introduced myself as your quarterback, go-to person and main point of contact. While I am actively working to be aware of everything going on with your account and keeping you updated on the various projects we are working on, relationships that you developed during the sales process haven’t just disappeared. Sometimes you will reach out to those people directly and forget to copy me on the email. Sometimes they may reach out with an innocent check in note, leading to a brainstorming conversation that gets you excited about a potential future partnership. I can only remind people to include me and calendar stalk so much. If you feel like an idea or conversation lost traction, please try to remember if I was included before you get frustrated at me for not following up. If you loop me in, I’m happy to track things and hold people accountable. But I can’t do that if I’m not aware of it.
I will say no.
There are going to be times I have to tell you no. It isn’t personal and certainly isn’t the fun part of the job for me. But in my role, I have to walk the fine line of balancing internal and external priorities. I can’t ask the product team to build all 50 of your feature requests if you aren’t willing to pay for them and no other customers are interested in that functionality. I will commit to approaching you with curiosity – understanding the context behind the request and your prioritization to see how we can partner for the most success.
Please complain early.
If you are unhappy with the product or my support of your account, please let me or my manager know. If you can share this feedback before we are in the countdown to renewal, we can partner to make a plan, which may include re-training, providing better metric visibility, or even changing the team supporting you. If you sit on this feedback until we talk about the renewal, you are often more frustrated and it shortens the amount of time we can work to fix it. This means instead of creating a plan in which we mutually agree on goals and can measure the impact of the change, we will throw a bunch of things at the problem in a last ditch effort to save your account, but some of it will be a waste of time for people on both sides. Instead of using time to be strategic and partnering with you to deliver value, my time is going to be pulled into internal meetings where I need to update people on why you are threatening to leave. I didn’t design the product and won’t take offense to hear that something is broken and we need to look into it. I will be offended if you don’t share that feedback despite our cadence calls and drop it on me without giving me a true chance to address it.
Giving me more business often allows me more pricing leverage
You aren’t going to be the first or last customer to tell me that margins are tight, you are getting pushed on budgets, or that we need to find some savings in the renewal. There is only so much I can do when we are talking about the existing business we have together. We need to continue to invest in our product (remember those features you wanted us to build?) and our cloud computing costs seem to just continue to rise. If you are open to growing our business relationship, through expanding to other teams or purchasing an additional product, our pricing flexibility increases. I know this may sound counterintuitive – you are looking to save money and I’m telling you to spend more with us. Based on what we offer and what your business needs, we may be able to help you consolidate or remove other tools or drive efficiency, which creates a larger total cost of ownership discussion. These types of conversations need to be two-way. You have data that will show whether this makes sense or not. I can make directionally correct assumptions, but unless you are willing to share information with me, it is hard for me to best support you in this.
In conclusion, I am excited to support your account moving forward. Having shared this information, I hope you can better understand the actions that I take as we embark on this partnership together. My goal is to create mutual success and I’m hoping that starting with open communication will set us on this course.
Don’t be shy.
Connect with Emily on LinkedIn here.