8 Myths & Realities about Account Management: Takeaways from the LTV Dream Team Meetup

BizOps and Account Management experts Bryan House, Matt McGinty and Emmanuelle Skala separated fact from fiction at our recent Strategic BizOps meetup hosted by Rekener.

Your job should be as fun as mine.

Every quarter, Rekener sponsors a Strategic BizOps Meetup featuring a panel discussion geared toward important trends in the world of BizOps — and I get to moderate : ).

This quarter’s meetup, “The LTV Dream Team: How Account Management & BizOps Drive Growth,” attracted over 60 attendees at the offices of Pillar VC. Our panelists, Bryan House, Entrepreneur in Residence at Underscore VC and previously at Acquia, where he was Chief of Staff to the CEO and Senior Vice President of Worldwide Account Management; Matt McGinty, SVP of Sales at SHYFT Analytics; and Emmanuelle Skala, VP of Customer Success at Toast, addressed how the evolution of SaaS is breaking down the stereotype of the account manager as the “farmer” who tends to business won by the heroic net new sales “hunter,” and how the data-driven mindset of BizOps is the perfect match for the multi-tasking relationship mindset of Account Management. Many thanks to Pillar VC and Cooley LLP for their sponsorship.

While our discussion covered a broad range of topics, I pulled together these 8 common myths about Account Management.

Myth 1: “Account Management can’t handle those tough accounts! We need real sales people!”

For most B2B recurring revenue organizations, your Account Management team is already selling; you just may not think of it that way. From the team’s reporting structure to the way you comp them to how you define the role and set up KPIs, you could be hiding your greatest asset in plain sight. For many organizations, Account Management offers the greatest return on dollars invested, though older ways of thinking continue to put the emphasis on Net New. Let the revenue numbers and efficiency metrics be your guide.

Myth 2: “Just starting out? Cut your teeth in Account Management and eventually move up to Net New sales.”

The SaaS model is about finding customers you can sell to over and over and over again, which demands a broad range of skills from the modern Account Management professional: They’ve got to be expert on the customer’s business, on the products already in use and other products to consider, not to mention everything it takes to upsell, renew and save accounts. Maybe the order should be reversed, and a stint in Net New sales is a way to get started in Account Management???

Myth 3: “Any business is good business.”

Replacing revenue due to churn gets more expensive and less scalable as your company grows. Your net new strategy needs to anticipate the way you’re going to renew and grow accounts before you pursue them in the first place. Tap your BizOps team and Account Managers to identify which segments are most likely to buy, renew and expand, then aim your Net New team at those prospects.

Myth 4: “Customer Success is just a new way of describing Account Management.”

The right title to use depends on your company’s go-to-market approach, the type of customers you service, the degree to which customers rely on your team to realize value every day, and more. While the roles may blend in some businesses, for others the distinction is more clear. Use data to explore how your team engages with customers, for what purposes and how often, and whether customers find and understand value independently or not.

Myth 5: “Net New Sales reps are the hunters, and Account Managers are just farmers.”

Though the Net New rep brings in the customer, the Account Manager does more than merely maintain the relationship. Account Managers drive lifetime value in the account by understanding the customer’s strategy as it evolves, building and expanding relationships within the account, and selling the value of the solution over time. Armed with account intelligence from the BizOps team, Account Managers use both hunting and farming strategies to strengthen accounts and grow your business.

Myth 6: “Account Management should always report to _____.”

In some organizations, Account Management responsibilities are distributed among separate teams that focus on renewals, upselling and cross-selling. Where Account Management is viewed as a non-sales function, it’s typically reporting into the operations or finance team. Modern SaaS businesses, using account growth data provided by their BizOps organization, recognize the revenue-generating powerhouse that is Account Management, and assign responsibility for that group to the top revenue leader.

Myth 7: “Sales people should be paid more than Account Managers.”

Account Managers do it all — build relationships, process transactions like renewals and adding users, demo new products and more. So why do Net New sales reps earn so much more than Account Managers? There’s no one comp model that works for everyone, but many roles in Account Management call for advanced sales skills, such as strategic planning and communication, project management, opportunity identification and yes, selling. Use data from your BizOps team to evaluate long-held assumptions about roles and responsibilities to determine if comp adjustments are warranted.

Myth 8: “Relationships, not data, build successful accounts.”

Relationships rule, but today’s Account Managers have access to a wealth of customer data. Powerful indicators about account status are found in the customer’s level of activity using your app, in their interactions with customer service, and whether they’re opening your emails. BizOps can partner with Account Management to identify action and inaction within the account and open opportunities for constructive conversation.

I’ll soon share a full transcript of the panel discussion. Join the community and I’ll be sure you get a copy.

  • What myths have you heard about Account Management, Customer Success and BizOps? Share them in the comments below.

  • What’s the balance of Net New vs. Expansion revenue in your business? Read Part 1 of the 2018 B2B Land & Expand Survey. (Part 2 addresses who should be responsible for the 4 types of Expansion revenue -- we’ll send that to you in February!)

  • To be notified of upcoming meetups, get recordings of past events, and for biweekly spam-free BizOps updates, join our community.

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Stephanie Fox

Steph served as Rekener’s Community Manager and CMO. A Rekener co-founder, she was previously Senior Director of Marketing at CCC, a $300M+ recurring revenue business, and served in marketing leadership roles at Vertical, @stake, Informio, DotContent and Meridian. Her first recurring revenue role was as an inside sales rep selling real-time stock pricing subscriptions.

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