SHYFT Analytics' Matt McGinty Tells How BizOps Helps Account Management Win
I recently sat down with Matt McGinty, Senior Vice President of Sales & Account Management at SHYFT Analytics, to talk about how roles are changing in B2B Sales and Operations. A former sales engineer with an operational mindset, Matt explores how to map out Account Management and Customer Success roles, and notes how BizOps leaders in B2B SaaS are sitting in “the good seats.”
Stephanie Fox: How has the shift to a recurring revenue model changed our expectations of the Account Management role and what does the mission of Account Management look like today?
Matt McGinty: The importance of Account Management can’t be overestimated, and its mission is constantly in flux. Account Management, at a high level, is the foundation for how you’ll engage with customers after the first sale and manage churn, which in the SaaS world is everything. I would point you to David Skok’s famous blog post which gets right to the core of it. It explains the cost of churn in a simple pie chart, where you can see that while 3 million dollars in churn in a 10 million dollar business is probably something you can address, once you’re a 100 million dollar business, it’s really, really expensive, if not impossible, to address 30 million dollars in churn. Account Management is the cornerstone role because it allows the organization to really scale and create negative churn.
SF: How do you differentiate between Account Management and Customer Success?
MM: It really depends for each company, but I think the way to think about is to see Account Managers as mainly extensions of enterprise sales, and Customer Success as customer enablers. You can ask yourself a few questions, like what’s your product or service? Who does it serve? How important is it to the customer’s overall business, or is it something that serves a department or individual? What is your primary business objective related to that customer? Are you providing an ongoing service, or are you trying to onboard the customer in order for them to be self-sufficient? Is it all about margin management? Will you expect the team to upsell or cross-sell? In that case, Account Management may be right for you. If your go-to-market is not a big enterprise or upper-big market, but instead rather at the mid-market or low market, Customer Success may be what you need.
Know what you are, embrace what you are, and think about the skills you’re looking for. That effort can make the roles apparent to you and your team.
SF: I see how you differentiate the responsibilities between the two roles, but how does compensation fit in to all of this?
MM: Comp is that dirty thing that people don’t want to talk about sometimes, but we Salespeople like to talk about money! Compensation is really important, because it drives behavior. If you’re expecting them to renew accounts, they should have management-by-objective (MBO) plans that include churn metrics. If you’re expecting them to upsell and cross-sell, that too should be reflected in their MBOs.
You also want to be careful of the behavior that doesn’t happen based on how you comp. I used to work on a team that comped the Customer Success Managers on margin. Unfortunately, that meant they were incented NOT to go see the customers, which mean they earned their bonus when they didn’t hop on a plane to solve a customer’s problem.
SF: We’ve all heard about the Hunter/Farmer analogy, where Hunters are typically the Net New Salespeople and Farmers are typically the Account Managers or Customer Success teams. In a SaaS world, when is Account Management more about hunting, farming or both?
MM: I think of Account Management now, because it is so strategic to SaaS, as more like deer hunting than just “hunting.” Here’s why I say that: when you go deer hunting, it requires strategic, long-term thinking. You plant corn in a field in May, then wait a few months for it to grow, and then you climb up the tree in September. You know the deer are going to come to that field to eat. I know it’s a little graphic to think about it this way, but I think it’s important. You’re not just planting seeds to harvest, like a farmer, you’re planting seeds that grow to plants that become food for a large number of targets, then you choose which ones to go after.
SF: How can BizOps and Account Management partner to drive growth?
MM: The BizOps team, whether you call them Sales Ops or Ops, they have so much data at their fingertips. Getting that data in the hands of the people in Account Management who manage relationships is critical. A few years ago. I was brought into one of those emergency account rescue situations, with very little context. Unfortunately, we didn’t collaborate with BizOps in advance of the meeting, and figure out that we sold into the account in the wrong way, we didn’t find raving fans, we didn’t go and train the trainer. Instead, we apparently did a big enterprise pitch, selling dozens of licenses to the executive team. Unfortunately, nobody kept track to see that those executives were logging in regularly to use the product. Support cases had stopped coming in, but instead of seeing that as a bad sign, it was read as a good sign. Users even unsubscribed from our marketing emails. With better alignment between that Account Management team and BizOps, they would have could seen this coming. BizOps can figure out where the data lives, make sure that it all flows through Salesforce. They can assign alerts to help make people proactive about accounts.
SF: I want to ask about reporting structures for the account management function. It’s not really something that is black and white. The role has a ton of variability which I think you guys have all articulated so well tonight. What approach has worked for you in establishing the right organizational reporting structure for Account Management?
MM: It varies, just as the role description does. In my opinion, I would say Account Management, with the assumptions it has a revenue number tied to it, should report to Sales or otherwise up to the Chief Revenue Officer. But since ultimately all of these roles support revenue, I would urge people to have Customer Success report up to Sales as well. The exception would be if you have an “old school” sales leader, the plaid-jacket-and-wingtip-shoes-type Sales leader, who treats Account Managers and Customer Success teams like farmers, using the model we discussed before, or even as second-class citizens. That approach just doesn’t work anymore. In a modern SaaS company, these roles often do best if they report up to Sales or Revenue.
SF: How do you see the future of Account Management changing and what role does BizOps play in that future?
MM: For many SaaS businesses, it’s still all about solution selling, but for many more, it seems, customers find themselves in more of a self-service mode. Account Management can personalize the experience of being a customer, especially if the process of becoming one happens through a website or app. Then the role of BizOps is about bringing data from various systems to their counterparts in Account Management, and providing indicators to Account Management that explain where the account and the business are going. They make a great team.
This leads to the issue of staffing these roles. I think of Sales as a Broadway play put together by psychologists! They don’t teach Sales in college, which is kind of weird when you think about it. You get young folks people who want to be BDRs right out of college and they have marketing degrees. They have no idea how to sell, they don’t understand how to connect with people. It’s getting harder to find Salespeople and it’s really hard to find Sales managers. This is an opportunity for people in BizOps. Spend time with Salespeople, because they’re on the other side of what you do. The roles really can help each other where they intersect. When you know the data and learn how people make buying decisions, that helps you provide more credible coaching. I have an operational background by nature, so I embrace that feedback and I embrace that approach, and I think other SaaS sales leaders do as well. If you’re in BizOps, I think you’re sitting in the good seats right now.
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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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