Having worked in the ERP software industry now for 15 years, I am often involved in discussions around the competencies of key departments in software solution providers such as:
- Product Support
- Consultancy & Implementation
- Software Development
- Project Management
- Customer Services
Many discussions on the abilities of these core functions often centre around accreditations, number of staff and core competencies in new and upcoming solutions that organisations want to reap business benefits from, and quite rightly so.
However, it recently occurred to me that in the role as an Account Manager, what value do customers put on their software provider’s Account Management service? Based on my experience within an Account Management role, it certainly isn’t something I have seen a monetary value on a contract renewal document. Presumably it is considered as ‘all part of the service?’
Since the Account Manager’s role for a customer will continue to not attract a direct financial value, I think it is important to understand what an Account Manager, particularly an m-hance one, does (I realise I am inviting some comments here!). So here is a typical day in the life of an m-hance Account Manager.
The Day Begins…
Benjamin Franklin came up with the quote “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”, so a day on customer visits starts with the preparation of meetings. As a field-based Account Manager, my role is to be onsite with customers, discussing their ERP and CRM strategy and assisting them to leverage the huge benefits in the latest Microsoft technologies to support their business goals.
Up until a few months ago, a lot of preparation used to be quite a manual process and often a late-night task the day before. Not anymore! On this day, I was heading into central London which is about an hour’s commute on the train from my local station. Once connected to the onboard Wi-Fi, I was able to prepare for the 3 meetings for that day in about 20 minutes.
At m-hance, we use the hugely beneficial Microsoft Power BI reporting tool. I have an Account Manager dashboard, which allows me to select the customer I am about to visit, and it instantly populates live data showing me:
- Current active projects (sales opportunities) I am discussing with the customer
- Previously won/lost opportunities for reference
- Active and previously resolved Support calls with our team and performance against SLA
- Currently active contracts, by product, including value and renewal date
- Outstanding invoices (yes, the ugly stuff is part of my role!)
The Customer Meetings
The great thing with the customers that I manage, is that we have aligned our staff to the vertical areas we have strength in. We have made no secret of our expertise in the NFP/Charity sector and I have the pleasure of looking after the majority of our NfP’s in London.
I had 3 meetings with 3 very different types of NfP organisations on this day (also incidentally using the great mapping feature in Power BI to geographically plan my visits). Some of the key highlights from the meetings were:
Meeting 1 – About to embark on a large digital transformation project, we discussed the Charity’s plans to migrate both their Finance and CRM systems to a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform utilising D365 Business Central and D365 for Sales. I was able to reference specific solutions we have developed in areas such as SoFA reporting, Partial VAT recovery and Volunteer and Donor management in our NfP specific CRM solution.
Meeting 2 – This NfP organisation is about to kick off an upgrade project to Dynamics GP 2018 R2. We discussed some additional requirements they have around reporting, of which Power BI and Jet Reporting were leading contenders to speed up the reporting processes and enhance accuracy for their stakeholders. I was also able to meet their project delivery team who we are about to start working with in their upcoming upgrade project.
Meeting 3 – The final meeting of the day was with a customer who has very recently upgraded their Dynamics GP to the latest version. They were happy with how the project was delivered and we discussed their next requirement of Making Tax Digital compliancy. As they require group VAT submissions, I was able to discuss with them our m-hance MTDfV module which is also now compliant with GP2016 and GP2018 which will give them the compliance they require with HMRC.
The role of an m-hance Account Manager contains plenty of interesting challenges. However, the key element to achieving true value-added service to our clients, is being able to be vertical within certain industries and subject matters. With our focus on the NfP/Charity sector, I was able on this day to share real experiences and challenges faced by other, similar organisations and provide sound advice on how we have helped these companies overcome them. A successful story based on in-depth knowledge of commonly faced issues and previously implemented solutions is a great one to share.