What Account Management Looks Like In The SaaS Era

account_management

I keep hearing about SaaS. How does it help with accounts? Account management isn’t new, but its role has evolved with the rise of Software as a Service (SaaS) companies. (We are particularly focusing on the software industry here.)

In the past, the account manager role had similarities to that of an account executive. The difference was that account managers simply look after the financial aspects that an account brings in, while everything else was handled by various teams or departments across the company.

But things have changed. Account management is more diverse and people in those roles require certain traits to succeed.

First, let’s look at why an account manager is so important to your business. Discover how account managers offer customers help to roll out your product and also have the knowledge to fully exploit your product features.

How does an Account Manager help you?

Key responsibilities of a superb account manager:

Single point of contact

It is human nature to feel more comfortable talking about your requirements to one person. Repeating yourself to several people disrupts your workflow. Speaking to one person is smoother and less confusing, even if you have to wait on that person to get back to you.

Help build confidence and trust with your clients

Your account manager is the person who is the face of your company for the customer as you are rolling out software. A good account manager will help you build stronger relationships that increase customer loyalty.

Customizing customer workflows based on the internal processes

An account manager helps the customer roll out the software at their company. This process helps the customer shape the software to be compatible to their requirements. It also shares knowledge and helps the customer develop their business – a healthy step towards building a long lasting relationship.

Bringing internal staff up to best software practices

Delivering personalized training sessions can ensure the whole team uses the software to the greatest efficiency.

Really confident, well-equipped account managers are like your company’s negotiators. They weave through difficult demands, craft solutions to individual cases, and convince customers that are about to cancel back into the fold. The value of that, compounded across an entire team, brings immense value to a company.

The role of an account manager in a SaaS company

We’ve dropped the perception that an account manager is there to manage incoming finances from clients.

There is no longer one set of customer service skills that are applicable to customer support. Diverse characteristics and traits are needed to fulfill the many needs of support.

Formerly, a job for one person, account management involved working with a customer to understand their requirements and help them roll out software. But in today’s world of SaaS set-ups, every employee needs to think and function like an account manager.

Imagine you are a start-up and everyone on the team be they in sales, support, customer success or an engineer, knows your product inside out. So, when a new request comes up everyone has the ability to share knowledge on how best it can be achieved. Anyone can help the customer engage with the product, and everyone is an account manager.

You are not only increasing engagement for the customer but for your own teams as well.

What does it take to succeed as an account manager in a SaaS company?

To succeed as a SaaS account manager, the five qualities needed include:

1. An analytical and logical ability to understand the internal workflow of the customer and help them exploit your software. 

This is significant for SaaS in order to  demonstrate the software efficiently to the customer as there are many potential options. If you are unable to help the customer get full value out of the software, the chances of churn increase. The customer might not even know what he or she is missing. Using software such as Totango and Gainsight, you can run a health check of how your customers are using the product, and proactively help them get better at it.

account manager responsibilities using totango

2. A good understanding of Project Management is important. Managing the project efficiently sets the right expectations for the customer. With project management knowledge you know how the project can be adapted. Much will depend on the project management methodology used by your company. (Agile is the foremost today and can help to keep customers happy!)

3. You should be clear on the potential on the ROI you can bring from a customer. This will help you determine if you can go out of your way to bring in a feature for a particular customer or not. If you can align the value of the feature request against the actual value of bringing in a feature or fixing a bug, you can make the decision without doubt!

4. You need to know the product or software inside out. If you don’t, and  still need to poke around for help internally,  you may not be able to give the best  support to the customer to use the product.

5. You should be technically sound too to be the link between the customer and the developers. You will want to be able to answer the customer with confidence and knowledge when questions are sent your way.

Account Management, the way you never knew it!

This is what you need to be a high-achieving account manager today. Here’s calling out to all account managers to keep rocking the role, and making it more sassy with each passing day.

Let us know your challenges and the rock and roll aspects of being an account manager!





Free Product Feedback Template




Don't miss our latest success secrets

Want the best customer support and startup content delivered straight to your inbox?

About the author
Sandeep Kaur

Sandeep is a Customer Support Advocate at Kayako, the effortless customer service software helping teams be more productive and build customer loyalty. She gets a kick out of sarcasm and problem solving!

  • Brooke Goodbary

    Love this post, Sandeep! You’re completely right that being a SaaS Account Manager brings with it new challenges centered around product adoption. The days of merely “babysitting” an account and schmoozing the decision makers to ensure they don’t churn are over. With the cost of switching products so depressed by the move to cloud based software, AMs need to drive and deliver real value- or else the customer will move to another product that will. I particularly appreciate that you highlighted strong project management skills as a crucial requirement for great AMs. How well an AM is able to project managaing key stages of the customer lifecycle such as onboarding have always been a major indicator of future account success. I wrote a blog post on the topic if you care to browse more of my thoughts on onboarding strategy: https://medium.com/welcome-aboard/onboarding-users-to-ensure-success-2c10d356770b . I have also found that because startups are constantly iterating and creating new features, it’s hugely important to be able to be able to work closely with customers to ensure they’re putting these features to good use and seeing the ROI.

Related articles
Product Development: Why Support Should Have a VoiceStartup life

What Bug or Feature Matters Most? How to Choose Your Priorities

Contact Form Design ExamplesStartup life

Design a Contact Us Form That Doesn't Ruin Customer Experiences