By Amin Akbarpour
As Customer Success professionals, there are tiers of accounts we manage. Often, the crème de la crème are enterprise accounts. Typically, a Customer Success Manager would work their way up the totem pole, managing bigger and bigger accounts over time. If you go this route, your skills develop and your approach evolves over time. However, when you make the leap from the corporate or mid-market segment to enterprise accounts, you’ll see a shift in the approach and strategy that you need to take. There are three techniques I would recommend as you begin your work with enterprise accounts:
At the enterprise level we’re talking about massive organizations with employee counts well over 1,000 driving bottom lines in the billions. With organizations of this size, it is essential to not just develop relationships with one individual or one team. You need to understand all of the teams and individuals who touch or are impacted by your solution. From there, develop new relationships so that you’re clear on:
What are challenges they face today?
What big initiatives are they focused on for the next for months or quarters?
How does your solution impact them today? Positively or negatively?
Where can we better partner with this team or individual to drive value in the relationship?
Enterprise accounts are all about keeping everyone happy and there is no lack of people to connect and build a relationship with. Two pieces of advice here.
1. Be sure to multithread across multiple divisions and business units. Try to expand your reach, and leverage strong results and relationships with your current day-to-day team to get you introductions elsewhere. The more you’re able to deeply engrain yourself successfully within the account, the better chance of adoption, advocacy, retention, and growth.
2. Multithreading also means touching everyone on the totem pole too. Take the same approach you use to ensure that individual contributors and managers are engaged, and apply that up the ranks. Executive alignment is essential as you work towards making sure that what you’re doing is meaningful across the business.
Channel Your Inner Hermes
In Greek mythology, Hermes is the son of Zeus and often labeled as the messenger of God. When you start multithreading and are dealing with multiple divisions, brands or business units across a giant business, you forget that sometimes they may be more isolated than they’d like to admit. You can help change that by playing the role of a messenger, listening to interesting things different teams are doing, and relaying that to other teams that may not be aware of it. It allows you to add value by being able to unite teams across a widespread organization, and it helps you further understand the business. There is also the added benefit of being able to tell other teams what your organization is doing within the account. Working on a new project with X business unit? Tell Y business unit about the project, since it might be of equal interest.
Having a hard time believing that a large org would be this disconnected? Look to see how many large enterprises have “Centers of Excellence” that provide guidance, best practice, and create synergy across all the different divisions. It’s a much bigger issue than you can imagine unless you’ve lived in it.
Now Is Not the Time to Play Casper
This one is deadly. In these large organization, it’s easy to get lost, forgotten, or de-prioritized. Ideally, you’ve been able to multithread and learn of several teams’ goals and priorities for the immediate future. From there, translate that strategic vision into a tactical game plan, draw out tasks that need to be completed, determine who owns these tasks, and establish the dates they need to be completed. Provide constant updates and ensure that you’re tracking towards your stated goals. Once you’ve accomplished your game plan and can show results, partner with your day-to-day contact and tout the success. I love calling this “throwing a parade” because that is how it should feel if everything went as planned. You owe it to the team you were working with for being successful so…show it. Be sure to share it not just horizontally but vertically across the organization too, as the team you’ve been working with deserves praise from not just their counterparts but their executive team as well.
Enterprise accounts require our constant attention to their ever-changing business and needs. The moment we begin to get comfortable and not stay in tune with our client, is the moment we begin to look like a ghost and our value decreases in the partnership. Word to the wise here – it can be very easy to interpret this section as “follow up” and “check in” with the client. These are the two most useless phrases and literally read as “I want to waste your time” to a customer. If you aren’t listening to the client, gathering information on what they care about, and trying to help fit a need or provide value based on that, then there is no purpose in that “touch base” outreach. This is a partnership and for it to truly feel like one, you must listen and provide true value from the client’s point of view.
Focus on being a multithreading master, aiding your client in sharing information across their widespread organization, and treat these accounts as the high-touch clients that they are and you’ll be just as successful managing enterprise accounts as you were previous segments.
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Amin Akbarpour - Amin is a customer success coach and architect. With relationship-building at the core of his practice, he molds teams by instilling the necessary principles to transform them into trusted advisors. Amin is one of the founding advisors to The Success League and currently serves as an account manager for Persado. Amin is a University of San Francisco alum who now calls New York City home.