'Last year a foolish monk, this year no change'
About two and a half years ago I stepped into the In The Pocket office for a new challenge. I would be the second Account Manager in the sales team, next to my colleague Pieter who transitioned from a business development role. Most of our projects were focused on mobile development at that time.
After a couple of weeks, I found myself presenting budgets for one of our top clients in a steering committee. Working closely with a Project Manager and a cross-functional team, this made sense. The “operational” work meant little time was left to help clients on a strategic level.
The Digital Product Studio
A year later, we redefined the company to a ‘Digital Product Studio’. Designing and building for (and with) a combination of powerful technologies helps us to fully tackle the digital opportunity for our clients so they are able to focus on their core business.
Simultaneously we moved to fully autonomous teams. The “Project Manager” role disappeared and is since taken up by a Team Lead and the team’s Product Manager. The team has since been fully accountable and responsible to deliver value for their clients. As a result, more people became client facing.
How this impacted client relations
People think of account managers as sales guys and girls primarily focused on formal business arrangements. They keep tabs on credits and debts, supervising and directing what happens on “accounts”. And you’d be right, that is what we do. In the time that’s left we think about the bigger picture, about what is happening in our client’s business and how we can help them beat their competition and help their customers.
As autonomous teams brought more ownership to the team, responsibility for delivery, quality and product success, they became more aware of the budget. Team leads and product managers have subsequently been taking center-stage in our customer relationships when it comes to these topics.
So, we're changing things up
Today I updated my email signature and job title on LinkedIn to reflect our ambition. We now refer to ourselves as Client Partners. Our primary focus will be to focus on our customer's goals, building a trusting relationship and help our clients succeed in this digital jungle we call home.
I used to be wary of change, after all, there is some peace of mind to be found when you start mastering a job or skill. The reality is that in this day and age rapid change is inevitable, being able to adapt has made our species stronger. Becoming more experienced in my role, I noticed that change is what we sell to our customers. Most companies are faced by it, few can tackle it on their own.
In The Pocket has been growing, adapting, learning, improving and getting stronger in the 8 years its inception. This is no different, we change to be better at what we do: creating digital products that make people happy and businesses grow.
What does this actually mean?
There will be more time for us to spend focusing on the long-term goals of our clients, our company, and the team. Until now, Account Managers at In The Pocket were closely linked to a couple of teams, it was perfect for how we worked the past years. But as parts of our role shifted, the need for this tie has disappeared.
From now on the Client Partner team will evaluate who’s skills and knowledge best suits a specific customer. This will unquestionably allow us to build up even more expertise in specific areas, which in turn will benefit our clients and prospects.
In The Pocket operates at the crossroads of business and technological innovations. New business models are being developed, often on top of innovative and complex technology. Customers expect that Client Partners have a good overview of the opportunities and challenges they face, not just by bringing the best people to the table but to add value in every step of the conversation.
As we are growing we will compete with top agencies and traditional digital service companies on an international level. Having an experienced team that can navigate the complexity by communicating in a simple and business savvy way will be crucial to the success of both In The Pocket and our clients.