When I first became a Program Manager and Client Account Manager (CAM) years ago, I was daunted by how much work there was, and how many facets there are to the work.
What If You’re Not In Marketing or in Sales?
If you’re not in Marketing or in Sales, but you would like to be a strong leader in your company, then you should study these tasks, help out or lead an effort every single time you can, and become a valued contributor in one or more of these areas. The absolute quickest way to the top in most professional services firms is to be a strong contributor in these areas.
I Thought Someone Was Kidding Me
Frankly, I thought someone was spoofing me that I was expected to perform well at all the tasks and duties. But the CAMs at engineering companies – and at other professional services firms – are usually “Seller-Do-ers” and these are their tasks. I made the list so I wouldn’t forget anything, and I regularly monitored my performance against the list.
I Didn’t Do It All Myself
I didn’t do all the work myself; I was a small part of an extremely smooth-running and cooperative team (you know who you are). But on my client account, I was responsible for our results. The amount of work was daunting. The enormous effort required caused me to break out in nervous laughter. I loved it.
The Customer Journey
To be a leader in marketing or selling, everything we do must be absolutely centered on the customer’s needs, the customer’s point-of-view, the quality of the customer’s journey with us. This list gives the CAM’s duties, but above all, the experience the customer is having with us that day comes first.
The 16 P’s of Being a Leader in Marketing or Selling
These are not all the tasks of a Client Account Manager (CAM); I’m sure I’ve forgotten some from my original list long ago. Here they are in no particular order. Please tell me what “P’s” you would add.
1. Product – the CAM’s job is to be thoroughly knowledgeable about her firm’s products/services/offerings, to understand how they can be tailored to fulfill her client’s needs and desires, and how the offerings can be improved to please the client and can best be delivered.
2. Positioning – the CAM’s understands her firm’s position in the field of competitors, her firm’s strengths and weaknesses in that field of competitors; she understands and knows how to improve her firm’s position as a provider and a competitor in her client’s eyes.
3. Promoting – the CAM stays aware of how the firm is promoting itself in the marketplace, what special skills and benefits are being touted, aligning her efforts with those efforts, and contributing data about marketplace and client needs and trends.
4. Pitching – this “P” is about speaking in a public setting. From networking events to convention crowds to business lunches to one-on-one meetings, the CAM’s job is to speak in an attractive, intriguing way about her firm and its services, positioning the firm well in the minds of listeners and prospective clients. But the CAM is always gracious, brief, and concise when speaking publicly. She leaves lots of time for the second and equally important part of this task: listening to the clients.
5. Prospecting – the CAM’s job is to prospect for clients, that is, to search out and discover potential clients for her firm’s services and products, either within industry sectors targeted by her firm, or by suggesting and supporting why new sectors and new types of clients should be pursued.
6. “Pairing” – the CAM “pairs up” the best potential clients with the elements of her Sales Funnel; that is, she qualifies the prospects, identifies the prospects that meet her requirements for “ideal client” and develops a marketing, sales, and resources plan to turn the qualified prospect into a client.
7. “Proposaling” – the CAM knows how to write a winning proposal. Writing entirely from the client’s point-of-view, she re-states the client’s true need as the Problem Definition and states her team’s solution to the problem. She describes the benefits of the particular solution, the technical team and resources she’s assembled to solve the problem, and states a winning price. She has taken all the risks of the proposal and the project into consideration, and makes the proposal brief and compelling.
8. Pricing – the CAM and her team know the intricacies of constructing a winning bid/price for the project. She has taken into account the client’s true, often unspoken, needs and schedule demands and the team has written a fair price, amply defended by the rest of the proposal. She has pointed out the savings and advantages built into her team’s solution to the problem.
9. (Party! – crucial task #9 does not appear on most CAM job descriptions! After winning the work, the CAM throws a celebration to thank her proposal team and welcome the project team.)
10. Production – the CAM and her team swing into action on the project and produce results. The Project Managers who report to the CAM set up Project Instructions, task leaders, task teams, schedules, task budgets, etc.
11. Performing and Pleasing – everyone on the team is accountable for performing the project and pleasing the client, but it is the CAM’s responsibility to regularly and honestly ask whether the client is pleased, discover the cause when the client is not pleased and make the necessary changes, while keeping the program on budget and on schedule.
12. Profit – the CAM approved the price and scope-of-work in the proposal and now it is her job to bring the project in on budget, making the percentage of profit agreed to with her management. Project monitoring and meetings with project managers are required; changes in staff may be required. The CAM or Program Manager foresees changes in the project scope or price and, if necessary, takes the requested change order to the client, together with work-around plans and solutions. All these efforts are directed at pleasing the client while bringing the project in at the agreed-to profit.
13. Paperwork – each of the tasks has its own, sometimes enormous, “paperwork” requirements, everything from Sales Funnel updates to reviewing job-cost-and-profit reports to authoring sector growth plans. The CAM knows there is no more sure route to failure and loss of support in her company than being late on her paperwork requirements. Some can be delegated but the CAM is accountable for accuracy and for knowing and meeting her “numbers”. She knows that accurate, on-time paperwork is her ticket to the show; that her boss can cover her back more easily if her paperwork’s done.
14. Propagation/Scaling – a successful CAM knows how to repeat her success and propagate the winning formula into more project wins, revenue, and profit. She knows it saves time, energy, and resources to identify the winning patterns in her prospecting, proposaling, and building client relationships. She takes it as a challenge to scale those patterns into systems, and scale those systems into methods for her team and other Seller-Do-ers.
15. People and Appraisals – in addition to the other 15 duties listed here, the CAM has no more important duty than training and developing her team and her people. Her firm’s product is the imagination and problem-solving of its people; all the proposals and project wins come solely from the initiative and problem-solving of the team. The CAM takes care to give prompt, brief, encouraging feedback; she looks for opportunities that will let her teammates dare themselves to get better; she welcomes training opportunities for her team and makes sure the overhead time is available; she prepares hard to give fair and balanced appraisals. She thanks her team, defends her team, keeps her team out of trouble, and goes to bat to see they are recognized and rewarded.
16. Programs – the CAM contributes her findings, plans, and her creativity to corporate programs for growing the firm, growing its people and teams, growing its customer base, and growing the community. She knows that the programs and the other 15 P’s add up to all-important employee engagement and customer engagement.
You Seller-Do-ers out there will recognize that “Sales Funnel” management is covered by the first 8 P’s. Other P’s – priority-setting, productivity, problem-solving – are just as important but they apply to everyone, not just CAMs.
How do you like the list? What did I leave out? Please join in the discussion.
If you’re not a Client Account Manager or a leader in your company and you’d like to be, this list is a terrific place to start assessing and growing your skills. If you need any help, just click “Comment” and ask.