Project Management Central

Please login or join to subscribe to this thread

Stakeholder Management - Account Managers
Network:193



Hello Everybody,

I am curious to get other's take on stakeholder management in client facing projects in a matrix environment. Some organizations such as mine have account managers who interface with clients basically in a customer satisfaction role on ongoing operations/business relationships. In some cases I feel like this causes project conflict because these individuals provide the client with an "outlet" outside of project channels to make special requests: free services/concessions, discounts, escalations with executives to resolve perceived issues, etc. This seems to put the PM at a disadvantage with always having to play the role of the "bad cop" while these others get to be the "good cop" being the ones who get to provide these special dispensations. The account managers are not given the same constraints of budget and scope management. This leads the client (pavlog dog syndrome) to continue to work outside project channels, and become dissatisfied with the PM and see them as an obstacle and not an ally which creates conflict within the project. In my opinion, for client facing projects it is better to streamline all communications regarding the project through the PM to avoid these pitfalls.

Questions:
-Has anybody else come across this situation/type of organization and feel the same way?
-Tips for stakeholder management in this type of environment?
-If you were CEO and could create your ideal organization: would you allow these additional client channels of communication outside of the PM?

Thanks in advance for your insight!
Sort By:
Network:1428



This is a common situation in sales organizations. Fixing it requires:

1. Establishing some rules of engagement with the client's AM once a deal is signed
2. Developing a good, trust-based working relationship with the AM

Usually AM's are incented based on customer satisfaction or retention so while it can be tempting to say "yes" to everything the customer asks for, good AMs know that if their organizations can't deliver on those promises, customer satisfaction will suffer much more.

Kiron
...
1 reply by Patrick Dicey
Apr 15, 2019 3:26 PM
Patrick Dicey
...
Thanks for your reply Kiron! In this case, the account managers I mention are not even in sales but others that are assigned for "client success" purposes. I have definitely come across similar challenges in other organizations where it was sales account managers, though. At least in those cases, the sales folks are experienced with budget constraints.

Some of the resources I mention here have the title of "client success manager" or "Professional services account manager." In most cases, I don't fault any of the groups interactions and how they engage with the client. It's just a negative of this organizational structure that seems to put the PM at a disadvantage. In many cases I am not sure how these folks could engage any differently in their role to avoid these pitfalls.
Network:193



Apr 15, 2019 2:00 PM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
This is a common situation in sales organizations. Fixing it requires:

1. Establishing some rules of engagement with the client's AM once a deal is signed
2. Developing a good, trust-based working relationship with the AM

Usually AM's are incented based on customer satisfaction or retention so while it can be tempting to say "yes" to everything the customer asks for, good AMs know that if their organizations can't deliver on those promises, customer satisfaction will suffer much more.

Kiron
Thanks for your reply Kiron! In this case, the account managers I mention are not even in sales but others that are assigned for "client success" purposes. I have definitely come across similar challenges in other organizations where it was sales account managers, though. At least in those cases, the sales folks are experienced with budget constraints.

Some of the resources I mention here have the title of "client success manager" or "Professional services account manager." In most cases, I don't fault any of the groups interactions and how they engage with the client. It's just a negative of this organizational structure that seems to put the PM at a disadvantage. In many cases I am not sure how these folks could engage any differently in their role to avoid these pitfalls.
Network:249



I've been in that situation. It turns into the account manager and customer against the PM. We worked under different branches of the organization, so in my case I had to elevate it through the management structure that we were supposed to be working on the same team.

It also put me in a situation where I became extremely formal and meticulous on CYA documentation for everything. Otherwise the account manager would commit to things that our team hadn't promised, with the excuse, "I thought you said..." and try to pin it on the project team.

I knew they were trying to get me to commit to something by putting me on the spot in front of the customer so that I would cave in rather than get into an internal argument. That required me to maintain my professionalism by being very polite but firm during meetings, and then more direct and somewhat less polite with the account manager and their functional management after the meeting.
...
1 reply by Patrick Dicey
Apr 18, 2019 1:23 PM
Patrick Dicey
...
That can definitely be a frustrating situation to be in Keith! In those cases I think you handled it the best way possible, with detailed notes/meeting minutes on agreements, although that can challenging to keep up with on a consistent level. Meeting minutes have saved me in the past as well.

In my specific/current case, the people I am working with do not seem to be malicious and have the best intentions. It's more of an organizational structure issue that naturally creates the conflict with the client.
Network:1818



Time ago I worked as LATAM Professional Services Division in one of the top ten database-development tools (main business) company. I faced this situation. In fact, a hugh transformation was made to solve this type of situation where three main pillars were created into the structure: finance, professional services, sales. I can write a lot about things this company made to face it. For example, to be one of the ten companies that started a new institute to create a new role: the business analyst. Presales people (presales was one of the areas inside professional services) Presales people went to account managers to understand the problems and helping to create the solution. This solved in part the problem situation because there was no other thing for account managers than close the commercial agreement based on what business analyst agreed with the customer.
...
1 reply by Patrick Dicey
Apr 18, 2019 1:27 PM
Patrick Dicey
...
Thanks for sharing Sergio... good to hear from you again. You seem to be a staple on the forum! I do like a structure where someone other than sales has a focus on determining 'solutions' and sales is more driven on identifying opportunities and closing/negotiating agreements.

Cheers,

Patrick
Network:193



Apr 15, 2019 5:25 PM
Replying to Keith Novak
...
I've been in that situation. It turns into the account manager and customer against the PM. We worked under different branches of the organization, so in my case I had to elevate it through the management structure that we were supposed to be working on the same team.

It also put me in a situation where I became extremely formal and meticulous on CYA documentation for everything. Otherwise the account manager would commit to things that our team hadn't promised, with the excuse, "I thought you said..." and try to pin it on the project team.

I knew they were trying to get me to commit to something by putting me on the spot in front of the customer so that I would cave in rather than get into an internal argument. That required me to maintain my professionalism by being very polite but firm during meetings, and then more direct and somewhat less polite with the account manager and their functional management after the meeting.
That can definitely be a frustrating situation to be in Keith! In those cases I think you handled it the best way possible, with detailed notes/meeting minutes on agreements, although that can challenging to keep up with on a consistent level. Meeting minutes have saved me in the past as well.

In my specific/current case, the people I am working with do not seem to be malicious and have the best intentions. It's more of an organizational structure issue that naturally creates the conflict with the client.
Network:193



Apr 15, 2019 6:07 PM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
Time ago I worked as LATAM Professional Services Division in one of the top ten database-development tools (main business) company. I faced this situation. In fact, a hugh transformation was made to solve this type of situation where three main pillars were created into the structure: finance, professional services, sales. I can write a lot about things this company made to face it. For example, to be one of the ten companies that started a new institute to create a new role: the business analyst. Presales people (presales was one of the areas inside professional services) Presales people went to account managers to understand the problems and helping to create the solution. This solved in part the problem situation because there was no other thing for account managers than close the commercial agreement based on what business analyst agreed with the customer.
Thanks for sharing Sergio... good to hear from you again. You seem to be a staple on the forum! I do like a structure where someone other than sales has a focus on determining 'solutions' and sales is more driven on identifying opportunities and closing/negotiating agreements.

Cheers,

Patrick

Please login or join to reply

Content ID:
ADVERTISEMENTS

"Work is what you do for others . . . art is what you do for yourself."

- Stephen Sondheim

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsors