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How to Skillfully Scale Your Accounts

How to Skillfully Scale Your Accounts

It’s almost impossible to have a realistic playbook for managing the growth of certain accounts. Whether you’re scaling up or down, the changes can be unpredictable and may disrupt your traditional processes.

Finding a new routine will take time, effort, and possibly additional resources. As an account manager, you have tremendous pressure to keep clients happy and continue to be proactive in their business as you scale your services and support their business growth. It is a delicate balancing act which can drive you mad. And having to juggle all of these responsibilities may cause you to drop the ball at some of the most crucial times. However, below are a few tips to help you manage the process of strategically scaling your accounts.

Prioritize the day

Your working hours are limited, so use them wisely.

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One handy piece of advice would be to start mapping out your time almost down to the minute and assigning numbers to accounts that correspond to their level of importance.

This does not mean neglecting smaller accounts. Falling into a lazy routine with these accounts can cause you to miss opportunities to grow their revenue (and thus your own earnings) or to lose customers altogether.

Restructure your work

Account managers have an ever-increasing list of responsibilities. The top performers have seen success when they delegate some of their work out.

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For example, if you need to concentrate more on the relationship side of the accounts, then you can utilize another employee who might be better at project management. There is no adjusting to this change without experimentation, but the experimentation phase will be a critical time. Confusion or mistakes coupled with changes will make clients understandably nervous about their future. And because a business will always need to be ready to adapt, a high priority must be placed on how to work out the kinks to develop new systems and processes for dealing with problems.

Scale down select accounts

Don’t discount the process of scaling a business down or firing yourself from an account entirely.

By shrinking the scope of certain work arrangements, you free up time to allow you to either seek new business or strategically scale higher-potential accounts. At the same time, you will want to avoid over-servicing accounts just because your schedule is more flexible as the enthusiasm may be off-putting to a client.

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Navigate roadblocks

As a business expands, so do the layers of bureaucracy.

So, when you read news about one of your clients hitting a revenue milestone or getting a new round of financing, it may be the perfect time to initiate discussions about scaling your services with them. However, this must be done skillfully as growth can be both an exciting and tumultuous time for workers.

Though your contacts may have bigger budgets to purchase your products and recruit your services, they may need to start seeking additional approval from their supervisors and managers. When you deliver your first sales pitch, gather information about who the other decision makers may be and figure out what you can do to get their buy-in as well.

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Insist on a progressive timeline

It’s a big shock to the system if anyone jumps from spending $200 a month to $2,000, even when it is clear that doing so would be a wise investment. To help ease your clients into an aggressive spending spree, suggest slow increases to their budget over time. That way, they can go from spending $200 this month to $500 next month, $1,000 the month after, and finally $2,000 a month after 60 to 90 days.

This can alleviate a client’s anxiety as it mitigates their risk and gives you the opportunity to prove that they are making the right investment by purchasing your product or recruiting your services.

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The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the productivity paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

He wrote in his conclusion:

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

How do we measure productivity anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible causes of the productivity paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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  • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
  • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
  • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
  • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

The paradox and the recession

The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

“Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

Looking forward

A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

“Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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