Many service and subscription-based enterprises today have some version of a Technical Account Management program. For most organizations, Technical Account Management is a paid offering that can be purchased by customers. The consistency we see on this service across the industry affirms the need and importance for such a program. However, what differentiates one program over another? Which program delivers the value that customers pay for and which do not?
Here at Red Hat, we take great pride in our Technical Account Management program. We have a large, global network of Technical Account Managers (TAMs) servicing enterprise customers across the globe. In this post, I will walk you through the five tenets of our program to better show you what differentiates Red Hat TAMs from the competition and how customers can be more successful with this offering.
1. Clear vision and purpose
A famous proverb states that "When there is no vision, the people perish." With any program, team, or organization, when there is no clear vision and purpose, it’s hard for its people to accomplish greatness.
At Red Hat, our Technical Account Management program’s primary goal and mission statement is:
"To provide customers a personal connection into Red Hat and to facilitate engagement and success with Red Hat subscriptions."
That mission statement embodies our strategy and activities in how we engage with our customers. When our customers are successful with using our solutions, then we have done a good job.
If you ever wondered why your team is not performing to your level of expectation or making a valuable impact to your customers, it is probably a good idea to review the goals and KPIs you have set for them. Are they clear, concise, and achievable?
2. Passionate group of Technical Account Managers
Intense, fervent, vehement, heartfelt, eager, adrenalized, spirited, energetic, fervid, and wild are all synonyms of the word "passionate." Does that describe your team? If so, you have a great recipe for success with your Technical Account Management program. Being passionate about something can take a person to a new level. When someone is passionate, it’s not just a job. Instead, it is something they really love to do.
How do you foster an environment where your associates are passionate about what they do? At Red Hat, we have an open organization culture where transparency, collaboration, and sharing are key tenets of how we work with each other. This is a culture where everyone is encouraged to reach out to any leader in the entire organization to voice their opinion or provide feedback. Additionally, the culture at Red Hat is based on meritocracy under the premise that the best ideas win and associates are encouraged and rewarded for bringing forward their best thoughts. This working culture nurtures our TAMs to excel in what they do best- advocate for our customers. TAMs are able to be the voice of the customer at all levels of Red Hat from the code in our products to languages supported in our Customer Portal to make a difference in the overall customer experience. Through that, they are able to build deep relationships with their customers to a point that they are often treated as an extension member of their customer’s team.
Another aspect of fostering this open organization culture is to share knowledge and experiences with the world. Our TAMs share their technical knowledge on products and technologies they work with the most through the Technical Account Management blog series.
3. Strong relationships with internal organizations
As much as our TAMs are building deep relationships with their customers, they equally spend and invest a lot of time and effort in developing relationships with various key groups within Red Hat, such as product management, engineering, and support delivery. In my opinion, this is the sweet spot of being a TAM. Not only do they have the privilege of helping their customers be successful at using Red Hat products, but they also have the opportunity to help improve Red Hat products by bringing valuable feedback to product management and engineering through their work with their customers. Customers love this advocacy aspect of the TAM program where it offers an avenue for their voices to be heard. It really is a situation where everyone can benefit.
4. Customer success mentality
In the last few years, there has been a growing movement and adoption around customer success. Customer success is critical for any recurring renewal-based business, ensuring that their customers derive value and success in using the vendor’s products and solutions.
At Red Hat, the Technical Account Management program is a key component of the overall customer success strategy. TAMs work alongside the Customer Success Managers (CSM) with a two-pronged approach, where the TAM focuses on technical advocacy and the CSM focuses on overall business relationships. This partnership is important so that we are not just focusing on technical advocacy, but also our customers’ strategic directions and challenges.
5. Opportunity for career growth
This tenet is about attracting and retaining top talent in your organization, and it’s not specific to just Technical Account Management. It’s paramount that your TAMs are not only equipped to do their job but empowered with opportunities to drive their career direction.
At Red Hat, I have witnessed many career advancements for TAMs to various different roles. Given that the TAM role requires a customer-centric mindset, technical depth, and relationship-building skills, I believe that anyone with solid experience and track record should have many career advancement options. Why is this important? People generally want roles that can become a fulfilling career. When you can offer that opportunity, you can attract top talent.
I hope this article has helped shed some light on the different tenets of creating and managing a successful Technical Account Management program. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but if you stick to these basic tenets, I believe you will have a good foundation to stand on and evolve as needed. Remember: A successful Technical Account Management program can indirectly impact the bottom line for your organization.
A Red Hat Technical Account Manager (TAM) is a specialized product expert who works collaboratively with IT organizations to strategically plan for successful deployments and help realize optimal performance and growth. The TAM is part of Red Hat’s world-class Customer Experience and Engagement organization and provides proactive advice and guidance to help you identify and address potential problems before they occur. Should a problem arise, your TAM will own the issue and engage the best resources to resolve it as quickly as possible with minimal disruption to your business.
Innovation is only possible because of the people behind it. Join us at Red Hat Summit, May 2-4, to hear from TAMs and other Red Hat experts in person! Register now for only US$1,000 using code CEE17.
David Chia is a regional manager responsible for customer engagement for Red Hat's customers in the U.S. central region. He manages a team of Technical Account Managers and Customer Success Managers; two critical roles that influence renewal and install base growth for the subscription-based business. David was previously in the TAM role focusing on Red Hat Middleware technologies. Find more posts by David Chia at https://www.redhat.com/en/about/blog/authors/david-chia.