Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dreamforce 2012 - Networking Tangents & the Mysterious Account Manager

With Dreamforce fast approaching, schedules are getting filled and calendars are getting booked. After several years of using the platform and attending Dreamforce, one of the things that strikes me as quite funny is who uses the opportunity to meet with you and who does not. Sure, there's a long line of partners and other vendors who are anxious to meet you, but what about the account manager and the staff that you actually work with -- theoretically...

Over the past years, I've had three account managers try to make arrangements to meet with me. Or rather, I've had two account managers try to meet with me during the event and one arrange a meeting/presentation near the end. At the same time, the two account managers who I did meet with have since moved on to work with partners. Funny thing is, they continue to meet with me and probably will meet with me again this year.

Contrast that with some of the other account managers I've had to deal with over the years. These are the guys who consider sending a template bulk email as a customer touch. Some of these guys seem more focused on selling tickets to Dreamforce than to understanding our account. This is typically magnified by's insistence on shuffling account managers every year.

One year, I was invited to a group reception event by my account rep -- a guy who I never met in person. In addition to not meeting him at the reception, I also didn't meet the 'customer success manager' that I was previously introduced to by email. In fact, the only person from Salesforce that I did meet was a nice account rep handling very small accounts in the Southwest. And, even though it seemed like I was sort of 'in the way' of her gathering with her colleagues and friends, she was still thoughful enough to chat and discuss my account with me. I found it a bit ironic.

Sometimes it makes you want to send a note:
Dear Mr. Benioff,
Here's one big reason why your product isn't a success in our account -- for as much know-your-customer as I would expect from one of the most amazing software products that I've used, you guys really don't seem to understand us, to interact with us, to have a strategic plan for our account...
But perhaps this is the larger aspect of the SaaS pyramid. When you're down at the base, you look a lot like scraps.

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