From our founding in 2008 until early 2023, our agency employed Account Managers. As an Account Manager, you were responsible for every aspect of the customer relationship: lead generation, acquisition, strategy, project management, and client retention. It was a challenging position and required someone to be both strong at cultivating client relationships and managing very important details in the life of a project.
At the beginning, Nick and I were our only Account Managers, and we divided our client list between the two of us. As we grew, so did that department; eventually it became a team of six led by a Head of Sales.
Earlier this year, we started exploring the separation of the Account Manager position into two key positions. The first would be responsible for lead generation and strategy, while the second would be responsible for managing the projects sold.
As we surveyed the skills and interests of our current team, we found that each person naturally fit into one of these two roles. We then spent the next six months planning for the division of the Account Management department into two new departments: Business Development and Project Management.
The EOS Tools We Used
This is not the first time we have split a department. Back in 2019, our Copywriting department was responsible for all content creation: SEO, branding, print, press, social, and digital advertising. As digital marketing continued to grow as a service for M&R, we split the responsibilities of a Copywriter and created a new department: Digital.
As we prepared to split our Account Management department, we were much better equipped. We had experience from splitting Copy, but we also had a deep understanding of EOS and the available tools to assist us in the work ahead.
Here’s a look at the tools we employed to successfully split a 15-year old department.
Our consideration of this decision began in our Executive-level meetings, starting with our quarterly session with our Implementer. There were several quarters over the course of a year and a half when we talked about the department and worked through some issues, primarily around how to determine project load and how to shift our focus to cold lead generation. We had identified a new market and that required the skillset of cultivating new relationships and leads.
After making progress at the guidance of our Implementer, we continued the conversation in our Executive L10 and eventually, after the final decision was made, we began discussing the strategy with the Sales team during their L10s. The meeting rhythms already baked into our day-to-day provided ample time to discuss the topic and make strategic decisions.
To ensure we approached the transition thoroughly, there were three total rocks dedicated to the transition. These rocks were completed by the HR and Sales seats. Here’s a list of each rock, along with their rock plans and timeline:
Rock 1: Evaluate current Account Management structure and provide recommendations to Executive team
- Create job description – Business Development Manager – 4/1
- Create job description – Project Manager – 4/1
- Present job descriptions to Executive – 4/18
- Review job descriptions with Account Management team – 4/20
- Create transition plan to new department, if necessary – 4/25
Rock 2: Transition Account Management department to Business Development Managers and Project Managers
- Meet with current AM team to review new department structure and timeline – 5/8
- Notify full team of division of roles and new teams – 5/9
- Post position for new Project Manager – 5/10
- Create training plan for Project Manager position – 5/12
- Create training plan for Business Development Manager – 5/15
- Interview for Project Manager position – 5/30
- Build out sample books for each BDM/PM team – 6/1
- Update the Sales Core Processes as necessary and assign roles to each task (PM vs BDM) – 6/7
- Determine meeting rhythm for PM and BDM – 6/7
- Train team on new roles – 6/8-13
- Hire Project Manager – 6/13
- Communicate with clients about the shift in department structure – 6/30
Rock 3: Define capacity expectations for Business Development Managers and Project Managers
- Review job responsibilities and identify key factors that determine capacity – 5/12
- Determine values that will be attributed to each factor to set standards for capacity – 5/26
- Review defined capacity expectations with Executive – 6/2
- Update Scorecard – 6/9
- Compile Books of Business for BDM/PM teams and review with teams – 6/23
It was challenging to launch a new department within 1 quarter, but building out thorough rock plans kept everything on track and focused on the right things; it also ensured everyone involved was aware of the work being done. We’ve written more about how we use rocks to accomplish our goals here.
Delegate & Elevate
As we prepared to divide our current Account Management team into two new roles, it was important to identify their skillsets and passions. The Delegate and Elevate chart is an excellent tool for doing this. When we use this chart, we encourage our team members to track all their work activity for two weeks. Each activity is placed into categories, or buckets, and he or she writes how long in total was spent on each task.
She will then place her tasks into 1 of 4 quadrants: (1) I love it and I’m great at it, (2) I like it and I’m good at it, (3) I don’t like it but I’m good at it, and (4) I don’t like it and I’m not good at it. The goal is to spend the majority of your time in quadrants 1 and 2. Through this exercise, we were able to quickly determine where the Account Managers desires lied.
Our current team was then divided, tasks were delegated, and as a result, each team member was elevated to do what they are most passionate and most skilled at.
Our Accountability chart identified the responsibilities of the Account Manager. After we developed job descriptions for the two new roles, we adjusted the Accountability Chart and identified the five primary roles for each position.
3 Step Processor
Prior to this discussion, our Head of Sales had created Core Processes for his department. They defined each major role for the Account Manager. As the department split into Business Development Managers and Project Managers, we evaluated each of those core processes and identified which position was responsible for what step.
This has reduced confusion, eliminated duplicitous work, and provided clarity on the division of roles.
EOS Brings Clarity
We are now 4 years into our EOS Journey, and EOS has proven over and over that it is the right business operating system for our marketing agency. We’ve utilized its tools countless times to guide us in making difficult and impactful decisions. In this specific transition, EOS helped us in 4 key ways:
- Predict challenges early in the process
- Prepare for needed training
- Build out an internal and external communication plan
- Reduce down time in the process of transitioning a department
If you’re not familiar with EOS, you can learn more about it on their website.