MTM Ep#17: How To Find Exceptional Account Managers for Marketing with Josh Muskin

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Welcome back to another episode of More Than Marketing. I’m your host, Arsham Mirshah. Today, we’re talking about the qualities to look for in a great marketing manager or account manager. If you have a manager in-house or if you’re working with an account manager at an agency, this episode is for you. I have my main man Josh Muskin who leads our account management team as a guest.


– They have both good communication qualities, a good understanding of digital marketing, and depending on the size of you team, they may have to be doing it all as well. Hey welcome back to another episode of More than Marketing. I’m your host Arsham Mirshah. Today we’re talking about the qualities to look for in a great marketing manager, if you have a marketing manager in house on your marketing team, or coordinator. Or if you’re working with an agency, what to look for in your account manager. Now, I have with me Josh Muskin, my main man Josh Muskin. He leads our account management team here at WebMechanix. So welcome, Josh.

– Happy to be here.

– Hell yeah. Tell me your background, man. What’s happening?

– My background is this company mainly. So I’ve done a little bit of everything here except probably development and design mainly because they don’t let me.

– You did at some point though, if I remember correctly.

– Most likely.

– And you’ve been here, what, 8 years now?

– This will be 8 in September.

– That’s, I mean, it’s a long time. Thank you for the loyalty but that’s, you know, almost ten years in the field so you know your stuff.

– I’ve done a thing or two, yeah.

– I would agree. So now you lead the account management team, what happened? You gravitated towards that?

– Yeah, it was one of those things where when I first started it was a little bit of everything. We were talking to our own clients, doing our own reporting, doing the campaigns themselves. And over the years one of the things that I really found a passion for was translating all of the really nitty-gritty complicated things we did into solutions for business problems that clients could then understand and get approval on what to move forward with. So over time just kind of through giving other people feedback and building a team more apt for that type of communication, we now have account support.

– I wanna dig into that because what you said is interesting, you know when you first started you were probably, if I remember correctly, just doing the work. Someone was like hey, do this thing, write this content, optimize this page, deploy this paid campaign, right?

– You got it.

– And so that’s all you were doing in year one let’s say.

– Probably two, too.

– Okay, and then what happened?

– So then it was okay, you’ve done a lot of this, you probably know all the details better than whoever was doing the explaining on the phone first. Why don’t you cover this part of the call because you have all the answers.

– Right, so you were probably dragged in on calls, right?

– More or less.

– Right, so to kind of accelerate the idea here for the listeners, why don’t you do it? What’s the big idea here, what are we talking about? When looking for qualities in a marketing manager or account manager, tell me.

– The different titles, and they’re different because one’s more associated with internal, one’s more associated with external, one’s more associated with an agency but we kind of require and expect them to have a lot of the same traits. So if you were to think that you’re a director of marketing or a CMO and you’re looking to hire someone to help you with marketing internally in your company, you’re probably gonna be looking for someone who has some broad experience across all the different options and avenues that you have in digital. They certainly need to be able to report to you what they’re doing and do so in such a way that you can then take it and report it back to maybe your CMO or the board or whoever. So they need to have both good communication qualities, a good understanding of digital marketing and depending on the size of your team, they may have to be doing it all as well. So they may have to understand things like the platforms, the ever-changing bits of technology that we’re constantly dealing with and be really interested in not only just learning it but also taking it, testing it, executing it all against something that is not a digital marketing goal but it’s a company goal. Maybe it’s revenue, maybe number of deals and they have to know how to get from click-through rates all the way to dollars made.

– I think that’s the most important part, is connecting the campaigns that we’re doing in marketing to the actual bottom line. And knowing that the work that we’re doing in marketing, there’s probably another step between what we do and it showing up on the bottom line. Or not one step, maybe many steps for instance, sales. For instance, delivery of the product or the service. Right, so I think the best marketing managers or account managers understand the business or understand that there are other steps to the business. Other functions that need to know what marketing is doing and then marketing needs to know what they’re doing also. So how can we test for that I guess, right? If I’m a CMO and I need to hire or I have someone, I agree they need to have that communication skill, they need to know what’s possible, what’s not possible. They need to be able to report up and down and sideways but how do you test that they have done the work.

– Made it all the way through.

– Yeah. Or can relate to the business, you know?

– Yeah, I mean one good question especially if you’re someone in the position where you haven’t been in the platforms, you’re probably not gonna have a lot of back and forth in something like an interview asking about which buttons you click to enable which features. So one interesting question would be if you know that this is our goal, this is our customer, this is the type of person who buys from us, talk to me about how you would go almost backwards from that person to what needs to happen in sales, what kind of lead needs to be generated, what kind of campaigns can generate that lead. ‘Cause you’ll get a lot of insight into people who can say okay, I know that if we need this person, this demographic, I can give you someone similar to that. Here’s the qualification sales is gonna have to do and here’s how I can give you leads that sales then is able to qualify.

– I like that question. I like that question, you’re reverse engineering and then what you’re doing is you’re saying can that person put themselves in the mindset of definitely the buyer which you need to do as a marketer to get the right message across, but then also in the mindset of the sales team or the product delivery or service folks if that exists.

– Yeah, there’s this historic and really silly battle between marketing and sales of you know sales saying well you know marketing leads aren’t good and marketing saying well sales can’t close anything but one of the things that has become, I don’t wanna say easier to do over the years with technology but it’s at least more trackable and more concrete. It’s sales that’s saying here are the requirements that we need and marketing can then tailor to that. So especially if you’re looking for a one-man show internally or someone who you’re gonna have to have as externally through an agency like they’re gonna have to understand that they’re not just servicing the company, they’re really servicing the sales folks in the event that there is a team behind it.

– Completely agree with that. So definitely servicing, yes definitely and that’s kind of where now this whole buzz around like sales enablement is coming, you know getting the sales people the right information or content or what have you to you know, make more, better, faster sales, right? So let’s go back to this account management, right? I’ve seen it, we’ve seen it, ’cause we’ve worked through partners where the account manager will say, here’s the tell-tale sign of knowing whether your account manager knows, do you know what the sign is? If you’re on the call and you’re like hey account manager, what about this, what about that, what do they say?

– I’ll go ask.

– I’ll go ask, I don’t know, I’ll get back to you, right? Which look, if they don’t know it’s good for them to be transparent and to say I don’t know, I’ll get back to you, sure. But if that’s the only answer you ever get, that means that they’re not intimate with the work or what goes into the work. And really, maybe you’ve heard this. I’ve heard from clients actually, I’ll say. I’ve heard from clients that they say who’s our account manager gonna be? And they’re asking because they don’t want the account manager to be just shielding our production team or people actually, experts that are doing the work from the client. Have you experienced that?

– They wanna know who they can, ’cause that’s where the communication happens. Just think about the telephone game, they wanna know that that’s really the main stop of the telephone. They don’t want just a bunch of notes going from person A back to groups B, C and D because something’s getting lost. So they’re mainly interested especially if it’s in the sales process they wanna do a little interview of themselves. Are you going to be able to understand my business, are you gonna know and be able to kind of riff with me on strategy on the phones. And that’s really valuable for a client who’s gonna be paying really any amount of money going, I know the person I’m talking to is A, going to be able to understand what I want, B, help me translate it in the stuff that they can help me with, and C, facilitate all of that internally where I’m not able to.

– So here’s a quick takeaway for the CMOs or VPs out there. That when you’re hiring an agency, ask them in the sales process well, the agency’s trying to sell you, ask them to tell you who your account manager’s gonna be. Get that person on the phone, you know, go ahead and interview them a little bit. Ask them what they’ve done in your industry or any wins they’re proud of or what they’ve learned in marketing recently. I don’t know, just an idea.

– And that person’s gonna want to be involved at that point in the process, that’s one of the things that our sales team does a really good job with is hey, this is the person you’re gonna be working with, there’s no bait and switch here, this is the guy, ask him whatever you want. Or this is the girl, she can handle everything you’ve talked about, why don’t you two sit in a room and talk for an hour so that the person that’s gonna be inheriting that account is gonna be thankful for that opportunity. ‘Cause they’ll get a headstart on all the stuff that they’re gonna be dealing with.

– That’s right, and build that bond, yeah I completely agree. So that’s good, that’s a good little takeaway there and similarly in the interview process if you’re a CMO hiring or marketing manager, same thing, you know? Well I like your question. It’s like okay, let’s work backwards. I think another kind of question which is similar to yours would be like how can we partner with our delivery folks or service or product delivery or product development folks. How can we partner with our sales folks to better our marketing campaigns, right? Because that is very similar to your question or the idea you were trying to get across. ‘Cause it’s like okay, makes them have to think in that holistic business view, you know?

– Yeah, and it tailors on almost, probably all of their messaging. If they know the first six questions that a BDR is gonna ask on a code call, or once they call a prospect back, they can either use those as exclusionary types of targeting, they can pre-ask some of those questions

– You can pre-ask, yeah.

– When someone fills a form out so that the sales person…

– Progressive profiling.

– … doesn’t even have to worry about it. You know there’s all sorts of things that they can do to enable them because the sales person who’s happy with the leads that they’re getting is going to be just thrilled to called every single one of them.

– That much more productive, right?

– Yeah.

– And it’s sad that there’s this kind of like, you know.

– It doesn’t have to be that way.

– It doesn’t have to be that way, that definitely doesn’t have to be that way so let’s be proactive in helping them out. And you’re right, like they can pre-ask, they can use this criteria. I also would like to hear them say okay, we can ask our current customers for feedback, right? We can do market research, we can ask sales for common objections, put those on our pages, FAQs. I don’t know, just ideas you know?

– Absolutely.

– So what is your team doing then to kinda make sure we’re doing this? On our side.

– Yeah. The thing that’s true about all of them is that all of them came through the ringer of doing all of the execution first. So not only do they have hands-on experience with the platforms, our internal strategies and the way we handle pairing things like SEO and PPC data together, they’ve also had to explain it internally a million times. So by the time the get on the phones with the clients, even if the client’s industry is relatively new and they have to go through a learning curve to know who they are, what their competitors are, the lockdown information is what we do, how we do it, how we know it works and then they really just have to figure out the way of how we combine those things for the client’s needs.

– Right, so in that sense, I know a lot of the people on your team and I know that they came up doing the work. Maybe they did it here or somewhere else but like really if you just look at their resume, I mean when you’re looking to hire on your team, what do you do? You look at their resume.

– We’re looking for anything that says I’ve physically done this or I’ve physically been in charge of coming up with the combination of things. ‘Cause one things that’s become more apparent over the years is whether you’re hiring internally or externally, you wanna shy away from potentially just hiring someone with a whole lot of experience in one service line. Unless you’re building a team of I have an SEO person and a paid advertising person, you really wanna be asking questions like what’s the digital marketing strategy behind all of this.

– Which encompasses many scopes.

– It does and we always talk about it as levers. Which levers do we need to pull to get to whatever the goal is? It’s not always SEO and PPC. Sometimes it’s three other things in different layers of capacity so to directly answer your question, it’s do they have experience kind of doing it so they know what the ramifications are of change A versus change B, and have they been in a sort of bilingual environment of using multiple service lines.

– Quad lingo.

– Yeah.

– Channels. Yeah and to your point levers is also you know, what levers do you use when, how each lever impacts the other.

– Sure, and..

– You know, like..

– Go ahead.

– Go ahead. Like for instance, keyboard research can span between SEO and PPC, for example.

– And to expand on that, organic keyboard data went away in what, 2010 or 11?

– Yeah.

– But if you’re also running PPC, you get that research I mean not for free, you’re paying for whatever.

– Yeah, you’re paying for it, sure, right.

– You can at least take it and it applies directly to organics so having someone who understands that those things while they’re totally different platforms, totally different data sets, how they can still tie and work together is imperative to be able to you know, use one hand to feed the other.

– Yeah, I completely agree. That’s awesome and to use some of the terminologies like the T-shape marketer. Can you explain T-shape?

– Yeah, T-shape marketer, if you think about experience as a width and you have a little bit of experience and a bunch of different service lines. You know SEO, you know e-mail, you know a bit about development kind of all the way across. But you probably know a lot about a few things. So giving you that kind of cross T shape.

– Yup, yup. Yeah, so that’s where I mean I think we believe that T-shape gives you that experience and that perspective enough to be able to understand what different channels may work, what may not work, depending on the funnel stage or the industry of what have you. So that’s what that T the top of the T does, and then the depth is where I can really kind of build a team or do the work or hold accountable someone else doing the work so not just pulling the wool over my eyes. So I can deeply explain this where the vertical point of the T comes from. I know we here are trying to build everyone to have a good T, top of the T at least before they start to go drill down. You’re trying to do that on your team too, and I would imagine you recommend that…

– That everyone do that.

– Yeah.

– I mean you’re gonna have a more exaggerated version of that if you’re trying to hire the one-man superhero internally, ’cause there gonna have to be pretty deep in all the things.

– In all the things.

– So a harder person to find, but that’s going to be more important if they don’t have backup and experts in a couple other places.

– Good luck finding, here’s a good combination. Good luck finding a developer who’s also an awesome copyrighter. Like that’s the two, I would just like not see ever. If there is a developer-copyrighter hybrid out there, I would love to meet you.

– You can apply.

– Yeah, careers I’ll ever get. I’d love to see that combo. That’d be really interesting, I don’t know. Just making things up but what else? So what else should people be looking for in there. Like it shouldn’t be, you don’t want a yes-man or yes-woman in other cases, like a yes-person. Someone who just like yeah, whatever you say, mr/ms client. ‘Cause at that point you’re driving the ship, and maybe you have the best ideas, maybe you don’t, but don’t you want someone who’s gonna be coming to you with proactive ideas, I mean.

– If nothing else, someone who’s gonna force a conversation.

– Right, and ask questions.

– You know, you don’t want the opposite of that either. You don’t want no, no, no.

– Right, yeah, sure, that’s good.

– But at least okay, here’s what I think the outcome of that idea would be, if we integrate this other idea here’s how I think it might change and what we considered doing multiple. Sometimes the answer is this is what we have to do, the board demanded it and here we are, fine.

– We see that all the time and that’s fine.

– But it’s our job if nothing else to say here are the other options you have if we think that other options are warranted, or here are ways where you can enhance that activity with a few other things so that you can make it even more powerful.

– And let’s make sure we’re aligned, right? So here’s some other options, here’s what we’re seeing. You’re telling us this, is this what you see as the goal? Is this what you see as the milestone, so we can help flesh out the milestones, right? And this goes again, say you’re the CMO or your board says you gotta do something, okay great. Now you go to your agency or your marketing manager. Alright, here’s what we gotta do whether it’s an agency or marketing manager or your team or internal or external, you gotta make sure that alignment is there. So the brief is a good tool to get alignment there so a good marketing team or internally or externally with an agency, you’d see a lot of briefs flying around.

– And it answers some basic questions, things like budget, timeline, how imperative are results immediately versus a month from now. You know, a good example is someone may say, we really wanna target these keywords and we need ten leads out of this initiative. The timeline question becomes very important because it’s like we need ten leads by 3pm. Then it’s okay we’re probably gonna go something on the paid route versus we need ten leads this month, maybe or eventually would be fine. Then you can potentially bring in some things like SEO or maybe start to do some e-mails. So it’s really important to kind of lock all that down because as you were saying, the direction you take could be vastly different with one different variable being changed.

– That’s right. That’s good, so to kind of hone it in, when interviewing, how do you wanna leave this? When leaving an agency or when interviewing someone for your team, is that fair?

– Yeah.

– Then do what?

– I would definitely ask questions with them that span sales and marketing with a real goal in mind. You probably have one if you’re in the hiring process anyway, here’s where we need to be as transparent with that as you legally can and say how would you attack this from a sales and marketing perspective. If you’re asking them to do something outside of digitally, you can incorporate some questions there. But what you should leave with is an understanding of how well they understand how sales people interact with leads, what kind of information that they’re going to need to be successful. As well as how they think and talk out loud through the process of picking different platforms or strategies and how they believe those are going to generate the leads that sales needs to then be able to close would be a really big one. And the other one that I would encourage you to challenge them to answer would be unique a little bit to each business but challenge their translation ability from the super scientific to what it is that you’re going to be able to leverage internally.

– What does this accomplish or why are we doing this.

– Can they give it all to you in two sentences. You know, I have a literal rocket science friend who launched a satellite a couple years ago and he said something in basically german to me about what he was doing and I just kind of looked at him and he went, launching satellite.

– Got it.

– Got it. That’s all you need to say man.

– But you need someone who has the ability to do both of those because they’re going to be talking to potentially an outside vendor in the leads and the details but they’re also gonna be talking to you. And you’re gonna have to know okay cool, here’s the initiative level, the tactical things you’re doing behind it, that’s probably good, now I can go and feed that upstream.

– I love it man, I love it. Yeah, the account manager in an agency is playing a very difficult job and I think internally the same thing. The marketing manager or coordinator, whatever the title is, it doesn’t matter. The person who’s interfacing with the big picture thinkers and also interfacing with the detail-oriented people who are actually in the platform, writing the copy, pressing the buttons, getting the job done. That is a hard job. That is a hard job and what we’re saying it sounds like to be prepared for that job you should probably come up doing that work but also while you’re coming up doing that work you should also be kind of understanding how business works. Like we’re not just getting leads just for the sake of it. We want these leads to close. So it’s like a quantity versus quality game for example. They need to understand that, they need to understand profit margins per product line or per whatever. That’s what we’re talking about. Essentially that, I don’t wanna call it a middle person or middle man or something like that ’cause that undervalues it, in fact it’s quite the opposite. It’s this person’s extremely valuable if they’re doing their job right.

– Yeah. Consultative executor.

– Wow, woo. Consultative executor. That’s your new job title.

– Done.

– Done. Yeah, LinkedIn, write it out, right. So yeah, for all y’all out there, do you have anything else you wanna add come to mind?

– I don’t think so.

– Consultative executor. I think we should end on that.

– Works for me.

– Alright, so when you’re interviewing, whether for your internal team, you’re interviewing an agency, you’re looking for a consultative executor. Someone who… it’s so good. I’m laughing, it’s really good. Someone who’s done the work, knows the details that go into each channel but also understands business and how the different business functions, sales, service, product, interact with marketing so that information can flow and we can become the most efficient possible. Right?

– Works for me.

– Works for me. Cool, great. So interviewing your agency, you know another tip is to get the actual person who’s gonna be running your account on the phone during the sales process as oppose to waiting. We’ve seen this happen, I hate it. The sales person sells you, they do a great job. Promise you the pie in the sky, whatever, they promise you the world. And then you sign, and then you never talk to that person again and they hand you off to someone else who is surprised that you’re a new client for that agency like that’s not how it should be. The account manager should be involved in the sale. From our perspective.

– I know you wanna end on consultative executor.

– No, no, it’s fine.

– For anyone who’s looking to get into that role.

– Yes. So we talked a lot about how to find them, how to evaluate them, but anyone who’s looking to get into that role, particularly someone who has never done any of this before, right out of college, something like that. One of the best things you can challenge yourself to do. Start a website and make a dollar. Because if you can start a website and make a dollar, you’re going to have to learn a million and one things. One, how do websites work. Two, how to market them, so that way people see them. Three, how do I create something of value that other people will buy and four, how do I convince them that it’s something of theirs to value in the first place.

– I absolutely love it, have you done this?

– I have.

– Yes he has, this guy had. I knew you have, that was an easy lay of question. But yeah, that makes a lot of sense and you know, we call it evidence of hustle. So that’s a little term we use here, evidence of hustle is someone who is doing this stuff for themselves because they’re passionate about it. I think that’s what it comes down to.

– Yep.

– Yeah.

– That resume will rise to the top of the list very quickly.

– That’s very true, and they will soon be a consultative executor.

– Just to get it at the end.

– That’s all I’m doing, just to get it in. Thank you Josh, really appreciate it. Good stuff man, you’re leading an awesome team. I know you know that. Hopefully this was helpful to y’all out there. If you like it, like it, if you don’t like it then comment. Either way, share it. If you don’t like it, share it and say I really didn’t like this.

– We’ll follow up to ask why.

– Right, exactly. Love the feedback. Thank y’all out there, Josh Muskin, talk to you next time.

Josh Muskin

Josh MuskinHead of Sales & Marketing

Arsham Mirshah

Arsham MirshahCEO & Co-Founder

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