Picture walking into the office of your Sales Manager client. His desk contains a monitor, keyboard, mouse, tablet and an in-tray containing a mere few sheets of paper. To your client, even those few papers are an annoyance to him, which he prioritises to eliminate.
You ask your client how he works in what amounts to a 'paperless' environment. He replies that all his communication, his sales data and reports, images, and presentations are all electronic. His team knows to send him files rather than hard copy, and he replies in kind. You leave your meeting wondering if you could ever replicate a similar system in your world as an account manager.
Are you the type of account manager who has physical, paper-based folders for all occasions? Do you have folders for jobs; folders for clients; and folders for campaigns? Do you keep a sample of every job that you ever worked on, or every quote that you've received, complete with your calculations (markups, cost per unit) and comments?
Do you like to print off electronic files (such as spreadsheets, pdfs, proofs, or web articles), simply to have a paper copy in your hands?
If so, don't worry, you are quite normal. It may be that keeping a comprehensive paper-based filing system is all that you have ever known, and it's far better that you have this system than no decent system at all.
If you take a quick look around your desk your first thought may be that going paperless within AgencyLand is nigh-on impossible. Therefore, if a 'paperless' account management life truly is impossible, then could you find ways to go 'less paper' instead?
Here are some services and apps that can help make an e-centric life easier for you. Just remember that once you give your information to an external party, you are not only at the mercy of this company staying in business, but also looking after your data with all the care and security they profess to give.
The only way your information will remain truly private is if it remains on your local hard drive or network, or via a secure cloud-based service. Also give thought to how you'll handle confidential documents (you'll need a secure storage system); plus what back-up and virus protection systems you will use.
As our industry evolves and becomes increasingly complex, we should always look for ways to improve business efficiencies. The concept of streamlining workflow is imperative, especially for super-busy account managers.
Changing from a paper-based to e-based system will take time (especially if there is a lot of scanning involved). However, once you've done it, it should revolutionise your way of working - you'll save yourself space, time, and frustration.
It may well be that agency account managers can never fully rid themselves of a dependence on paper (especially when clients and internal teams require printouts). However, living an 'almost-paperless' life is totally achievable.
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Keeping clients happy will lead to repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals. Keeping suppliers happy could mean sharper pricing and improved turnaround times. Keeping your team happy will allow you to move work around your agency quickly and without fuss. And, most of all, it will mean people will like working with you, which should open more doors than you could ever imagine.
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