Irene joined as a Sales Consultant at Meltwater Hong Kong in 2017, then transitioned to the Client Success team as an Account Manager and promoted to Client Success Manager after 2.5 years. As a previous track & field athlete since high school, Irene remains active outside of work, she enjoys various kinds of outdoor activities throughout the year, including hiking in autumn, snowboarding in winter, and currently picking up wakeboarding as a summer sport. As an enthusiastic runner, she always jogs outdoors in the evenings and makes the extra turn to the dog park to check out cute puppies! She also loves movies and learning Korean through soap dramas.
Q: I noticed that you graduated from CUHK with a BBA in Hotel and Tourism Management. What made you pursue a career in SaaS sales?
The reason I chose and studied Hotel and Tourism because it is an industry about creating enjoyable experiences for guests. I enjoyed interacting with people from all walks and corners of life. After the completion of a few internships at a hotel. I realized that it is a well established industry where it takes a longer turn for job promotions to come around, where I was looking for a fast paced career when I graduated. . AI and technology are intrinsically taking over the world by storm, so I want to place myself in the forefront of the digital/tech industry. I had myself looking out to find opportunities where there is the client facing side, mainly within the areas of sales & marketing, hopefully a more culturally diverse or multinational to fit my cultural preferences. Then I came across Meltwater, at first it was the name that caught my attention, then through videos, review sites and their effort in African incubator MEST. ThenI thought, oh okay, this is something different.
The interview process was intense. Though it did speak to me as a place to expect career and personal growth. It was to a larger extent what it promised -a multinational, culturally vibrant company with a young & start-up vibe, yet not completely compromising structure and methodologies of how they approach their business. Meltwater’s B2B sales role allows me to gather as much information as possible about my potential customers, and their trust, to figure out what they want or need and then connect the dots between that need and our product or service. The opportunity to speak to the key decision-makers in a big corporation and make an impact on their business is a valuable experience to any fresh graduates. At Meltwater, we hire people based on their potential and entrepreneurial personality. Your age and experience level are not the main criteria when it comes to hiring. The Digital Economy is popular and flourishing in China, so I believe that taking up this job would expose me to a plethora of opportunities whilst the company grows with me.
Q: Before joining the Client Success team, you were part of the Client Acquisition team for over a year. Can you tell us more about your work on the CA team and why you transitioned to the Account Manager role on the CS team?
When I first joined the Client Acquisition team, I was given a month to ramp up before being assigned to hit the full sales quota. My manager trained me to prospect clients, qualify the leads, make trial calls, present demos, negotiate and wrap up the sales processes. It was the sales experience and multi-process ran to bring in clients one after the other that provided me with the knowledge and know-how that could make selling fun and effective when done right, also the constructive feedback I got from the manager (although tough at times) directly pushed me to improve quickly and achieve greater results. After I spent 1 year in the Client Acquisition team, I realised there is this bit in me about long-term motivation, or sense of satisfaction that could not be very well fulfilled over the acquisition role. I knew it was something around having built that relationship and trust with the client, then I had to hand them off in the care of my Client Success counterparts. Whilst also baffled since I do enjoy the conversation and consultation piece during client conference calls. But all in all, I wasn’t too sure what kept me from further success.
My performance level dipped. It was a couple of my luck, and the nature where teams in the Hong Kong office kept close relationships which turned things around. My managers offered me the idea of switching roles. and did an internal referral. It was when the Client Success Team needed a Mandarin-speaking account manager who could take care of the clients in both Hong Kong and Taiwan. It was the best of both worlds where I get to experience a prolonged relationship with clients, whilst keeping the sales consultant piece.
At Meltwater, the management has a thorough understanding of everyone and are keen on helping each employee to unleash their full potential. I am still thankful to this day to have made that job change that allows me to take up new challenges, utilize my strengths and fulfill my passion for establishing and nurturing client relationships.
The management has a thorough understanding of everyone and are keen on helping each employee to unleash their full potential.
To ensure that I had a smooth transition to the new role, my Managing Director was both a mentor and coach. She provided me with comprehensive insights into the position and training. She was also there to help alongside the clear and well laid out expectations on the targets I needed to achieve. As my new role responsibilities would be to ensure product adoption, retention, and expansion for my assigned Meltwater clients, I would need to have a more solid understanding of clients needs during the client life cycle and how each product can help clients to achieve different goals. So my manager provided me with deep dive training into each product and service, that way I could engage with different product users, ensure that their Meltwater experience is optimised and better accommodate to their changing needs.
For me to constantly perform at the highest level, I found that it is important for me to assess my strengths and weaknesses and analyze how to use my strengths and improve my weaknesses in my day-to-day life, that better enable me to succeed and continue cultivating those strengths. After 1 year of work as a Sales Consultant, I noticed that prioritising tasks is one of my greatest weaknesses as it is challenging for me to manage multiple clients at the same time. I proactively sought help from the colleagues that might have gone through the similar problems as I did, they are always willing to give me constructive advice that enables me to overcome the obstacles. Everyone in the office was very supportive and helpful in improving my weaknesses and they offered me practical suggestions to assist in the transition from Sales Consultant to Account Manager.
Everyone in the office was very supportive and helpful in improving my weaknesses and they offered me practical suggestions.
Q: After 2.5 years as Account Manager, you’ve been promoted to Client Success Manager. What enables you to excel in your role consistently and earn this promotion? What are the major differences between Account Manager and Client Success Manager roles in terms of the job duties and challenges?
The major duty of an Account Manager is to nurture and expand key relationships for my portfolio as well as grow it through identifying and pursuing cross-sell & up-sell opportunities. One of the key KPI is to grow the portfolio by 10% each year.
While as a Client Success Manager, I am responsible for two main areas. Firstly, I manage the entire team’s knowledge of potential-growth and pitfalls of the pipe. By understanding each client inside out and the values for them to use us, I need to adapt and create structured approaches and frameworks tailored to the clients’ needs. It is important to create plans on when to catch up with them each month, ensure that they are satisfied and engaged with our products and services in the long-run. Secondly, I coach and train the junior account managers on the team. Everyone is different and special, it is important for me to figure out what makes them tick and align their personal and professional goals with their role. I also spent quite a lot of time training them on different approaches to address clients’ needs and convey the situation in a clear manner.
To balance off my own work and the team management, I always set clear goals and priorities with the team before the start of the day, week and month. With newly minted account managers on board, we would regroup at the end of each working day, we would discuss the top priorities to work on for the next day. With the constant communication happening regarding the team priorities between them and me, we are able to identify which area we do well and ensure everyone is on the right track.
Q: Can you walk us through your daily routine in your current role? What is your favourite part of your job?
Catching up with the team about most important client cases of the month.
9-10 AM and 2-3 PM
I always eat the frogs first by doing the most difficult thing in the first hour and reaching out to clients before they come to us.
10-11 AM and 3-4 PM
Dealing with critical tasks of the day
Coordinate with the support team on the Client Support task. Liaise with report team to clarify requirement of client requests and other contractual things.
11-12 PM and 4-6 PM
Conducting Executive Business Review with the decision marker for subscribing to our licence to ensure that we’re still strategically aligned and that we constantly update clients with insights on new products and solutions.
My other regular routine:
Learning & Development hour
Meltwater Academy for us to check our industry and product knowledge so that we can upskill ourselves.
Every Two Weeks
Talk about people and what the high potential leaders are, the standards in office, and the betterment of the client experience that we are upholding ourselves to.
Office reflection session
Reflect on the wishlist of individuals and evaluate on what was done well.
Team bonding activity
Hiking, rock climbing, bouldering, or playing card games.
Keep track of every team member’s aspiration and provide mutual feedback.
Knowledge sharing session
Everyone has their own pipe so we share cases with the team when there is something to learn, share resources that are beneficial for all.
The favourite part of my job is being needed by clients - being the first point of contact for clients whenever they come across any problems, especially if there is a PR crisis that needs to be addressed immediately, or when they asked for my opinion on how best to approach their campaign performance report metrics. By providing a consistent and reliable experience for my clients, I can cultivate and preserve the trust while providing actual values to them. To me, an account manager at Meltwater is a consultative partner for PR and marketing leaders and executives that connect and build long lasting relationships with clients across industries. It is a meaningful job that aligns with my aspirations and ambitions in life.
Q: In what ways do you think Client Success is unique at Meltwater? What do you think makes it fundamental to Meltwater’s core business?
Meltwater provides a variety of social listening and media monitoring tools to clients, while an Account Manager acts as the trusted advisor to consult them on how to meet their business objectives and guide them through their business decisions with our tools. I believe that this is what makes Client Success unique.
After the client signs a contract with us, the decision maker and the users are invited to join the onboarding session for understanding our service scope, aligning the goals and expectations and learning how to use our products. We follow up with the clients when it comes to 90 days and 6 months of their journey to make sure that their expectations are well-aligned. We also update our clients on new products launched and new product features that they would benefit from using it. I feel like our role actually resembles the brand ambassador of Meltwater as we add value to the client experience along the way and strengthen their trust in Meltwater.
Apart from tailoring solutions to clients’ business problems, we also provide novel insights that help our clients to make better decisions. Our clients from various industries and of all different sizes, small and big companies, government institutions, it is important we are equipped with business knowledge and sound understanding of market landscapes so that we can truly speak to our clients’ problems. For instance, we have to step into PR, social and digital realms so that we can offer ideas on the tactics to manage public relations, identify the potential social impacts of a press release, evaluate the performances of brand messages and the effectiveness of KOL programs in targeting the right audience etc. A broad exposure to business knowledge is essential for doing our job great!
I feel like our role actually resembles the brand ambassador of Meltwater as we add value to the client experience along the way and strengthen their trust in Meltwater.
Q: How has your perception of account management changed throughout your journey at Meltwater?
In the beginning, I thought account management only provided basic services and support to all customers using a product. I soon then realised that it is a highly consultative role and an evangelist for Meltwater brand that we take the helm of clarifying and analyzing clients’ problems and demands, translating them into meltwater media intelligence solutions to build and maintain strong client relationships.
Be able to do our work very well, it is important to actively improve our industry and business knowledge through asking good questions to clients, deck research and taking online courses. For example, the insight requested by retail client is hugely different from banking client, we have to learn about how their marketing channels work so that we can teach them how to use Meltwater in identifying their vertical media outlets, benchmarking their competitive landscape and keeping their manufacturers informed with the newsletters that compile insights from Meltwater tools. That way, we can support our clients with more effective and comprehensive solutions.
Q: What advice do you have for young talents that are interested in pursuing a career in the Account Manager role at Client Success?
Meltwater is known for nurturing talents, we believe that high potential talent can be a successful manager as long as they are being given resources and guidance to learn and grow. Our well-established sales training program is shaped by the Meltwater people with a successful sales track record, you will learn the essential skills every solution sales rep needs to succeed. My advice to young talent is to possess an open mind and to believe in our rationale from the very beginning of your journey. From the first day you work here, the management will be giving you direct and solid feedback on your performance to push for your quick improvement and development. It is not a thing for everyone and, normally, you find the strong feedback culture quite tough. Just remember that the people around you have been through the same as you do and are keen to pave the way to success for you. If you can take the feedback you receive by heart and strive to become a better version of yourself, your path to success will be much easier and more attainable.
Meltwater has a flat organizational structure that encourages people to learn things from people across levels and teams.
For me, I learn how to manage the enterprise clients from the Client Success Enterprise Manager, while the Sales Consultant shares insights into why clients are interested in Meltwater solutions.This kind of organizational culture helps me to understand how our business helps different clients to solve their problems from various perspectives.
Having an active mind and a strong desire to learn different business knowledge and trends is critical to your success at the Client Success Team. Being able to know the latest market trends, we are able to provide the right solutions and target the clients and sectors we should tap into as we are expanding our clients base.
Also, you should uphold a solution-oriented mindset because our fundamental job is to solve clients problems using insights.
If you can take the feedback you receive by heart and strive to become a better version of yourself, your path to success will be much easier and more attainable.
"By providing a consistent and reliable experience for my clients, I can cultivate and preserve the trust while providing actual values to them. "
Client Success Manager, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan
We make the impossible possible by offering creative solutions and building relationships with clients through our “outside insight” mentality.
First and foremost, I believe that my passion to help people makes me a good fit for a sales position at Meltwater. I genuinely care for my clients and want to make their lives easier. As a result, I find that this allows me to provide the best value to clients and to perform well on a regular basis. Next, my desire to be a well-rounded individual makes me a good fit. I know that there is always room for improvement in many aspects. By aiming to improve in the area I’m lacking in, my overall performance only improves.
Lastly, I am strategic and constantly reflecting on my performance. By engaging in self-reflection, I feel that I am able to pinpoint my strengths and weaknesses and enhance how I perform in this role.
I think it’s important to keep in mind that there’s no specific academic background required to pursue a career in sales. Instead, the soft skills you possess is what’s important. For example, grit is fundamental to being successful in sales. There are a lot of challenges and rejections so it’s important to maintain a persistent mentality and come back stronger each time. Additionally, it’s crucial to mentally prepare yourself. Sales is challenging. It requires time and patience to learn the essence of sales and truly get a hang of it. Without this mental preparation, the challenges and obstacles you face will only get 10x larger.
Q: What challenges have you faced so far? Do you think they have contributed to your professional and personal development?
Q: Can you tell us about the biggest challenge you’ve faced? Do you think it has contributed to your professional and personal development?
The biggest challenge that I have ever faced is failing to hit targets for 4-5 months in a row when I first started in the CS team. As an account manager, we drive direct impact on our business by helping our clients transform how they work with Meltwater, thus increasing Meltwater renewal and expansion rates. Our performance is being measured by various KPIs, including Net Churn target, Gross Churn target, Bookings target, Engagement target, Ledgers target, Billings target and Team target. In those months, I failed to hit most of the KPIs because I couldn’t effectively manage the requests from various clients and failed to proactively offer my clients new insights and expand the existing pipeline. Even though the time was hard, I had the determination to overcome the challenges, prove myself and be somebody better. So I proactively asked the top performers in the CS team across regions for advice and guidance on how to achieve and exceed different KPIs . Their support helped me to overcome my feelings of self-doubt and boosted my confidence before I was able to start hitting targets again.
Another challenge I have ever faced is about misaligning client expectations with goals. One of my China clients expects our product to not just generate media data from a variety of channels, but provide analysed and synthesised insights which is not part of its functions. And the client expects to start using the platform right away on the day the contract is signed, which is not aligned with our client onboarding strategy. It is important that the clients are clear about the business value proposition and are properly trained to use the platform before they start to extract the insights by themselves. As the sales consultant originally in charge of the client has left, I had to deal with the problems on my own and reset the expectation. To come to grips with the situation, I learned the best practices from people who have faced similar challenges, then I listed out the problems my client is facing and planned the solutions. Eventually, the client renewed the contract with us because I created a new solution with a different scope of products and services that better meet the client's expectations.
I felt that in that case, or any other similar situation, being empathetic to clients’ needs is the key to overcoming the challenge. Even if our clients are demanding and difficult to us, I learned to understand the reasons behind clients’ requests and try my best to accommodate..
Q: How has your Sales and Account Management position changed your awareness and interest in big data and media monitoring? What are your thoughts on the future of the media intelligence industry?
Nowadays, people and businesses are becoming more and more data-driven. Not only do they make decisions based on data and evidence, but they also get more quantitative in their business measurements and investments. As this trend evolves, I believe that the accessibility of data will play a more and more important role in the business world. By extracting insights from more precise and transparent data, companies can better connect the dots and utilise the insights to enhance business performance. That’s why, as the leader in the field, I believe that Meltwater is taking a pioneering step to pull people into the avenue of data analytics in the era of AI and technology.
As the leader in the field, I believe that Meltwater is taking a pioneering step to pull people into the avenue of data analytics in the era of AI and technology.