Prospect meetings, contract analysis and board reports: a week in the life of Ciphr’s partner manager, Megan Hope

Prospect meetings, contract analysis and board reports: a week in the life of Ciphr’s partner manager, Megan Hope

Ciphr partner manager Megan Hope takes us through a typical working week in her shoes. Here’s how it looks

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A working week at Ciphr is different for all of our employees. For Megan Hope – who has been part of the Ciphr team for the past three years as a partner manager – each day brings exciting challenges. Here she takes us through her week at work

Day one

I’m in the office in Marlow and start the day on a scheduled call with a payroll provider who we’ve been working with for a while to create an integrated solution for several of our joint customers. We’ve started discussions about upgrading the integration from a flat file CSV transfer to be via an application programming interface (API) instead to make the data transfer more robust, secure and quicker. But I’d been struggling to get hold of them recently; they knew that we’d acquired PBS, our long-term payroll partner, in December 2019, and wanted to find out about what our approach to other payroll providers is now and in the future. I explain that while the acquisition is an important step for Ciphr, we remain fully committed to working with our Ciphr Connect partners and to the best-of-breed approach. The payroll provider is really happy to hear this and we arrange to meet face to face and pick things up again.

I have to submit a partners section to the board pack each month, which seems to come around more quickly every single month! I pull off various reports from CRM and PowerBI, which track metrics like inbound and outbound referrals; revenue generated by partners; new partner product sales; any new referral, white-label or reseller agreements signed, and any other notable data. It’s a good chance to reflect on the previous month’s achievements, as well as plan to ensure we hit the targets and metrics for this month.

I have an online catch-up meeting with my technical colleague Simon who lives down in Kent. We update each other on projects and contracts we’re working on and help each other progress in areas where we’ve got stuck or need support and advice. Simon is head of technical integrations and connectivity, he looks after the technical and development aspects of our partner relationships, while I handle the commercial side and everything else.

Day two

I’m joining my colleague Alice Collier for a new business meeting in London today. I don’t usually mind travelling to London as the train journey is about an hour, which takes just as long as my commute to Marlow. However, today is an exception because there’s not a single seat on the train when I get on – meaning I have to stand all the way to Marylebone. Because I can’t get my laptop out when standing up, my only option is to deal with some emails on my phone and read posts on our internal comms tools, Yammer and Totem, to catch up on good news stories, kudos points and photos, and then I read my news apps and Twitter. I have a 20-minute tube journey once I get to Marylebone, which is also crowded so I’m really glad to see some daylight when I arrive in Holborn! Alice has organised for us to meet in a Pret a Manger before the meeting – luckily she put the address in the meeting invite, as I nearly stop and wait for Alice at the two other Prets I walk past in the four-minute walk from the station.

Alice works in the field sales team and re-joined Ciphr about a year ago. She had previously worked at Ciphr seven years ago, before leaving to go to work in HR and recruitment roles, so she has lots of market knowledge and experience. I’ve joined Alice today to support her demo to a prospect, specifically around integrations and L&D. We meet for about 20 minutes to plan what we’ll say in the meeting before heading to the prospective customer’s offices. The HR director is 10 minutes late but says she will give us the 10 minutes back as she’d already cut our time short anyway so we get started. The prospect says they’d heard of us because they’d seen our advert each month on the back of People Management magazine, as well as being recommended through a CIPD forum, which is all really positive. Alice leads the meeting and does a great job of presenting Ciphr and our solutions, and we talk about our partners and our best-of-breed approach. One of our slides has partner logos from systems we integrate with, one of which is the prospect’s existing ATS supplier so the conversation around best of breed goes really well; the HR team is excited that they are free to select suppliers that best fit their requirements. We do a demo of Ciphr and Ciphr Learning, our LMS, which they seem to like and then we have time for some questions and address the next steps. We’re told we should hear back early next week so fingers crossed. I go back to the tube station and then get the train home again. It’s much quieter so I manage to get a seat and a plug to charge my laptop, which feels luxurious after this morning’s journey. I have a lot of emails to catch up on from colleagues, partners and customers, so use the journey and rest of the day to respond to emails.

Day three

Back in the office today and I see an interesting  article while browsing LinkedIn about social responsibility, stating that both consumers and employees want to see more ethically conscious organisations. The article lists some really interesting and relevant statistics, so I post a link to it in our CSR Microsoft Teams group for other people to view. The Ciphr CSR group is still fairly new so we’re all trying to share as many ideas and information with each other as possible.

A colleague in marketing puts together a monthly Ciphr Connect update to communicate to the rest of the business how are partner relationships are progressing. I help by providing the information, news and stats to include in this month’s update, a lot of which is easy to do as I’ve already collated and analysed it for the board pack. The infographic looks great and helps to communicate all the work we’re doing. It’s visible on Yammer, Totem and our internal communications TV screens around the offices.

Ciphr colleagues Jade and Megan A day in the Ciphr office with my colleague and sales operation executive, Jade Trickett

I get a LinkedIn connection request from someone I met at the prospect meeting on Tuesday. I send her a message thanking her for her time and that I hope she found the session useful. I know she’s on a fixed-term post at the moment and that she’s based near our office in Marlow, so I also say that we are always looking for great people to join our team and include a link to our current vacancies! She says she thought the demo was great and that she is looking for her next role and is happy to consider Ciphr – win win!

Lunchtime: when I’m in the office I usually go for a walk around Marlow with some colleagues. It’s a really nice town so we do a lap of the park and walk along the River Thames and then come back to the office to eat our lunch.

We’re a growing company and have lots of new starters, which is great. As part of everybody’s induction, they have sessions with directors and managers of the different areas of the business. I run a session on Ciphr Connect and our partners, focusing on giving people a solid grounding of why our relationships with partners are so important and valuable to us, and how these relationships are going to grow in the future. I run a session today with six new starters – all of whom are doing completely different roles – and it’s great to meet them all. Everyone understands Ciphr Connect and the partner proposition and can see why it’s so valuable to us, so it’s a really positive 45 minutes. I leave the meeting feeling just as invigorated and excited as the new starters!

Day four

We have recently partnered with a leading provider of employment screen checks and we have a reseller training day at our offices today. It was a fairly lengthy contractual and feasibility sign-off process so I’m really excited that we’re now in the more practical stages of using the product and building the integration, because it brings us another step closer to bringing the integrated solution to market. As the training session lasts for the majority of the morning, I catch up on emails and raise a couple of purchase orders straight after lunch.

We have been looking to sign up to a job board integration platform that puts some particular legal and functionality requirements onto us and onto our customers. The partner has recently updated their contract, so I have to compare and contrast it to previous versions and highlight any potential areas for discussion and negotiation to our COO. I also have to analyse the contract to understand what processes or functionality, if any, need to be updated, changed or developed in our product. As we begin to do more complex integrations with larger, global partners, we have to have total clarity on what we’re signing up to and a large part of that is for me to build the business case that the time and resources spent on development and marketing will provide value to Ciphr and our customers. I work with my technical colleague Nathan on data analysis of the live SaaS environment to understand customer usage of our applicant tracking system, Ciphr iRecruit, to build a business case for pursuing with the job board contract and integration.

Day five

Ciphr embraces flexible and remote working, which is a huge benefit for me as the M40 commute five days a week is exhausting. We have Skype, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, calls and emails so connecting with colleagues is no issue and people tend to respect your space if your status is set to ‘busy’ or ‘do not disturb’. Working from home also gives me the chance to run with my dog during my lunch break.

Megan with her dog during a run

The morning starts with an online meeting where I give an overview and demo of Ciphr to a potential partner. These overview sessions are common and really useful to give the potential partner an understanding of how Ciphr looks and feels, the breadth of functionality, and to give them ideas of possible system integration areas, too. The session goes well and they are impressed with our system, marketing and best-of-breed approach. I send over our standard referral agreement and arrange access to our API test site for them to review.

A partner has forwarded on a tender bid to see if we would like to do a joint bid with them. We always welcome the opportunity to present with partners but after running the tender past my colleague Steve, we decide not to take part in this one because the requirements, timelines and budgets aren’t the right fit got us.

I have a call with a partner about our customer conference in April and we discuss some joint marketing campaigns and targeted approach to the event and follow-up activities afterwards. I often have these calls and then introduce partners to my Ciphr marketing colleagues to ensure activities and projects get planned in and executed.

This was a fairly typical week for me, although I do also visit customers and partners’ offices regularly (which I will be doing next week, for example). My week was varied and demanding but I enjoy the blend of technical, commercial, legal, and contractual specialties in my role, as well as the people side and interacting with Partners, customers, prospects and, of course, my colleagues.