Account Manager: Understanding the job
- What is an account manager?
- Top skills
- What account managers do
- What great account managers do
- Basic duties
- Typical day
ACCOUNT MANAGER FAST STATS
(comm., PR, marketing preferred)
5+ yrs (sales)
1+ yrs (account mgmt.)
Account Manager: understanding the job
What is an account manager?
An account manager is the connecting agent a company provides for its clients. They make sure that the goods or services clients are paying for are working well and meeting their needs.
The account manager job description has some similarities to that of a sales representative. The main difference is that a sales representative draws in potential clients and converts them into customers while it’s the account manager’s job to nurture those customers once they have been acquired. As a client’s needs change, an account manager listens and helps to pair them with a new or reshaped product or service, just the right one to meet their evolving needs. Similarly, if a company has developed a new product or service, it’s part of the account manager job description to upsell it to the right clients. So, while sales representatives and account managers both acquire new business by selling products and services to clients, the account manager alone is responsible for keeping clients satisfied and therefore continuously buying from the company in the long term.
Here are some mainly soft skills that account managers use on a daily basis to interact with clients and manage their accounts.
| communication | problem solving | interpersonal skills | customer prospecting and conversion | initiative | organization and planning |
Top account manager skills
What account managers do
Account management is about building relationships with clients. Their job is to retain new clients and convert repeat clients into steady long-term clients. To get that done account managers build networks of clients and their associates. They pay attention to clients’ customer behavior. They monitor client purchasing patterns and each client’s individual business needs in real time. That involves keeping tabs not only on clients but also on the organizations they represent, including their sales, service or production patterns. Additionally, the account manager job description extends to anticipating upcoming client needs that the account manager’s company can meet with their products or services.
The main avenue to accomplishing all of these goals is communication. Account management takes a ton of communication. They communicate constantly with clients to strengthen their relationships and service client needs. They communicate with marketing, creative and production teams frequently to understand the products or services they are selling and synchronize their sales approach with marketing campaigns and goals. And finally they communicate with management and executives to present periodic sales reports, talk about customer trends and receive new sales targets and goals as well as information about new products or services.
Ultimately, account management is about doing your research and networking to stay in the know about the industries and clients you service. Knowing what clients do, understanding their challenges and goals, and anticipating their needs allows an account manager to identify the right products and services to provide immediate and long term value for their clients.
What great account managers do
1. Great account managers prioritize valuable customers.
Certain clients at certain times are in a position to be the best customers for an account manager’s company. Identifying clients with the potential to provide the most revenue to the company and putting them at the top of the list of people to contact is a great account manager’s specialty.
'' Great account managers are very aware of their competition and work constantly to both satisfy clients and make clients feel like they are looking out for them, almost like family. ''
2. Great account managers identify with clients.
It’s easy for a sales-oriented employee to think of selling products, meeting quotas and creating revenue for their company. It’s harder to assume the buyer’s perspective first before pitching a sale. This is exactly what great account managers do; they identify with their client’s needs and position before considering a new sale. Though it is in the company’s best interest, it may not be in the client’s best interest to make a purchase at a particular point in time, or at all. Great account managers consult with their clients thus supplementing the product or service the client has already purchased and developing a longer term relationship built on trust and mutual benefit.
3. Great account managers outshine competitors.
Clients have options. They are hunted by a field of sales representatives from an array of different companies, all looking to snag a new sale and create a long-term customer. Great account managers are very aware of their competition and work constantly to both satisfy clients and make clients feel like they are looking out for them, almost like family.
Typical day as an account manager
Account manager jobs are present in many industries and vary somewhat accordingly in focus. For example an account manager in an advertising firm may have to focus a lot of attention on working with the creative marketing and communications teams in order to properly consult with clients and service their accounts. An account manager working in a media outlet for example may spend more time doing market research on their consumers in order to advise clients using them as an advertising platform about how to reach their target markets. No matter the industry, account manager jobs share very similar responsibilities that make their days look relatively similar.
Perhaps an account manager begins the day by reviewing recent client purchase volume and previous contacts to prioritize which clients to contact that morning. When contacting clients the account manager may find that they need to do a lot more listening to changing client needs than pitching sales ideas to them or planning for future sales and invoicing. A particular client may need to be prioritized in order to fend off competing companies who are trying to poach them. The account manager then needs to consult with managers or executives to approve offering promotional or loyalty discounts to retain the client.
In meeting with managers and executives, the account manager is reminded that quarterly sales reports and forecast sales, revenue and account reports for the following quarter will occur later that afternoon. So the account manager spends time finalizing spreadsheets and revenue and account visualizations for presentation, sets up presentation materials and tech-tools in the conference room and delivers a presentation that convinces executives and management of the value they bring to clients and growing revenue they bring to the company.
'' ...account managers are always finding new avenues to bring value to clients ''
Some account manager jobs include using their network and research on existing clients to help prospect for new clients as well. Some others still require account managers to manage and lead a team of other account managers while managing key accounts of their own. This position is typically called a key account manager. A key account manager may also be responsible for monitoring departmental budgets, training other employees in account management, and helping the sales department meet monthly sales quotas.
All account managers face a socially interactive day filled with interfacing with people inside and outside of the company, building and strengthening relationships with them, and finding new avenues to bring value to clients and therefore to the company.
Account manager basic duties
- Lead account management initiatives for all customer accounts in your portfolio
- Monitor purchase activity within client accounts and analyze it to prioritize high value clients
- Build long-term relationships with existing clients and network of potential clients extending from them
- Identify client needs and consult with clients about solutions involving new sales or just advice and assistance
- Deliver products or services to clients on time and follow up to ensure product or service meets quality standards
- Meet periodic sales quotas by delivering new sales or upsells to existing clients
- Prepare and present sales reports and forecasts as well as key account profiles for executives and management
- Be a creative problem solver for clients using company resources and professional networks
- Negotiate and close contracts to both retain customers and maximize profit margins for the company
- Assist sales representatives in meeting their sales quotas by identifying prospects through client relationships and networks
Becoming an account manager
Account manager job requirements
A bachelor’s degree in public relations, communications, marketing, business administration or a related field is preferred.
Certification is not required for consideration to be hired for an account manager position.
Five or more years in sales is a good start for consideration for an account manager position. Part of that sales experience may come from a sales internship or some type of formal sales training. One year or more of experience as an account manager gives you leverage to apply for a wide range of account manager positions.
Account manager skills are largely soft skills with some technical necessities around spreadsheet, sales and presentation software. Some skills include Microsoft Excel , Salesforce , Microsoft Office , communication , problem solving , interpersonal skills , customer prospecting and conversion , initiative , and organization and planning .
Ideal account manager resume
The ideal account manager resume lists at least five years experience in sales and/or 2+ years as an account manager in a related industry to that of the advertised position. It also lists a bachelor’s degree in communications, marketing or public relations with some formal sales training . An account manager resume that draws attention and leads to an interview should always be supplemented by anecdotal experiences of building relationships with clients and developing a useful network of clients and their connections in the industry.
'' ...account manager salaries very often get a bump from commission on upsells and performance bonuses ''
Account managers with 5+ years experience as an account manager on their resume have the possibility of seeking a key account manager position that takes a more leadership and managerial role over other account managers on top of expectations to manage the accounts of the highest value clients in a company’s portfolio.
Account manager salary
The average account manager salary as a mean of the average account manager salaries found by the thousands of account manager job postings on glassdoor.com, ziprecruiter.com and indeed.com comes to $59,958 per year as of Nov. 2018. Account manager salary very often gets a bump from commission on new sales and upsells as well as performance bonuses for meeting or exceeding sales quotas. Depending on the industry and company, net annual income for account managers can reach or exceed $100,000 per year whereas entry- or junior-level account manager jobs can begin with salaries as low as $40,000 - $45,000 per year.
Is account management the right job for me?
Perhaps the most important thing to consider when thinking of becoming an account manager is whether or not you’re a people person. Account managers are not just interacting with clients from a sales psychology perspective, trying to identify and capitalize on their needs. The job requires building long-term trust with clients. That means being inquisitive, friendly, a good listener and generally interested in their professional well-being.
That type of relationship building, though based around sales and customer satisfaction, moves far beyond mere transaction. Account managers invite clients to become a part of the family of people that use their products or services. They want them to feel taken care of like they are part of their company’s family, not just customers.
'' A passion for building networks and relationships can fuel a successful career in account management... ''
If you are pursuing or have pursued a degree in communications, public relations, marketing or advertising and you have an interest in sales or training in sales, account manager may be a good fit for you. It may be a good fit even if you have other educational experiences or training. A passion for building networks and relationships can fuel a successful career in account management and turn clients into long-term customers.
Top account manager skills
Excel , Salesforce , Microsoft Office - placing account information and sales figures into spreadsheets and presentation platforms; using sales management software for organization and internal transparency
Communication - continuous availability for in-person, phone and video interfacing with clients; visual oral and written presentation of sales figures and projections and other account information to executives; meeting with internal teams to synchronize R&D, marketing and sales efforts; reaching out to potential customers in various industries to expand professional network as tool for client solutions and source of new clientele
Problem solving - using professional network to find creative solutions for evolving client needs; harvesting markets for newly released products or services
Interpersonal skills - developing relationships with internal teams to maximize sales efficiency and profitability; pitching sales forecasts and strategies to executives and management; building relationships of trust with existing clients and helping them find solutions for their professional needs and targets
Customer prospecting and conversion - researching existing clients’ purchase patterns and industry market trends to predict client need and prioritize high-value clients; prospect new clients or clients open to new product sales or upsells; find existing clients whose needs require an upsell or a new product or service purchase and negotiate new contracts with long-term customer retention and maximized profitability
Initiative - self-start efforts to develop new clientele and push new products into emerging client markets
Organization and planning - manage client and executive needs; juggling proposals and pitches, client meetings, report preparation and analysis, and communicating with internal teams
Similar or related job titles
- Sales coordinator
- Account executive
- Sales manager
- Client relations manager
- Business development manager
- Account supervisor