Learn About Being an Account Manager
Updated June 24, 2022
What does an account manager do?
An account manager’s primary responsibility is to provide a link between an organization’s staff and its customers. They also act as the main point of contact for all customer inquiries regarding the accounts for which they are responsible. Other tasks an account manager may perform include:
Creating and maintaining long-term customer relationships
Overseeing and participating in negotiations or contract discussions
Ensuring all customers’ needs are taken care of as agreed and on time
Regularly communicating with the company’s upper management, updating them on all customer-related matters
Presenting progress reports to both clients and top management
Meeting sales targets by developing new business with either existing or new clients
Working with the sales team to identify new business opportunities within the allocated area
Attending internal meetings regarding the company’s or client’s progress and development
Most account managers work in full-time positions, although some work either part time or as contract-based employees. Salaries for account managers depend on several factors, such as the level of education, previous experience, company size, client base and geographical location. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.
Common salary in the U.S.: $74,555 per year
Some salaries range from $14,000 to $147,000 per year.
Account manager requirements
A successful account manager requires a combination of education, training and advanced skills to help them excel in this position.
Account managers typically need a bachelor’s degree in business administration, sales or another relevant field. To secure an advanced position and increase their earning potential, many account managers also choose to earn a master’s degree, usually in business or marketing. Some companies may see a master’s degree as a substitute for experience requirements.
Many companies prefer candidates with some experience in lower-level sales or marketing roles. Previous jobs or internships that involve direct customer interaction can prepare a candidate for a successful career as an account manager. Aside from a bachelor’s degree and relevant work experience, an account manager may require specific training in the industry or department in which their company operates, as well as the software they use.
On-the-job training opportunities are frequent for similar lower-level roles, such as assistant account manager or junior account executive. They train future account managers in the most critical job aspects, like making sure existing customers are satisfied and finding new clients.
Certifications enable professionals to prove their qualifications to current and future employers. Account managers can earn certifications to get more theoretical insight into the main elements of account management, as well as to improve their business skills. Certifications can advance an account manager’s career by enabling them to be trusted with key accounts.
The Strategic Account Management Association offers training for anyone looking to improve and certify their account management skills. Their Certified Strategic Account Manager program ensures the graduate has the hard and soft skills for a successful career as an account manager in any industry they choose. The program is only available to those already employed as account managers and can be the next step in an account manager’s development.
A successful account manager needs a combination of effective communication skills and well-rounded knowledge of the company’s products or services. The most important hard and soft skills are:
Having strong interpersonal skills is a vital part of being an account manager. As the link between the company and its customers, the account manager frequently interacts with both sides to make sure their needs are met and opinions are heard. These professionals need to be proficient in communicating through all available channels: in person, via email and over the phone.
Excellent understanding of the organization
Account managers are often the main representatives of the company’s image in the eyes of their customers and need to be knowledgeable in any company-related aspect. Aside from a strong knowledge of the organization’s products or services, the account manager is aware of department operations and what the company’s overall short- and long-term strategies are.
Customer service skills
An account manager must understand what the clients want and expect from the company. Knowing their needs is crucial to having satisfied customers, and it also helps the account manager generate new business from existing customers.
Strategic thinking skills
An account manager strategically develops long-term relationships with clients. While sales professionals typically focus on closing specific deals, account managers need to understand the company’s future goals and figure out ways to develop continuous partnerships.
An account manager uses leadership skills to pitch and implement their ideas successfully. They should be confident to ensure both customers and management embrace their strategies.
These professionals need to have strong negotiating skills to satisfy both their company and customers. They try to create win-win situations and make business relationships mutually beneficial.
Basic technology skill
Keeping track of all assigned accounts and their history requires some basic computer skills. This typically implies a good knowledge of the company’s customer relationship management software, as well as the word processing and spreadsheet software.
An account manager typically works on multiple accounts simultaneously. They need to be able to selectively focus on key aspects of each account while maintaining a high attention to detail.
Account manager work environment
Companies in a variety of industries employ account managers, and the work environment can vary according to each organization’s specific traits. Most account managers work full-timed salaried positions and perform the majority of their duties in an office setting. Individuals pursuing a career in account management may alternate between desk work and visits to customers in addition to attending various networking events to find new business opportunities.
How to become an account manager
You can follow these steps to become an account manager:
1. Earn a bachelor’s degree.
Typically the most valuable degree for an aspiring account manager is a bachelor’s in business administration. A degree in sales or marketing is also beneficial, as well as industry-specific degrees, such as finance or public relations.
2. Gain relevant, hands-on experience.
The primary skills required for a successful account manager, such as communication or managing multiple accounts at once, can be gained through an internship or entry-level position. Entry-level positions can include assistant account manager or junior account executive, as well as other sales or marketing roles.
3. Apply for account manager positions.
Once you have completed a bachelor’s degree and gained relevant work experience, you can start applying for jobs as an account manager. Alternatively, you may be able to obtain a promotion at your current company following an internship or a few years in an entry-level position. Prepare a resume that highlights your education, relevant experience and skills to secure an interview.
4. Consider pursuing a master’s degree.
If you want to expand your role and potentially become a key account manager, earn a master’s degree in business administration or another related field. A master’s degree may also be a successful alternative to on-the-job experience for some companies.
Account manager job description example
Our telecommunications company is looking for an experienced account manager to take over a part of our customer account management responsibilities. The successful applicant will focus on maximizing the revenue streams from the existing customer base, as well as proactively seeking new customers and business opportunities. As an account manager, you will be directly responsible for meeting monthly and quarterly targets while maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction. You will be reporting to the account management supervisor and should meet the following requirements:
Bachelor’s degree in business administration or related field
Three years of experience in sales, account management or other roles that require direct customer interaction
Excellent communication and multitasking skills
Experience with CRM software and spreadsheet organization
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