Skills of an Account Manager: Examples and How To Improve
Updated March 27, 2023
An account manager is an employee who helps ensure clients are receiving adequate service during and after their purchase with a company. These employees also develop new business opportunities for a company and negotiate contracts with clients. Learning about the skills that an account manager uses can help you decide whether this career path is suitable for your interests and abilities.
In this article, we define the skills of an account manager, share examples of common skills these employees use and explain how to develop and highlight them during your job search.
What are the skills of an account manager?
Account manager skills are the natural and learned abilities that an account manager uses to succeed in their position. These employees use various hard and soft skills to complete their job duties and responsibilities, which may include:
Collaborating and communicating with customers daily to meet and understand their needs
Working closely with internal departments to ensure they're meeting clients' needs
Gathering and analyzing data to better understand the behavior of consumers
Addressing and resolving client complaints
Brainstorming and implementing strategies to prevent future problems
Motivating and leading account executives effectively
Related: Learn About Being an Account Manager
Examples of account manager skills
Here are some examples of skills that account managers use in their work:
Listening and interpersonal skills
An account manager's ability to listen to and empathize with clients can help them acquire and retain clients. These skills can also help them predict potential issues by identifying problem areas in the client's experience with the product or service. By resolving these issues early, they can maintain client satisfaction with the company's offerings. This can lead to a renewal or a referral from the client, which can increase revenue.
An account manager can also benefit from asking questions that encourage the client to communicate their needs. Once they acquire this information, an account manager can respond in a way that shows they truly understand what the client is saying.
Account managers are responsible for overseeing clients' accounts, so they can use their leadership skills to make recommendations and advise their clients. Their leadership skills can also help them identify sources of new clients and convince potential customers to hire the company for their needs.
For example, an account manager might research new regions for software sales and present an expansion plan at a team meeting. They might advocate for their plan and lead the initiative to expand the company's service area.
Written and verbal communication abilities
Depending on the product or service they sell, an account manager might communicate with their clients weekly or even daily, especially if the client is having issues or considering renewing their service. They might speak with the client over the phone, communicate via email, deliver presentations in meetings or speak to clients at their offices.
Some account managers use both written and spoken communication methods to speak with the same client, depending on the message they hope to send. Effective written and spoken communication is concise and informative, and an account manager can develop this skill through formal education or experience.
Account managers use their ability to connect with different personality types to create strong relationships with their clients. If a client feels their account manager cares about their experience with the company, they may be more likely to stay with their current service provider, renew their agreement or refer a colleague or friend to the company. To build strong relationships, an account manager might identify the client's personality and change their tone or conversation style to match the client.
When account managers work with clients on starting or renewing their contracts, they might use their negotiation skills to convince clients to purchase certain services the business offers. They might create an offer before meeting with the client and then adjust the offer in response to the client's requests or demands. By using their negotiation skills, the account manager can create a final agreement that balances the client's preferences with the company's need for profit.
Organization and task management
Account managers are responsible for organizing and managing multiple client accounts. They use their organization and task management skills to ensure that they spend enough time and energy connecting with each client. They also use these skills to meet all their deadlines and ensure they know what to anticipate with each client. Many account managers use task management software to organize their schedules, and some companies have specialized programs just for account managers that combine task management with sales tools.
Account managers exist in many industries, including software and manufacturing services. While many of an account manager's skills can transfer from one industry to another, successful account managers also have a deep understanding of the industry their company supports. Industry knowledge is important for account managers because it helps them understand their clients' businesses, the problems they encounter and how their products and services can solve those problems.
For example, an account manager at an HR software company might not be a programmer, but they might understand the basic concepts of programming, which allows them to create customized solutions for their clients. Usually, account managers gain their industry knowledge through experience, either in internships or paid positions.
How to improve your account manager skills
Here are some steps you can follow to improve your account manager skills:
1. Attend leadership workshops
Because account managers come from a wide range of professional backgrounds, they may not have had previous leadership experience before taking the position. An effective way to gain leadership skills is to attend workshops that teach you how to motivate, inspire and influence your customers. These programs might be in-person or online, and some companies offer free leadership seminars for all staff members.
2. Undergo industry training
Learning about the industry in which you work can help you connect with clients more easily and ensure that you provide good advice for them as they work with the company. You can gain technical knowledge through on-the-job training that leadership members within your place of employment deliver. You may also learn from other industry experts that have worked in the industry for many years. There are also ways to enhance your knowledge in the industry, like reading industry articles and attending conferences or seminars.
3. Earn professional certifications
Certifications are another way to improve your account management skills and can be a helpful addition to your resume, as they verify your skills in key areas. You may pursue specific certifications as they relate to account management, which can help you form stronger customer relationships, build customer strategies and increase your confidence as a leader. You may also get a certification in a skill that relates to the product or service your place of employment sells.
4. Take additional courses
An account manager may hold a bachelor's degree in business administration, marketing, sales or a related field. You have the opportunity to advance in your role if you improve your skill set by taking additional sales, business or marketing courses. Some account managers looking for career advancement opportunities may even earn a master's degree. This advanced credential can help them fulfill the evolving nature of their role, as it can help them acquire digital marketing expertise, financial acumen and other business-related skills.
Depending on the type of product you sell or the industry you support, you might also consider getting a degree in a field related to the industry. For example, an account manager for a transport company might take courses in logistics or supply chain management to gain more industry knowledge.
Account manager skills in the workplace
Here are some ways account managers use their skills in their daily work:
Building strong relationships with clients with their communication and interpersonal skills
Using their organization and time management skills to ensure every client gets the attention they need
Employing their listening skills to identify client issues and find potential solutions
Finding and enrolling new clients using their leadership, communication and sales skills
How to highlight your account manager skills
As you undergo the job search process, a hiring manager may expect you to communicate your account manager skills during different steps of the hiring process. Here are some different ways you can highlight your account manager skills:
Account manager skills for a resume
You can emphasize your skills by adding a separate skills section to your resume, where you list both soft and hard skills for your desired position. Review the job posting of the role you're applying for to see what the hiring manager listed as required or preferred skills. Highlight these keywords and mention them throughout your resume. You might customize this section for each job you apply to, depending on the job descriptions for each position.
Account manager skills for a cover letter
In your cover letter, you can describe how you used your skills to achieve your goals in previous positions. When possible, use concrete details to highlight the effect your skills had on your previous employers. For example, you might discuss how you used your communication and organizational skills to develop a new check-in process with your clients, increasing your retention rate by 30%. Concrete details like this can show the hiring manager the value you might bring to their organization.
Account manager skills for a job interview
During your interviews, find opportunities to show your skills and provide in-depth explanations and circumstances of when you directly applied these skills during your time in your previous roles. You can expand on the evidence you gave in your cover letter or use other examples as you answer interview questions.
While preparing for an interview, review the job description and highlight key skills that the hiring manager might ask you about during the interview. You can create a list of past experiences you've had that allowed you to build certain skills. Throughout your interview, you can focus on showing your verbal communication skills, strategic thinking skills and persuasion skills. Your behavior can show a hiring manager how you may act during client onboarding, which is a process that uses similar abilities to the ones you'd use during an interview.
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