What is an account manager?
An account manager is an entry- to mid-level employee who manages individual client accounts in a company. They focus on what the client needs and make recommendations accordingly. Often, a customer’s long-term relationship with a company depends on their relationship with the account manager.
Account managers are not to be confused with accountants. Accountants oversee, analyze, and advise businesses on their finances. Account managers are more relationship managers who act as a go-between with the client and the company.
Responsibilities and skills of an account manager
The most important responsibility of an account manager is to build and maintain strong relationships with customers. They are often the first point of contact for customers, and they play a critical role in ensuring that customers are happy with the company’s products and services.
Since the customer may have multiple needs– financial advice, customer service, technical support – the account manager also has to be versatile enough to meet these needs as the single point of contact.
Account management serves the purpose of retaining existing clients. It is more beneficial, and cheaper, for the company to keep existing clients than to invest time, money, and resources on getting a new one.
Account managers are also responsible for keeping a close eye on competitor products to ensure that the client remains satisfied with the company’s products and customer service so they won’t take their business elsewhere. If at a senior level, they are also responsible for training new employees in account management.
Account managers need to have great communication skills, thorough knowledge of the company’s services and products, and a good working relationship with departments or teams across the company. Account managers are generally good listeners, empathetic, versed negotiators, and problem-solvers since they have to communicate with both the client and company about any particular terms that need to be changed or costs that need to be negotiated according to the client’s budget.
Difference between sales and account management
Account managers are not salespeople. This means that they are more focused on fulfilling the client’s needs than selling the product. Usually, the account manager’s role begins after the product is sold to the customer. The simple difference is – salespersons bring in new clients, while account managers work to retain them.
Account managers usually have a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, public relations, communications, or another related field. They typically start off as entry-level employees in sales or customer service and then move to account management after gaining the relevant interpersonal skills and familiarity with the company’s product or service.
Account managers can advance to becoming certified through the Strategic Account Management Association. They can be promoted to handle more clients or the more important accounts in the business. Next, they can move on to becoming a senior account manager or senior account director supervising other account managers. After one of those roles, they’d likely have enough experience to manage the entire account management department of the company as director of account services.
Depending on the individual’s qualifications, experience, and skills, the entry-level salary can range anywhere from $58,000-$64,000 a year.