Account Manager Job Description - Skills, Duties and Career Path
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What Does an Account Manager Do?
Let's start with a quick definition:
An account manager is responsible for managing, developing and maintaining client relationships and for contributing to the growth of a company’s business.
Their main task is to manage the relationships between a company and its existing clients, for whom they act as a point of contact. Account managers cooperate closely with sales and marketing directors and industry managers, working to understand the client’s needs and to transform this understanding into new sales opportunities. Unlike sales agents, account managers are hired by the company they work for rather than being self-employed.
So, what does an Account Manager do, exactly?
Account managers look after an existing client portfolio, occupying a position that is halfway between sales and client support. They manage the relationship with a company’s clients (particularly its commercial aspects), provide support with any issues or needs the client may have and are responsible for ensuring client satisfaction and loyalty. The goal of an account manager is to increase sales to the accounts in their portfolio and to build the relationship between a business and its clients, but also to spot every potential new business development opportunity .
Account managers also develop sales plans and commercial strategies to encourage clients to purchase the company’s products and services and thus increase sales. To do so, they need to understand and be able to anticipate a client’s business needs and propose products, services and solutions that will satisfy them. Having day-to-day contact with businesses purchasing a company’s products and services makes account managers ideally placed to identify upselling and cross-selling opportunities and thus maximize profits.
To achieve these goals and reach their sales targets, a good account manager needs to possess a very strong knowledge of the market or sector in which the company and its clients operate. Another important skill is the ability to analyze a client’s business, its objectives and its organizational set-up to identify the key processes and decision-makers that influence its strategic choices.
Account managers are employed by all kinds of companies, including manufacturing businesses, consultancy firms, service providers and advertising and PR agencies.
Account managers are responsible for achieving sales and revenue targets, and are assigned key objectives relevant to their accounts, which are usually set by the sales director. This may be a source of considerable pressure, especially towards the end of the sales period (typically 3 months, also known as a quarter), and so resistance to stress is a key characteristic of an account manager, in addition to a talent for sales and organizational and communication skills.
Account Manager Duties, Responsibilities and Tasks
The main duties and primary responsibilities of an account manager include:
- Representing the company and acting as point of contact for clients
- Managing client relationships
- Interpreting a client’s requests and ensuring they are fulfilled
- Building long-terms relationships with clients and ensuring client loyalty
- Pitching new products or services to the client
- Measuring sales results and the attainment of company targets
- Preparing reports and other documentation on client status
- Looking for new business opportunities
- Sharing client feedback with the relevant team(s) within the company (production, marketing, administration)
How to Become an Account Manager: Education, Requirements and Qualifications
To become an account manager, you usually need to have studied Economics and Management, or alternatively Marketing, Communication and related fields. As this is a client-focused, client-facing role, communication and management skills and a talent for sales are essential, in addition to a knowledge of marketing and financial management strategies. Previous experience in sales is an advantage. Job vacancies for senior account managers require at least 5-7 years prior relevant experience, while Junior Account Manager positions are usually open to recent graduates too.
Account Manager Skills and Competencies
The main skills and competencies required to work as an account manager are:
- Communication skills
- Knowledge of marketing, management and sales techniques
- Organizational and relationship-building skills
- Ability to capitalize on client relationships
- Knowledge of client relationship management (CRM) applications
- Client-focused approach
- Goal-oriented attitude
- Analytical skills
- Resistance to stress
Account Manager Career Path
A career in account management usually begins with a junior account manager position, progressing, with experience and a record of good performance, into a senior account manager role. There are a number of different subsequent career options: one is looking after a company’s major clients as a key account manager, or else handling relations with overseas clients as an international account manager.
An alternative career path is to specialize in sales, as a sales manager, industry manager or industry head.
Top Reasons to Work as an Account Manager
So, why should you consider working as an Account Manager?
Account managers occupy a strategic role in a company because they are responsible for the growth and development of its business. This is a versatile role suitable for anybody who enjoys working in close contact with a wide range of people. Since the job requires being able to deal effectively and profitably with other people and form strong interpersonal relationships, this is an ideal choice for people with good organizational skills who excel at managing stressful situations.There are a large number of vacancies for account managers in a wide variety of sectors, as well as a range of different career opportunities.