Are you interested in pursuing a career that combines marketing, sales, and client management? If that sounds like you, a career in account management may be right for you! This field can be an exciting opportunity for marketers looking to gain hands-on experience managing a portfolio of clients.
Starting with the fundamentals, we’ll cover everything you need to know about account management. You’ll learn about the industry’s history, key components, and relevant terminology, as well as valuable tips and resources to help you find success as an account manager. Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
Account Management 101
In short, account management is the process of managing the needs of a client. An account manager’s core functions lie in nurturing and growing client relationships. Depending on their seniority, marketers in this field may also be responsible for overseeing a client’s entire post-sales operations, including producing proposals, project management, and facilitating all internal and external communications.
Client communications and management
Account managers operate as the primary point of contact between a client and a company. Meeting frequently to discuss operating, addressing concerns, keeping clients updated with progress reports – and everything in between – are all part of the account management process.
Additionally, as the main liaison linking the client to the company, regular internal communications between different departments are to be expected. It’s important to ensure all parties are aligned with the latest information to avoid miscommunication and potential roadblocks that can delay work in progress.
Earning customer trust isn’t easy. Successfully building reliable relationships with clients requires strong interpersonal skills, collaboration, and a great deal of flexibility. However, charisma isn’t enough to build long-lasting relationships with customers.
As an account manager, you’re a trusted advisor and partner for your clients. Truly understanding your clients’ industries, objectives, and pain points are the crux of successful account management. This knowledge will help you anticipate their needs, offer valuable insight, and propose customized strategies to meet their goals.
Understanding your clients and translating your knowledge into actionable advice is key to gaining their trust – and keeping it.
Data analysis and reporting
Account managers are often privy to large amounts of data, from performance data, market trends, and customer behavior. Providing regular updates and status reports is a crucial element of account management. Not only do these updates keep clients informed, but they can also reveal performance trends and opportunities for optimization.
Additionally, data is a valuable tool to underscore the impact of your company’s involvement. Conveying the added value and improvements associated with your partnership is an effective means of renewing and upselling clients.
Sales, marketing, and customer service are integral pillars of account management. From the industry’s early days as a sales support function, account managers have expanded their involvement and advise businesses as strategic, data-driven partners.
In the 1900s, sales people were the norm for connecting with customers directly. These representatives were responsible for securing sales, nurturing client relationships, and operating as the primary liaison between the business and their customers.
As markets grew and competition increased, companies recognized the need for a more strategic approach to managing their customer relationships. Driven by the desire to provide tailored services and foster lasting relationships with clients, the account management industry emerged.
By the mid-1900s, account management had evolved from a primarily relationship-focused role to a more strategic, consultative discipline. Account managers were no longer solely responsible for making sales. They were expected to act as trusted advisors to their clients, promoting customer retention and growth.
The digital advancements of the 1990s and 2000s dramatically shaped the account management industry. With access to vast amounts of customer data, account managers can develop more targeted and personalized approaches to managing client relationships.
Digital tools and platforms also enabled account managers to streamline their workflows, improve communication, and enhance collaboration with clients. These changes steered the industry to emphasize customer-centricity and data-driven decision-making in all forms of account management.
Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
Also known as account-based selling. A growth marketing strategy that uses highly personalized campaigns to target specific high-value accounts.
The process of categorizing a company’s key accounts into distinct groups based on their specific needs and preferences. Segmentation allows companies to effectively customize their marketing strategies to a smaller subset of accounts rather than trying to appeal to a generalized audience. Also known as customer segmentation.
Ad Hoc Reporting
Progress reports and status updates that are generated for clients at their request. These reports typically include real-time data to answer a specific question or highlight an individual component of the account.
Measuring a company’s performance in comparison to its competitors. These baseline metrics can act as a guide to reveal what strategies and tactics are effective versus those that can be improved.
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
The estimated revenue a customer or account will predictably generate throughout their relationship with a company.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
A technology or software dedicated to managing a company’s relationships with existing and prospective clients by tracking and analyzing interactions and data. These tools can provide for streamlined processes, better organization, and automated analysis to help drive sales and growth.
A marketing strategy aimed at building reliable awareness and interest within your target audience in order to generate high-quality leads. Demand generation tactics include nurturing leads, content marketing, and search engine optimization.
High-value clients that generate significant revenue and receive higher priority of resources and attention. Churn involving these accounts are more likely to negatively impact the company’s profits.
The process of identifying prospective clients, with the goal of converting them into customers. This is achieved by acquiring prospects’ contact information and cultivating interest throughout a person’s customer journey.
Request for Proposal (RFP)
A business document detailing a project that is shared with potential vendors in order to solicit proposals or bids from qualified contractors.
The people with an invested interest in a company or account. Stakeholders are inclusive of the account’s and management company’s leaders, team members involved with the account, and investors.
The process of identifying a key account’s opportunities for growth and optimization by analyzing its strengths, weaknesses, and competitors.
Tips for Success
- Be proactive! Don’t wait for your clients to come to you with problems or concerns. Being proactive in identifying potential issues, developing solutions, and offering regular status updates can enhance your working relationship and grow trust.
- Focus on results. It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the day-to-day as an account manager. At the end of the day, your clients care about results. Making an effort to deliver measurable results that align with their goals continually is key to growing client relationships and securing future upselling.
- Prepare for upselling opportunities. When preparing to upsell, it’s important to keep your client’s objectives in mind. Avoid pitching upsells for the sake of checking a box. Offers should align with your client’s needs and extend meaningful benefits.
Additionally, timing is vital to successfully upselling. Introduce opportunities without a solid foundation to your relationship, and you could be jeopardizing a client’s willingness to partner long-term. Introduce an opportunity too late, and your pitch may not carry the same weight.
- Be responsive. It’s essential to respond quickly to your client’s requests and concerns. Untimely communication can be detrimental to your relationship with your client. If they feel that their needs are not being met, they may look for a new provider.
- Keep up with industry trends and best practices. It’s important to keep up with the changing ecosystems. As an account manager, you have stakes in multiple fields: sales, marketing, and customer service. Staying informed by attending conferences, reading newsletters, and networking with other account managers are fantastic avenues for refining your skills.
Popular Tools and Resources
Managing multiple clients, coordinating and implementing their specific strategies, and analyzing data can sound overwhelming. Fortunately, account managers often have an extensive tech stack to support and simplify their efforts. Here are a few of the most popular tools and software used by account managers in 2023:
A customer relationship management (CRM) software is a valuable tool for account management professionals as it allows them to keep track of all communication with clients, leads, and potential customers in one place. It also helps with automating processes, tracking sales data, and centralizing contact information. Popular choices for CRM platforms include Salesforce and Hubspot (bonus: they have a free version!).
Account managers now have more ways to stay connected to clients and team members than ever before. Flexible communication platforms like email, video conferencing, and instant messaging options, such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, are essential for communicating with various parties with ease. Many platforms also offer additional automation features to streamline collaboration and operations.
Project management tools
Project management tools like Asana, Trello, and Airtable help account managers keep track of tasks, timelines, and deadlines. This helps to ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget.
Analytical tools such as Google Analytics and SEMRush are great for account managers to track the performance of campaigns and make data-driven decisions. This helps in identifying areas of improvement and making adjustments to optimize results.
Whether this is your first foray into the industry or you’re an experienced professional looking to advance your career, passion, and dedication can help you find success in account management.
To learn more about a career in account management, read our in-depth account management career guide!