How to succeed in Account Management

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project managementWhat is Account Management?

Account Management is a post-sales role that focuses on nurturing client relationships by providing professional client service, as well as retaining clients’ business and growing those opportunities by managing their projects.

The Account Manager accomplishes these objectives by learning and understanding their clients’ goals and helping their clients achieve them. Instead of a short-term role that focuses on landing the client and creating business transactions, the Account Manager acts as a long-term liaison and a trusted consultant.

 

What are the most important skills for Account Management?

Communication & Interpersonal Skills

Communication skills are crucial in order to have a solid understanding of the clients’ needs and requirements, translating them into industry language that the working team will be able to understand and put into action to complete tasks and projects accordingly.

An Account Manager, for example, in the design agency acts as a middle person between the client and the designers. On one hand, they grasp the vision, mission, and brand positioning of the client’s business, help them identify the business goal and marketing strategy for each project, then inform them about the current work status of their projects at different stages.

On the other hand, they work closely with both internal and external working teams, including the designers, to make sure these business goals and marketing strategies are implemented accordingly in a creative context, and that the projects are executed as per the requirements.

With over 10 years of experience working with clients and stakeholders from different cultures around the world, one thing I have found is that excellent interpersonal and communication skills are necessary to develop effective partnerships and working relations with both internal and external parties, regardless of the job position and working environment.

 

Organization & Coordination Skills

Apart from facilitating the information flow, monitoring the execution, and making sure that what needs to get done actually gets done is another key responsibility of an Account Manager. To achieve the desired result, organization and coordination skills are essential to

  • create structure and order
  • break projects into small tasks
  • prioritize work
  • prepare systematic planning and scheduling
  • organize activities
  • coordinate people and resources
  • track time and costs, and finally
  • monitor the progress to ensure smooth prompt execution

In other words, organization skills include strategic planning, decision making, time management, team and resources management skills.

In addition, skills such as planning, creating order, and organization have helped throughout my career in different positions. They have allowed me to stay focused and calm in stressful and time-limited situations, as well as to remain flexible and react with agility to change and new contingencies. This is a particularly important part of an Account Manager’s toolbox.

 

Resilience & Problem-Solving Skills

An Account Manager has to be a flexible problem solver. Risks and opportunities occur all the time in all types of business. Business interruption can cause supply and demand shifts, and the client’s needs can change due to many different reasons. As the client’s main point of contact, the Account Manager is often presented with such problems. They need to be willing and able to address challenges and help clients overcome them.

I have always enjoyed working with people, understanding their needs, and getting straight to the heart of the matter to find workable solutions. It is my experience, however, working in the airline industry that taught me about going “the extra mile”. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn about proactively identifying the potential risks even before they arise and preparing in advance to make changes and tackle problems.

This goes even one step ahead of problem-solving skills and it is a transferable skill that I have been putting in use in all other spheres of work since then.

The importance of Account Management

As per the 80-20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, over 80 percent of sales come from 20 percent of clients. These client accounts that add higher value demand greater care.

As discussed above, a skilled Account Manager can understand their clients’ needs, plan and organize work to help to achieve their business goals, solve their problems with customized product or service solutions, and develop a long-term strategic partnership with the clients that extends beyond the original sale.

You do not need to have years of Account Management experience to excel in being an Account Manager, but you certainly need the above skills to nurture client relationships while providing professional project management service.

In general, experience working with clients and stakeholders, and with a variety of transferable skills, are beneficial in an Account Management position.

 

Further Reading:

Project Managers: how to maintain credibility with stakeholders, by 

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Canny Chan Canny Chan

I have over 10 years of experience working with clients and stakeholders from different backgrounds around the world.

My interpersonal and communication skills allow me to develop effective partnerships and working relations with both internal and external parties, meaning I adapt easily in various dynamic international environments.

From the airline industry, a commodity trading house, to an FMCG company, I have always enjoyed working with people, understanding their needs, analyzing the issues, going "the extra mile", and getting straight to the heart of the matter to find workable solutions to problems.

I am always appreciated for my aptitude for planning, order and organization, while staying flexible and remaining calm in stressful situations.

My positivity and resilience are the keys to success in client relationship and project management.

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