5 Essential Skills of Account Managers
5 Essential Skills of Account managers
It takes months of conversations, demos, and meetings to close a deal. Both parties will be excited about the partnership. But now what? It’s critical to building a healthy strategic relationship with the client that can assist you with retention and expansion. A well-structured account management process in place might be your key.
What does an account manager do?
An account manager is accountable for the overall management of sales and relationships with customers of the company. Account Managers are always on the lookout of developing and maintaining a strong relationship with the customer by addressing their concerns and needs.
What is account management?
Account management is a collective strategic method that businesses use to upkeep their best clientele all along with their entrepreneurial journey. It is a process of overseeing the sales structure, planning the business continuity, and managing client relationships coherently. According to a study done by Gartner, customer service doesn’t drive revenue, but customer improvement might do the trick. And that is where key account management responsibilities comes into play.
Account Management vs Sales
The perspective differences between these two propositions are far and wide. The very difference between account management and sales can be illustrated with the example of a nomad merchant and an online global store. A nomad merchant aims to sell out the commodities in any means to the customers around his way. And the merchant’s sales proposition keeps varying. The online store reaches a far wider customer audience. The online shop owner equips the shop and supports the customer with all possible facilities. Likewise, account management finds the scope for future benefits rather than the benefit of a one-time deal.
Not surprisingly, the art of strategic account management and identifying key accounts is a complex process. You have to carry out a broad business prospect to afford and manage such accounts because they are going to get the benefit of your time and effort in the long term.
Who are account managers?
Account managers are generally a liaison between the business and its clients. They are essential to building strong strategic relationships and a healthy bottom-line with clients. Account managers think strategically and explore white spaces with the clients to retain the business and crack opportunities. White space refers to the gap between the products or services customers have currently invested in and the other products or services that your company can offer to them. The account manager has to take the responsibility to mitigate the challenges, solve the problems and find new opportunities to enhance client relationships.
They play a prominent role in the business process to enhance business prospects with the best clients with long-term engagement. While all the account managers need hands-on experience managing customer relationships, there are wide ranges of other (equally important) account management skills that are critical for the role.
5 Account manager skills you will need to master
1. Good listening and understanding capacity
In a business organization, good listening is the key to effective working relationships with clients. Listening helps to acquire facts that assist in better decision-making. It is also essential to building trust and can reduce conflict. Purposeful listening can help build objectives, find opportunities and enhance relationships at every interaction with the client. The next essential skill is to understand the bigger picture of the client’s needs and business specifics. Thoughtful analysis can help you anticipate the needs and exceed the expectations. This can be achieved through effective questioning. The account managers must formulate questions that engage the mind and direct the thinking. Effective questions lead to useful pieces of information for decision-making.
2. Collaborative and Customization ability
Account management is never a solo game but a collaborative effort. In the evolving business world, companies can’t compete on pricing/product alone. Companies must differentiate themselves with their customer experience. Collaborative selling is the future. Collaborating with customers to make them fully participate in the process can help build strong relationships, in turn, drive sales forward. Even internal team collaboration is essential for a sales account manager not only to relieve his pressure but also to get fresh and different perspectives to solve the problem.
3. Leadership and Ownership capability
Account leaders always work towards a vision and have the ability to inspire clients with a creative plan for the future. They challenge the clients and encourage them to make brave decisions. This can help build strategic account planning for disruptive transformations. Account Leaders are unique and embrace changes in every process that can yield huge results. They focus time and attention appropriately on the development of key accounts with a clear idea of actions.
4. Dynamic Business Analytical knowledge
Analytical thinking is the key ability to quickly identify the cause and effect relationships. This means understanding the scenario of what might happen in the process and proactively offering a solution to that. Dealing with a pile of information from various sources is critical for every account manager in his day-to-day work. So, having good attention to detail is necessary to notice, retain, and carefully evaluation of client problems.
5. Excellent communication skills
Being the liaison between the client and the company, a successful account manager must excel in communication skills. This is necessary to build a strategic relationship with clients and retain them. Keeping everyone in the team well informed about what’s happening and also the results of every process helps in coordination and maintaining rapport. Whether oral or written, the account manager must be able to be clear, concise, and convincing with his thoughts. Key Account Management is a continuous process that requires immense effort from highly skilled account managers. But that’s not enough, the account managers must be equipped with the right key account management tools and account planning tools that can assist them throughout their journey and make life easier.
Demandfarm’s Account Planner makes account planning ridiculously easy. Available as an add-on in Salesforce and MS Dynamics makes it the most preferred tool across industries for account planning
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About the Author
CEO & Co-Founder, DemandFarm
Milind is CEO & Co-Founder of DemandFarm. Having practiced and evolved the ‘account farming’ principle for over a decade he established DemandFarm and is passionate about delivering the best B2B key account management tool to serve the needs of key account managers. Milind also serves on the Board of LeadEnrich & is a Strategic Adviser.