Simply put an account manager is the liaison between an agency and its clients. The primary responsibilities of account managers are to foster client relationships; work with sales and marketing teams to prepare presentations and sales pitches; design marketing strategies and media proposals; handle client communications and write client reports; and communicate client agendas to other staff members.
Account managers are the bridge that connects agency to client and it’s really important that account managers have the skills and know how to properly do their job.
Some skills in this industry are definitely more important than others, so today I’m going to be going through the skills i think are the most important to the role of an account manager and why.
Being able to deal with obstacles!
When it comes to account management you need to be very aware of ‘Murphy’s Law’, if it can go wrong, it will go wrong. Account managers need to be prepared and try as best as possible to prevent this. Being able to prevent, anticipate and deal with problems and obstacles is a major part of being an account manager, it separates the weak from the strong and is one of the most valuable and important skills in the industry. For a skilled and experienced account manager this means thinking rationally, thinking ahead and actively mitigating all risk. This will pave a clear path for you to be a successful account manager. However if this doesn’t work and a problem does arise, it’s important that an account manager, gets a thick skin, grows a pair and follows these rules:
- Don’t hide! Face up to the problem show that your willing to take responsibility. Not only will this mean no one else suffers from your mistakes, but builds trust and respect with clients. Not facing up to a problem can not only end in your termination but could also mean the loss of a client or in the worst case someone else’s termination. To be able to own up to a mistake and rise from it, not only helps you grow as a person but to grow professionally. E.g An account manager should full responsibility for not meeting a deadline, rather than shifting the blame, not only will no one else suffer, but taking responsibility and arranging a fix shows maturity and professionalism that clients love.
- Share the problem. I don’t mean share it and make it someone else’s problem, I mean come up with possible solutions and then see what other people think about these solutions. Sharing your ideas and solutions not only allows you to hear them outloud but allows others to think outside your view of thinking and potentially build on them.
This will allow you to come up with better solutions to your problems. It will show the client how responsible, professional and prompt at fixing problems you can be. E.g The client isn’t happy with any of the pitched ideas, quickly coming up with some ideas and running them by some coworkers to build on them, can save a make or break situation.
- Manage your client. Take control, show then why your trusted with their account, provide your solution and stay calm. The client chose to work with you for a reason, clients don’t want to be doing your work for you. E.g A client’s brief has been misunderstood and the communication between you is not clear. This can be easily avoided, by just managing your client. Ask clearly what they want, don’t be afraid to make suggestions and ask questions.
- Consider all the financial and timing implications and limits. Keep in mind what’s been affected and what can and can’t be achieved due to the problem. The budget problem could have been avoided if this was considered more before moving ahead. E.g A photographer outside our budget has been booked, if your aware or the implications and limits you can locate this problem and fix it before any real damage is done, however a really good account manager wouldn’t even let a problem like that happen in the first place.
- Never over promise! I know you want to win the client but it’s important to not over promise, as the chances of under delivering are high. Over promising can also lead to mistakes and problems with the budget. If you want a client’s trust and respect it’s important to be able to deliver on your promises! E.g If your promising your client a Billion dollar project that’s not possible with their budget, then that’s what they’re expecting. If your real with them in what they can achieve, in the long run they wont be dissapointed and they will trust your word more for the future.
- Make sure you and your client are on the same level! Understanding what your client wants is key in avoiding a problem. If you and you client dont have the same vision and cant get on the same level something will go wrong, Making sure you both understand what the other wants from the relationship means no confusion. This can prevent misunderstood briefs and misunderstood goals, as well as improving the trust and respect from your client it also looks great professionally and shows your a good communicator.
- Most importantly learn from your mistakes! This is something you will never stop doing, not only in account management but in life! It’s important to take something out of your mistake and correct it in future.
There are many other skills to being an account manager but problem solving and problem prevention are the skills most people aren’t equipped with. Being able to deal with problems quickly and easily isn’t a skill that most people are born with, however at least now you can come to a job being a little bit more prepared. Being an account manager doesn’t come with a guide book and an account manager is constantly learning more about their job everyday. As a great man once said “the problems of tomorrow don’t exist today” – Glen Fraser.