Top 5 skills of a successful account manager

Being a successful … Read...

Being a successful account manager can be a bit of a tricky process. It’s a dynamic role that requires you to strike a balance between satisfying customer expectations while staying in line with your organisation’s goals. This is done by building a series of long-term strategic relationships with key individuals. As such, it requires quite a diverse skillset – from formulating strategic plans, to delivering compelling presentations.

Now, whether you’re someone who’s just stepping into the role, or a wily veteran with multiple clients and campaigns under your belt, it doesn’t hurt to do a bit of self-assessment. That’s why we’ve listed down the top five skills that every successful account manager should have for you right here.

Communication is key

Having strong communication skills is one of the most important hallmarks of a successful account manager. It’s simple – the role revolves around both building and maintaining strong relationships, and for that, you need to be able to communicate effectively. You should be able to effectively craft messages that relay your intent via email conversations, relevant messaging software, over the phone and of course, in person as well.

Remember, you’re the connective tissue that’s holding everything together; the liaison between the customer and the rest of the company, and in certain cases, between various parties within the company itself. This means you need to be able to comfortably converse with executives, operations managers and all manner of different consumers, constantly switching up your tone and style to best suit the situation.

Expertise and knowledge

Being able to communicate your ideas effectively is great, but there needs to be substance to what you are saying. Spinning the same half-truths and company slogans to your customer base will only get you so far, and is a terrible way to build relationships. It simply isn’t sustainable – an unstable concoction that could blow up at any minute.

That’s why a successful account manager knows what they’re talking about. They are well versed in the goals and strategies of the organisation; they are knowledgeable about their brands and the values they promote, and in many ways come to embody these themselves. Importantly, through their established relationship network, they are able to know and understand what their consumers want as well.

This is particularly crucial in the current marketplace where consumers are both smarter and more demanding of businesses. Information is easily accessible, and customers have ample time and opportunity to be thorough with their purchases. Simply put, they aren’t simply going to buy products off the shelf on a whim. Account managers armed with the right knowledge and expertise, however, are able to personalise and tailor their products and offers to better suit the various needs of the market, ensuring better conversions and greater customer satisfaction.

Strategic thinking and long-term perspective

There are many good account managers out there who know what they’re talking about, and how to talk about it. However, it’s the level of strategy involved in their planning and operations that truly distinguish the great from the good.  

Despite the common adage, short term gains are important; making sales and executing bite-sized campaigns are all part of the job description. But a successful account manager has strategic plans and perspectives that extend well beyond a few weeks or months.

Well established long-term plans are essential for the continued success of any business or brand, and that’s exactly what a great account manager can offer, being able to craft exciting campaigns and initiatives that align with company objectives and work towards their achievement.

The flexibility to adapt  

It’s worth noting that working toward a long-term plan does not mean sticking to it absolutely. Businesses, consumers and industries all change with time; new trends are likely to burst onto the market while old ones slowly phase out. Successful account managers are able to change with the times themselves, being able to quickly adapt to new circumstances as they arise, constantly keeping an eye out for potential opportunities.

Flexibility is vital at an operational level as well. Certain campaigns or offers might not be performing as well as they should, and you should be able to optimise it on-the-fly. Rigidity and stubbornness are simply not options here and are qualities seldom seen in successful account managers. Focus and direction are important, but flexibility is vital.

Relationship building and networking

As we’ve mentioned here throughout, a successful account manager needs to be a ‘people-person’ and be savvy about the dynamics of a relationship. In fact, it’s important to understand the relationship dynamics that exist between the various different parties you’re routinely interacting with. After all, the job role is quite akin to being sat on a movie director’s chair, isn’t it? You’re constantly moving around the actors – your managing employees and your consumers – to the most ideal locations, mixing and matching everything and everyone to create a perfect picture.

As such, effective networking is a key skill seen in every successful account manager. The job entails building up a complex, interconnected web of contacts. The more intricate the web, the better, as it creates more opportunities and affords a greater choice of personnel.

Now, at first glance, the process of building a network may seem daunting, especially to someone just starting out. Just know that it’s something that most people ease into.
However, considering how dynamic this job role is, it’s important to stay organised and on-track, and there are quite a lot of useful tools that organisations can invest in to help out their account managers. 
A platform like Stringboard, a visual customer mapping app that’s designed to help sales teams work more effectively and efficiently would work wonders given that it specifically allows account managers to visualise an interconnected relationship network, allowing you to better understand and gauge people’s behaviours.

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