When asked what an Account Manager (AM) does, the plain-jane answer is, well, they manage accounts.
And while that answer is logical and incredibly simplistic, it’s not entirely accurate. Sure, most AMs can offer a bare-bones relationship that is purely transactional, but this leaves a lot of money on the table and worse, displeased customers. With customer expectations at an all-time high, AMs are called to be so much more than that.
Here is a generalized breakdown of the basic activities an Account Manager typically does:
- Meet with customers to discuss feedback and account progress
- Track customer metrics and create reports
- Answering customer questions and providing product resources
- Collaborating with the sales team on customer contracts
- Leading renewal conversations with the customer
Many AMs are focused solely on taking orders, and little emphasis is put on the mindset and skills needed to serve customers at the highest level.
Effective AMs need a diverse set of skills that go well beyond what we’ve listed above. They are the face of a company, a lifeline for the customer, an advisor, and a salesperson. Plus, they’re under a tremendous amount of scrutiny as they battle the seas of customer churn.
5 Skills of a High-Performing Account ManagerWhile the role may vary from one company to the next, the skills needed are very similar, if not the same.
Relationship BuilderWhen sales hands off a customer, the AM's task is to quickly build trust and rapport. The only way to garner a seat at the decision-making table is to become a trusted advisor through relationship-building. This means getting into the weeds with the customers and focusing on a genuine connection rather than surface-level pleasantries.
Great AMs take an Other-Centered® approach, making every interaction and conversation about the customer. It fosters trust as partners, rather than vendors. An effective AM is worth their weight in gold and their insight gets tapped into well beyond managing orders and issues throughout the customer lifecycle.
CommunicatorWouldn’t it be nice if we had a crystal ball to know exactly what our customers wanted and needed? It would make strategic planning significantly easier.
But that’s not the reality we have.
The client doesn’t always make their needs known. The AM has to be able to uncover issues that may be unstated through clear, two-way, lines of communication. This means we have to be so much more than an order-taker.
Building trust and rapport gives clients comfort in opening up to us as AMs. Ask thoughtful questions and intently listen, instead of “listening to speak.” Great AMs seek to truly understand, not just rush through superficial conversations. We can’t read minds – we must listen for subtle cues about problems the customer may not raise directly. This helps AMs identify areas for improvement.
Problem Solver“Identify then rectify.”
Understanding customer challenges is only the first half of the equation. Effective AMs then develop solutions to address those needs and solve those problems. AMs are constantly juggling a wide range of customer-based challenges, and they need to be able to adapt on the fly. That may involve coordinating across internal departments, advising on new technologies, or tabling service upgrades.
For many AMs, this problem-solving approach requires a mindset shift toward putting service before sales. It requires that we work within the ebb and flow of each customer’s process to truly make an impact. The AMs that aren’t able to flex and flow like this around customer barriers will likely struggle.
LeaderTop account managers don’t just communicate – they lead. While low-performance AMs take orders, rarely more, great AMs take charge and lead the conversation, provide guidance, and help their accounts reach their goals.
Leading the conversation is much easier when you have an Other-Centered mindset. The sole focus is advancing the customer's needs and interests – getting them from point A to point B. It is significantly easier to do this when you approach relationship building through a lens of service before sales.
Top AMs display authority, strategic acumen, and industry foresight. This earns trust with clients, who quickly realize that you’re so much more than just an account rep.
Beyond the customer and AM relationship, this type of leadership on the part of the AM can create influence with multiple stakeholders and decision-makers to close the deal. It’s a win-win-win.
Why Account Management Training MattersAMs risk getting bogged down in day-to-day account management tasks instead of working to their full potential as trusted strategic advisors. This inherently limits their value. Effective and valuable account management demands that AMs receive adequate training, not only in skill sets but mindset as well. (Hint: traditional sales training won’t cut it.)
Comprehensive AM-specific training develops the blend of qualities that make Account Managers shine:
- Consultative skills to understand needs and provide solutions
- Relationship-building to earn trust quickly (and keep it)
- Communication techniques to uncover unspoken pain points
- Customer service excellence
- Churn prevention through account growth strategies
- Effective Account Management With ASLAN
It’s designed to help equip AMs with the skills and knowledge they need to become influential strategic advisors for their customers. It’s no secret that our Other-Centered strategy is not for everyone, but if your Account Management team feels like they may benefit from a change of pace, we’re here to help.