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Account manager job description, resume skills & salary
CareerBuilder | January 29, 2021
Account managers introduce products or new services to clients. They work in many industries, and have opportunities for promotion and higher salaries.
Most managers oversee employees at an organization or firm, but account managers preside over customers. They typically have a portfolio of customers for whom they're responsible. They ensure that their customers receive products and services on schedule and that they don't have any unanswered questions. Essentially, they become the primary liaison between the customer and the rest of the company.
What does an account manager do?
Now that you understand how account managers work in a broad sense, it might help to understand their specific role in a company or organization. As your customers' key point of contact, you'll spend much of your time in client-facing duties, but your responsibilities might also include administrative skills and managerial skills. Here are some key responsibilities that account managers routinely face:
- Communicate project or order changes to customers
- Update customers on delivery timelines
- Discuss customer needs and preferences with sales personnel
- Develop in-depth professional relationships with customers
- Maintain records on customer preferences and histories
- Suggest alternatives to customers with supply or project management changes occur
- Identify decision makers at B2B companies
- Provide customers and internal teams with regular progress reports on orders
- Forecast orders based on each customer's history
- Track account metrics for historical and forecasting purposes
- Establish new accounts and nurture existing accounts
- Qualify potential leads
- Help clients and customers understand contracts, warranties, and other documents
- Participate in continuing education and product knowledge training
- Develop accounts by identifying key areas of need
- Network with potential customers both online and offline
- Assist with meeting quarterly or annual sales targets
- Attend in-person, online, and telephone meetings with clients
- Document every step in the sales and management process
Account managers can work in a variety of environments depending on the industry. For instance, some account managers work and act as sales professionals as well as account managers. They might schedule lunches, dinners, and other social engagements with prospects and visit B2B customers' businesses to discuss their needs in-depth.
Other account managers work in a typical office setting. For instance, you might have your own office, or you might work in a bullpen or cubicle arrangement. You'll often work with other professionals at your company, such as sales and accounting staff, to manage accounts more effectively.
Since your superiors will evaluate your job based on your ability to obtain and retain customers, this can become a high-stress job. If you fail to reach your quotas or meet your deadlines, you could face a reprimand from your boss or even a demotion. Additionally, you might find this job more stressful if you identify as an introvert rather than an extrovert. You will spend most of your day communicating with others, so high-energy professionals perform best in this career.
Long hours often prove essential for account managers. While you'll likely enjoy holidays off, you might need to work evenings and weekends to keep up with your responsibilities, even if your stated hours are from nine to five. This is especially true if you're traveling to meet with customers or catching up on administrative work. You might have to take documents and paperwork home with you at night to complete them.
Requirements for account managers
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, includes account managers with sales managers. According to the BLS, these professionals need at least a bachelor's degree to succeed in this position, though work experience can sometimes take the place of education for certain candidates. Some account managers have master's degrees, as well, such as Master's of Business Administration degrees.
If you're hoping to become an account manager, choose a related subject to study in school. Some of the most relevant majors might include:
- Business administration
- Public relations
- Advertising or marketing
- Account management
You might also consider pursuing an internship while you get your degree. An internship can introduce you to business contacts who will help you achieve your professional goals later on. You'll learn critical skills and knowledge that will strengthen your career trajectory and help you find early success. You might also have better employment options after you graduate because you'll have hands-on experience.
Many account managers start out in sales, whether inside or outside. They perfect their closing techniques and their ability to communicate successfully with customers. If they can demonstrate a successful track record, they might get promoted to Account Executive and then to account manager.
You can also approach a career as an account manager from the customer service side. You'll show that you have excellent communication, problem-solving, and decision-making skills. Other career path options include promotions from account, public relations, and project management. If you have a master's degree, you might need less experience to land a job in this field.
You'll need a healthy skill set if you want to become an account manager. This can be a demanding job that requires significant knowledge. Some of the skills prospective employers will expect include:
- Technology - Basic computer and internet skills will serve you well as an account manager. You'll need a high-level facility with customer relationship management (CRM) software and accounting software.
- Communication - Account managers have to communicate clearly and effectively. Strong interpersonal communication skills become essential, and you must know how to communicate verbally and in writing.
- Negotiation - You'll have to find middle ground between your employer's needs and abilities and your customers' requests.
- Diplomacy - When communicating with customers, you have to remain polite and diplomatic at all times, listening carefully to what they want and explaining your position effectively.
- Efficiency - Most account managers must meet quotas and deadlines, so you'll have to meet those while satisfying your customers' needs.
- Presentation - When closing a new or existing customer, you'll have to give presentations and pitches to convince them to buy from your employer.
- Management - In addition to managing customers, you might also manage other employees at your company.
- Motivation - If you have excellent motivational skills, you'll find it easier to convince customers that your company offers the best solutions to their problems.
- Customer service - While account managers need to meet their employer's demands, they must also serve their customers at all times.
- Prioritizing - Account managers often have many responsibilities on their plates. To succeed, you must know which obligations demand your attention first.
How much money does an account manager make?
The median annual salary for account manager is $75,500. The most experienced and successful professionals in this field can command salaries of $160,500, while entry-level account managers start at around $40,000. The most well-paid account managers often work in industries like finance, insurance, and manufacturing.
Job Outlook for an Account Manager
According to the BLS, the account manager job position will grow at a rate of about 4%, as fast as average. However, job health remains largely industry specific. For instance, if the automotive industry experiences a slump, account managers who work with cars and other vehicles might see contractions in employment availability. Similarly, financial health in the manufacturing industry will produce more jobs for account managers in that sector.
Is Account Manager a sales job?
Businesses recognize the need for an effective sales team, which should fuel job availability and security for successful account managers. Meeting your deadlines and quotas can help you secure future employment because you become an invaluable commodity for your employer. Additionally, you might find more job options if you have a master's degree or significant experience.
If you prove yourself effective as an account manager, you'll enjoy several advancement opportunities. Many account managers, for instance, go on to become Account Directors. These professionals are responsible for managing several account managers in various territories. They set goals and quotas and provide encouragement and advice.
From there, you might consider a job as a director of account services. In this position, you'll preside over the entire account management department and communicate directly with the C-suite about objectives, progress, and potential initiatives. You will also set the budget for the department and ensure all cost-saving measures are taken to ensure financial viability.
Account managers serve a critical role in businesses of all types. They work directly with customers, which often means traveling and meeting outside the office. Extroverted professionals with sales or management experience will do well in this job, especially if they're looking for a position with advancement potential.
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