The Building Blocks of Effective Account Management

What makes an effective account manager?  It’s certainly measured in results – sales, renewals, referrals – but how do you achieve those results?  We’ve all had experiences with clients that for all our efforts it just didn’t go our way, so why do some accounts thrive and others falter and how much of that is due to the account manager?

Account Management is an interesting role; it’s comprised of so many other skills and specialties.  Therein lies the challenge…and the reward!  A good account manager pulls from a variety of experience, skills and talents.  Success is not only measured in sales but in loyalty.  Capturing market share from competitors in repeat business is a mark of true success.  It takes a lot more to build customer loyalty than to motivate a single or short-term sale.

A finely honed account manager utilizes skills in sales, business development, customer service, marketing, communications and even psychology to name a few.  It’s a challenge and a pleasure to be able to put so much of your talents to work as an account manager.  But the most effective attribute is honesty.  You can’t gain your client’s trust without it and the truth always comes out.  Developing loyal client relationships as a trusted advisor requires honesty above all.  You listen, learn, evaluate and recommend based on the client’s objectives and goals, and match those to your offerings where they make sense.  It’s a personal philosophy that if you can’t offer an appropriate solution don’t try to force one to fit!  The client will sense your desire is just to close the deal rather than build that trusted advisor relationship and your bridge will burn.  We can’t solve all of our clients’ problems so focus on the ones you can solve and then excel in delivering on that promise.

Building trust is a marathon.  While it may feel risky, sometimes finding the best solution for your client may mean outsourcing.  It’s counterproductive to send the sale to your competition unless they offer something that your company is not in the business of offering.  Perhaps it’s just one component or it’s in a related industry.  For example, your company sells technology solutions but your client needs data.   Make a recommendation for a data solution, or better yet, obtain the data as part of your bundled offering and you’ve made your client’s job easier and shown you’ll do what it takes to be a valuable partner.  Honesty and doing what’s right for the client is the foundation for a trusted advisor relationship.  Remember it’s a marathon; you earn the trust and you’ll reap the rewards.

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