A Good (No – Make That Great) Account Manager
(This blog was written by Tenacity Principal Randy Salisbury. Randy, like four of our other Principals, first experienced the Clients for Life® client retention process as a Tenacity client. Coming from the account management side of the advertising business, Randy hired, trained and mentored many account executives in the key elements of success. You’ve already seen the 10 Commandments of Client Retention in earlier blogs – here are Randy’s (and now Tenacity’s) 10 Commandments of Account Management. There is powerful wisdom here. It’s good to be good at this – it helps to have great mentors.)
The 10 Commandments of Account Management
- Listen: No… really, listen. I know you have a lot of important things to say, and witty come backs for client comments or reservations, but your first job is to listen to the client. If you really listen, and follow their lead, most clients will tell you what they need (or want). They will tell you where their pain points are, and what they want done about it. Your job is to listen well enough to understand them and be able to articulate them to your team back at the company.
- Represent: The litmus test for a successful account manager is to represent the company while at the client, and the client while at the company. This is a delicate balancing act because an account manager must remember where their paycheck comes from – but it comes from the revenue generated by happy, productive clients – and the account manager is the closest person to the client.
- Communicate: As the primary client representative you must be proactive in your communications with the client – and internally with the team that delivers the goods on behalf of the client.
- Codify: Capture the information from every client contact (phone or in person), organize it, route it and keep track of it. You are the central nervous system for the company. You cannot represent them if you don’t know what you are talking about.
- Deliver: A successful account manager takes personal responsibility for everything that happens on their account. Your personal mantra must be ‘Do what you say you are going to do’. Every time. Remember, you speak for the company when you make commitments. It’s your job to ensure that the company lives up to them, and if they are not going to, it’s your job to manage that with the client – before a deadline is missed.
- Impress: Know your client’s business. Their industry. Their competitors. Their growth plans; their key personnel. Be impressive by being an extension of their team. Make them wish you were their employee, not your company’s.
- Branch Out: Build a Web of Influence® inside your account. Get to know your counterpart’s boss and their direct reports too. Manage up and down inside the client organization. Make introductions for senior management from the company to the appropriate client associates, if they haven’t already been established.
- Be Inclusive: Don’t be the beginning and ending of all client knowledge. Share it internally with the broader team. Yes, knowledge is power, but sharing that knowledge is how you get real power. And how you impress your boss — and your boss’s boss.
- Anticipate: Once you know your client’s business as well as they know it themselves, you will be able to anticipate their needs and make recommendations before they ask. Even if they reject your suggestion, they will appreciate that you are thinking about ways to improve their business.
- Be Zealous: If you accomplish items 1 through 9 above, you will demonstrate that you care about your client. Personally and professionally. Remember, zeal can’t be taught. Either you have it or you don’t. Have it. It will make you a winner.