What People in Sales (Account Management) Do
Large companies tend to break their sales departments into two main groups; those who help generate new business, also referred to as business development representatives, and those who help keep existing customers happy so they renew or continue to purchase additional products or services, generally called account managers or account executives. For clarification, this page focuses on the branch of sales devoted to account management, but those interested in a career in sales are also urged to visit the “New Business” sales page as well.
Account managers are equal parts customer service representatives and salesmen. They learn what they can about the customers and take steps to ensure that the customer is getting the most they can from the products and services offered. This means that someone is always in touch as a customer liaison, ensuring the customer stays happy, and makes it possible for the company to maximize profits.
Who would enjoy a career in Sales (Account and Relationship Management)?
Interpersonal and detail-oriented people do best, as it’s important to be aware of how one’s company benefits the customer, as well as any challenges the customer faces and other solutions that are available to them. They also must be quick thinkers because they don’t always know what a call might bring. In many cases, the customer will be indifferent to the call or perhaps even happy, but sometimes account managers have disgruntled customers on the other end of the line, and it’s their job to work out whatever problems are present. Naturally, effective communication and negotiation skills are a major part of this. Basic software skills and knowledge of the industry the account manager serves as well as the customer works in are essential too.
Who mightn't like the career?
People who don’t handle stress well have trouble in the position, simply because they are tasked with working out problems as they arise. While account managers tend to do less “sales” than business development representatives, they are often expected to meet specific sales goals, so it’s not a good position for those hoping to avoid a sales career altogether. Being in sales also means that an account manager’s income is largely made from commission, which can be a challenge for people who need more reliable and steady income. Lastly, as deadlines for goals loom, account managers may put in more hours than normal. Those with inflexible schedules will have trouble with this unless they’re adept salesmen.
There is no direct path to get into an account management career, nor are there any educational requirements. However, those intending to get into the field often have sales and marketing degrees. Certifications related to sales can also help a person get in the door and are often linked to higher salaries as one’s career progresses.
Because people with any degree and background can get a position as an account manager, the focus on interviewing tends to be industry expertise as well as interpersonal, negotiation, and sales skills.
- Could a Career in Account Management Be Right for You?
- Account Manager Interview Questions
- Account Management vs. Sales: What's the Difference?
Moving into Sales (Account and Relationship Management) from another career
Any career can transition into a career in account management, provided the individual serves customers or works for a business within his area of expertise.
- Marketing Specialist
- Corporate Strategist
- Operations Manager
- Business Owner
- Retail Salesperson
- Sales (new sales/ business development)
Role: Account executives serve as the primary customer liaison, reaching out to the customer on a regular basis and building a better relationship. Each organization makes use of account executives differently, but one can expect to make regular phone calls or send out emails. They may be responsible for designing presentations to demonstrate new products that can help their existing clients or to educate them about the products they already have. They generally have goals that must be met, such as upgrading or retaining a certain number of customers. In some cases, account managers also touch base with a client throughout an ongoing project to make sure the organization is meeting the customer’s expectations.
Role: The account manager, sometimes referred to as an account supervisor, does all the things the account executive does, but on a broader scale. For example, if a marketing agency has account executives and managers, the manager will be the one to check in on what the other departments are doing and ensure they’re meeting all their deadlines. In this case, it might be a graphic design team, advertising team, and web design team that the account manager touches base with. The account manager will also oversee the account executives and will help correct any problems that the executives can’t.
Account managers do not generally travel for work, but they do have the opportunity to work virtually anywhere in the world.
Account Executive: According to data from PayScale, account executives have average salaries of USD $52,000 in the United States, £22,000 in the United Kingdom, CAD$50,000 in Canada, and AU$54,000 in Australia. However, it’s worth noting that specific industries and companies pay significantly more. On average, those working for top payers such as Procter & Gamble, Amazon, and AT&T bring home USD$90K, $87K, and $84K, respectively.
Account Manager: USD$53,000, £28,000, CAD$54,000, AU$66,000.
Bonuses, commission, and profit sharing are all often added to a sales representative’s salary and can nearly double it.
Why People in Sales (Account Management) move on
Sales, in general, is a difficult career to remain in due to the lack of job growth opportunities, high pressure to meet goals, and fluctuating income. While adept salesmen may remain in the career their whole lives and see salaries that grow exponentially, most move into other careers within the same company or out to another field that suits their backgrounds within a few years.