Back to Thoughts
Essential Skills for a Perfect Account Manager
Meet your office’s new MVP
By Andii Williams
Oct 27th, 2020
An Account Manager is an integral part of any service based business. They are responsible for maintaining the relationship between client and business, coordinating internal and external partners of a project and meeting the appropriate deadlines of the project.
At Made In the Pile the Social Media Account Manager role is front and centre of everything we do. Without them our work would not move forward, our creatives wouldn't know what they are working on and we would likely have some very unhappy clients.
So whether you are looking to hire an Account Manager or are looking to apply for an Account Manager position, here are the 5 essential skills all AM’s should have:
Whilst these 5 skills are not in any particular order, if they were, leadership would still be number 1. Account Managers are natural leaders. They are at the head of the ship steering the project to completion. They are the cohesion between a business, its internal workings and its external partners so they must be able to command all these moving parts. When hiring for an AM, ensure that not only do they possess these leadership qualities but also that they have the authority to drive progress.
What is leadership without great communication? At Made In The Pile, Social Media Account Managers are in the unique position of having a complex understanding of our internal processes, but must be able to communicate to clients in a simplified way. Effective communication is key for long term relationship building with both internal and external partners. Communication can also be overwhelming in an AM role without the ability to streamline it. Streamlining communication makes for good time management, which brings us to our next skill...
3. Time Management
Account Managers can spin a lot of plates at once, so the ability to manage their time effectively is critical for delivering on client promises. It's also critical from an operational point of view as it allows accurate capacity planning. How an Account Manager organises their time is up to them, but a favourite of ours is the Time Management Matrix from Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (best summarised by Planet of Success)
The beauty of that matrix is that it can be used in both work life and home life. Effective time management has a positive spillover effect into the work-life balance, leading to a more engaged and satisfied employee.
4. Understand the power of saying no.
Saying no can be uncomfortable in a work environment, especially when yes always feels like the right answer. Yes is the easy answer. Yes is the answer that is celebrated. But yes is also the answer that has no limits, and isn’t always true.
I’ve tried to be eloquent in introducing the power of saying no, but the team over at Psychology Today have summed it up perfectly in their breakdown of The Power of No.
‘No’ is a harder answer, sure, but it's the most honest answer. ‘No’ allows an AM to better manage their time and set boundaries for their internal and external partners. Partnering ‘no’ with an alternative option is the best way to handle saying no. It’s not as jarring as a plain old ‘no’ and it also shows the ability to compromise to complete tasks. It's an invaluable skill to have and one that takes time to master.
Ever had that client that sends too many requests a day? Or a work colleague that always asks you to get stuff done whether you have the time or not? Saying no shields you from that exploitation allowing you to focus on the important tasks you have already said yes to. It's time back in your pocket before it's even gone.
5. Willingness to learn and improve.
As is true with most fields of work nowadays, the knowledge bank is constantly evolving. What worked for a client last year might not work this year. Technology is moving at a rapid pace and directly affects what we can and can't do for a client. Account Managers need to stay on top of this and apply the other 4 points to whatever situation is presented to them.
Same goes for the points themselves. There will always be new management techniques, better ways to communicate and more effective ways to manage time. An AM that is proactive in these areas, someone that strives to improve and keep their skills up to date - this is the AM that will make a tremendous difference to any business.