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What Is an Account Manager?

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An account manager is responsible for building and managing customer relationships after the company has sold a product or service to a customer. They use stellar people, multitasking, and sales skills to delight customers and win renewal negotiations. In this guide, you’ll learn how and where account managers work, what they make, and what skills you need to succeed in account management. We’ll cover:

What Does an Account Manager Do?

An account manager oversees their company’s client or customer accounts. After a company sells a product to a customer or partners with another company, an account manager manages the relationship. They’re the day-to-day contact for the client to ensure all their needs are met, share updates on the account status and metrics, and answer any client questions.

These professionals also work closely with the sales team to identify opportunities on how to renew and expand current client contracts. 

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Some responsibilities an account manager might have include:

  • Meeting with a client at a regular cadence (once a month, once a quarter, etc.) to discuss any feedback they have and account progress
  • Tracking client metrics and creating client reports
  • Answering client questions about the company and its product
  • Collaborating with the sales team on a client contract
  • Leading renewal conversations with a client near the end of their contract
  • Communicating with the client about industry business trends and their competitors

A Day in the Life of an Account Manager

“A typical day for an account manager is often anything but typical as their responsibilities will be dependent on the requests of the client,” Jamie Levin, communications consultant at JLevin Communication, a public relations firm, says. “However, there are often daily responsibilities, that are standard. In a public relations agency, for example, the account manager may be responsible for media monitoring — essentially alerting the client to any relevant media coverage of the client, identified competitors, and relevant industry topics.” 

Maggie Reznikoff, vice president of account management at Open Influence, an influencer marketing company, agrees that while some tasks are recurring, “no two days look the same” at her job.

“With multiple campaigns happening across multiple brands, account managers are often working on projects that are at different stages from one another,” she says. “Having a variety of clients and creator rosters to keep track of keeps things fresh, but also requires strong organizational skills and attention to detail so nothing slips through the cracks.” 

How Much Does an Account Manager Make?

According to Payscale, the average salary for an account manager in the U.S. is about $58,000. Base salaries typically range from $40,000 to $86,000, depending on experience level. Senior account managers average closer to $75,000 a year.

An account manager’s salary also depends on what kind of account management they do. For example, a technical account manager earns an average of $91,500 a year, according to Intuit’s Mint salary data. These are account managers that help users with the technical side of a company’s products, and therefore need to have more technical and hard skills.

A key account manager, someone who handles high-profile accounts, makes an average of $96,000 a year, according to Mint. Their salaries are likely higher because of the size and status of the customers they work with.

What Industries Do Account Managers Work In?

Account managers can work in any industry where a company sells to customers and establishes long-term relationships with them. Some examples of industries account managers work in include:

  • Technology: One company buys a tech product from another company. An account manager shows the company how to use the product to fit its needs, tracks how the product is helping the company become more efficient, and encourages the company to spend more by sharing new tech updates and capabilities.
  • Finance: A company uses another company’s financial services to help it with wealth management. An account manager at the financial services company tracks the client’s finances, assists with any investment, spending, or savings questions, and reports on its growth.
  • Marketing: A company uses a marketing agency to help improve its brand recognition. The account manager tracks any time it’s mentioned in an article, on television, and on social media. They work with the client on campaigns, advertisements, and other marketing initiatives to get them more coverage.

How to Become an Account Manager

Account managers typically have a bachelor’s degree in a related field like business administration, sales, communications, or marketing. However, experience working directly with customers is one of best ways to learn how to succeed in this kind of role.

Many account managers start their careers in entry-level sales positions. In these roles, they get experience speaking with clients, learning about the sales and renewal process, and discovering what industries they might be interested in.

>>MORE: Explore a career in sales with Forage’s sales virtual experience programs.

What Skills Does an Account Manager Need?

Above all, account managers need excellent communication skills. They need to communicate effectively with clients and ensure their needs are met. They also need to communicate internally with their team to help get clients answers, meet their metrics, and brainstorm expansion opportunities.

>>MORE: Top Communication Skills for the Workplace

Beyond communication skills, account managers will also succeed if they have:

  • People skills: “Being a people-person, or on the extrovert side, may better suit this type of profession as you need to network, make long-lasting connections and communicate with outside organizations or professionals daily,” Jamie Schuppert, marketing manager at Niche, a web3 social media app centered on content creators and interest-based clubs, says.
  • Basic data skills: You’ll need to track client metrics to understand account performance. Whether that’s tracking how much engagement they have on social media or how their clothing sales have increased, you need to be able to track and present these metrics to clients in a digestible and actionable way. (Learn how to boost your professional presentation skills.)
  • Project management skills: Account managers typically work with multiple clients. They need to manage their communication with clients, industry news, outstanding questions, and performance. Great attention to detail and the ability to multitask are crucial.

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Image credit: Nataliya Vaitkevich / Pexels

Zoe Kaplan is a Senior Writer at Forage. Prior to joining Forage, she wrote and edited career and workplace content for Fairygodboss, the largest career community for women.