If you have been reading our blogs regularly, then you know that we write extensively on Customer Success. And the most widely known role in customer success is the customer success manager (CSM). But this blog is specifically about an account manager (AM). CSM and AM are related in the sense AMs can be said as a traditional form of a CSM.
In any organization, AMs are specifically responsible for the management of sales and relationships with customers. They are the interface between a company and the customer. Most of the time they also represent the voice of the customer in an organization. AMs are solely responsible for keeping the customers satisfied so that they continue doing business with the company.
Usually, an AM would manage a group of customer accounts. Very rarely they manage a single account and this is applicable only for an enterprise customer. After all, they have to justify their cost to the company. Hence, the account(s) they handle must bring more monetary value to the company than it is invested in themselves.
The AM oversees and understands the customer’s needs and makes sure that the company delivers solutions towards the same. Oftentimes, they also collaborate with other departments like sales and marketing to prepare sales pitch, design client communication materials, and other similar tasks. So, let’s have a glance at their day-to-day responsibilities in a nutshell.
Responsibilities of an Account Manager
In all the tasks an AM does, they need to ensure that the company’s customers are finally happy. They have to nurture the relationship with the customers that in turn brings more value to the firm. Few of the tasks they take up towards this end are:
Since AM is the most qualified employee to understand the customers, they also help the sales and marketing team to acquire new customers. It is essential in any SaaS-based organization to not just find any customer but a right-fit customer who would stay in business for the long term. Hence, AMs help understands the marketing team what essentially is a right-fit customer and how to acquire one.
Supporting existing customers
They help existing customers in their day-to-day operations. It is a part of the Account manager job description to ensure that the customer is finding continuous value in the company’s product. It is also necessary to keep track of the customer experience and help them if they get stuck somewhere. If the customer has raised any support ticket which is taking a long time to get resolved then the AM pitches in and helps it get resolved immediately. They know who to contact for getting the issues resolved.
Account Managers work on the “land and expand” strategy wherein they start small with customers and eventually expand the customer account to fetch more business. They are responsible for turning an ordinary customer into the champions who would generate more revenue, be loyal, and become a brand advocate. This way those customers would not only add to more revenues but also help bring new customers to the business.
Negotiations with customers
Whenever there are two parties involved in a transaction, negotiations are bound to happen. Account Managers are skillful negotiators wherein they manage a fine balance between the client’s expectations and what a company can deliver. They help customers understand the cost behind the solutions they are getting and justify the quotations they offer to them. Hence, building budgets and quotations is also an integral part of AM’s daily activity.
Managing ongoing projects
All the projects that are due for delivery, AMs oversee them and make sure they are delivered before the deadline. They take a proactive measure to ensure clients are always informed of the status of the project. They also make sure that the internal team is working seamlessly on the projects which are due for delivery. If there is any delay, an AM knows the right action to mitigate the risk of setbacks that a customer might face. They would also know how to resolve the issues through the right resources which the development team is facing in a project.
Requirements for the Account Manager Role
Personality and sales aptitude are key to anyone aspiring for this role. A degree in business management or marketing is also required. Although it is a client-facing role, companies have different requirements based on the nature of their offerings. Yet, few common skills to look for in an AM are:
- Excellent communication skills: because you need to clearly understand the client’s challenges, needs, and expectations. The whole organization is dependent on your ability to articulate the client’s voice.
- Time management: Since you need to juggle between multiple accounts, time management skills are absolutely important to ensure you don’t miss serving any account.
- Understanding of the domain: Although it is not possible to understand every client’s domain or niche, it is desirable if you possess an abstract knowledge of it.
- Empathy: This is especially helpful in a time of crisis. When your client is upset about your service, then you should know how to pacify them and resolve the issue immediately. AM with good listening skills always performs better in this role.
- Leadership: There are many times when the AM has to coordinate with the technical staff or project managers to get things delivered. Strong leadership skills ensure that people respect your decisions and cooperate with you in the time of need.
Salary for Account Manager
Based on a survey on more than 25k AMs, the average salary of an AM in the United States comes close to $90k/year. This includes their average commissions and bonus. In most of the companies, their remuneration also depends on the percentage of revenue they are able to generate through their customer accounts.
An account manager is lucrative and one of the most sought-after jobs in the SaaS industry. With customers having so many options to choose from, they go with the ones who offer a great customer experience. Hence, AMs should demonstrate their ability to fetch greater customer satisfaction that is the key to the growth of any SaaS business.
Most AMs see their jobs as maintaining a long-term relationship with the customers. This has many advantages to it. Customer lifetime value rises with it and that attracts more investors to your business. Hence, a key AM plays a crucial role in deciding the fate of any organization.