Top 5 Account Manager Interview Questions, and How to Handle Them
Check important account manager interview questions. Here are 5 must learn strategic account manager interview questions and answers you should prepare.
May 7, 2020
With the evolution of ways companies deal with customers, the role of account manager has become prominent. It has become extremely useful in business. They are one of the key players alongside the sales and marketing team of a company. But unlike the traditional sales people, account managers need to maintaining a healthy relationship with clients during their entire journey. This Article lists top Account manager Interview Questions and Answers for review before taking or giving an interview.
The account managers work with all the customer-facing departments of a company to make sure that the customer is able to get the service of highest standards. And since companies are increasingly realizing the benefits of appointing a dedicated resource to better serve their clients, the account manager career path is becoming one of the most sought-after job roles in current times.
While the account manager role revolves around customer relationships, account planning, sales support and many more areas, there are many personality traits that are desired in a candidate who is suitable to get hired for this role.
They should be able to demonstrate leadership skills, organization skills, communication skills and sales skills to prove themselves capable of handling such responsibilities. After all, they need to face the clients and maintain a positive work culture with them.
Hence, out of all the key account manager interview questions and answers, below are the most relevant and frequent ones that candidates should prepare for. So, here they are.
1. How do you foster a good client relationship?
Clients often check the credibility of a company based on the faces they interact with. Account manager is the first and most important face of an organization whom clients would be dealing with. Hence, hiring managers would like to know how well can you handle the client and how good are you in nurturing a long-term relationship with them.
In order to gain the trust of the hiring manager, you must show how successful you have been in the past in building client relationships. If you have been able to build a relationship with your past client over a sporting activity like golf or balling, or if you have gone over the top by inviting them through free passes to a music concert or event, then it is the best time to highlight that.
If you are a beginner then you can say that before meeting the client you would do an online research on their company and the client profile to know their background and lifestyle. You can find common points (like we went to the same college or we come from the same city) that can be brought up in your discussion with the client.
But besides these points, don’t forget to highlight the importance of adding value to your client’s business. It is paramount in maintaining a working relationship with them.
2. Have you ever disappointed any of your clients? What did you do to rectify that?
Apart from avoiding any mistake, the biggest strength of any account manager lies in owning a mistake. Accepting your mistake to the point that you don’t self-deprecate yourself is a key trait of an account manager. It shows their experience in trying new things that didn’t work and they have learnt from their errors.
This kind of question arises from a specific category of account manager interview questions called STAR method. The STAR method stands for:
Situation: Describing the background of any unfavourable situation that occurred.
Task: Mentioning about your role in that situation.
Action: Your actions towards addressing that situation.
Result: What was the outcome/learning from that event.
You should prepare in advance to answer this question clearly in the above-mentioned structure. Think of any situation that you experienced in the past which is worth sharing here. Define clearly your role and the actions you took to overcome that situation. What was the outcome of that situation? And finally, the most important point – what lesson did you learn.
3. How do you close a new client?
Through this question, the interviewer wants to check how good you are in onboarding a new client. The client might be switching their service from another vendor or trying your niche of service for the first time. How well do you give orientation to your client so that they feel welcomed in this new relationship?
Here you can mention the resources you will gather to introduce your client to your product or service. What would be the structure of your meetings with a new client. And what all information would you like to fetch from them by asking the appropriate questions.
You can also do the background research of any of your competitors from whom your client is switching. Then highlight the differences, like in pricing or features, that they will be experiencing with you.
4. What measures would you take to achieve your sales target if you are lagging behind?
This is one of the key sales account manager interview questions to know if you can justify your cost to company. Or in other words, how efficient you are in meeting your targets. A successful account manager has to hit their sales target. And they should be able to highlight that in every monthly or quarterly revenue report.
Explain how organized you are in tracking your progress every month or week by using the software like Salesforce. You can say that you generate monthly or weekly reports even before your manager asks for it so that you can ensure that you are on the right track.
Once you identify there is a lag in meeting your sales target much before it is reported to higher management, you take appropriate steps towards generating revenue from your customers. If they are open to new offerings and expansion of their service then you give them exclusive deals or pitch another relevant product of your company which might help scale your business with them.
5. Can you give an example when you converted an almost churned client to get renewal in their contract?
One of the most important characteristics of a successful account manager is to retain those customers who are on the verge of churn. This is one of the key reasons why companies appoint account managers and through this account manager situational question, the interviewer wants to check how good you are in accomplishing this goal.
The most important action you can take while dealing with at-risk customers is to listen to their challenges with your service. You have to identify all the pain-points of your customer. Then you can say that you would like to walk them through the solutions to fix those issues so that they don’t arise again in the customer journey.
A suitable example could sound something like this. Once a customer decided to hire an SEO expert internally and discontinue their service with your company. You inquired about the background of their new hire and suggested that you can work in tandem with them because of you holding more experience in this domain. You can help train this new resource while working with them for another year and help them get started off on the right foot. The client got convinced and renewed their subscription.
Ten more bonus questions
Having listed the account manager competency-based interview questions above, here are few more questions that you would want to have a look. These vary from behavioural to situational account manager questions.
1. Are you familiar with Salesforce CRM software? Do you have experience with any other CRM software?
This is one of the technical account manager interview questions to check how comfortable they are with using a software for customer relationship. It is not necessary that a candidate should have an experience only with Salesforce. The experience may include any other CRM software as well like Zoho.
You must show your capability of working with a software to augment your operations. A data driven approach in client management is always appreciated by tech companies. Hence, while answering this, you can also share your experience with other tools and software that you generally use for conducting your job responsibilities.
2. How do you prepare monthly or quarterly reports to show to your reporting manager? What information do you need for that?
This is one of the key account manager interview questions. Data analysis is an important task for an account manager. All the data they have gathered for a month or a quarter must be collated in a reportable manner so that the exact picture of the progress made in that duration can be viewed by their reporting managers.
You must show your expertise in collecting data and converting them into valuable information. You may use a CRM or a Customer Success Platform to collect all the data from different sources at one place. A 360 degree customer view is something you might want to do this and show to them. You must prepare with the basic data-points you need for client engagement to answer this question.
3. Describe the portfolio of your clients from your last job.
This is an important question for your hiring manager to know what customer size is most suitable for you. They might have different segments of customers like SMBs or Enterprise customers. Hence, they would be interested in knowing what segment suits you best. It also depends on the requirement they have for each segment.
You may want to share about the total recurring revenue you were able to generate through your existing clients. Also, giving information about the total revenue you generated through upsells and cross-sells. Sharing the portfolio of about 2 to 3 enterprise clients should be enough. And for SMBs, you might want to talk in terms of segments you were serving.
4. How do you handle a dissatisfied customer? What actions you take on customer complaints?
An account manager is solely responsible for turning a dissatisfied customer to a loyal one. Hence, a hiring manager wants to know how adept are you in this skill.
Instead of talking in generic terms, you may want to share a specific case of a customer. Show them what went wrong in the beginning that dissuaded the client. Then share how you managed the situation by giving extra care and attention to the client. Your responsibility in dealing with a dissatisfied customer should be reflected clearly in your response. And you coordinated with other team to solve their concern should also be shared here.
5. Do you conduct quarterly business reviews with your customers? How do you prepare for that?
QBRs are an important task for account managers. This is the time when all the performance reviews, customer concerns, their future needs are brought out on the table. Most of the account managers do it just as a formality. But when done correctly, it can turn out to be a crucial factor for strengthening relationship with clients and helping them realize value.
Be upfront in replying to this. If you do then say yes. And if not, share it upfront along with the ways you manage to work around without it. Tell them how you structure your meeting for sharing the progress you made, the challenges you resolved and giving a space to the customer to share their concerns and future needs. And if you don’t conduct such meetings, then share other ways of unleashing and sharing this information with your clients.
6. What credit do you give to your previous organization for your own growth?
An account manager is being tested through this question about the loyalty and humility. Even though you might be leaving your current company for your future growth, your company must have given you at least some growth for the time you worked there. The hiring manager wants to know how much of a bigger picture you keep in mind while working with an organization and turn that into a symbiotic relationship.
You must show respect and obligation towards your last organization. Don’t focus too much on the factors that made you leave but the overall growth and learning you got from that organization. List out the unique characteristics you discovered in that organization and show how it helped you grow more in your career.
7. Do you want to work with well-established projects or take up the challenging projects that need a strong leadership to pull it out of the bag?
Your problem-solving attitude is being tested here. They don’t want employees to settle down with mundane and repetitive tasks only to wait for a fat compensation at the end of each month. A growth minded individual who is willing to take the company to the next level is what every hiring manager seeks.
Don’t show that you are not prepared for taking up hard challenges. On the other hand, you must also show your willingness to learn. Hence, there could two possible right answers to this:
If you want to learn about the company culture and their unique way of handling an account then you can say you want to start with an established project while stating the reason behind it and later on, as you get adept, you would like to take up more challenging projects.
If you directly want to take a stab on bigger challenges from day one and feel confident about it then show it unabashedly. Your hunger for mutual growth would always be appreciated.
8. How good are you at multi-tasking? Say handling multiple projects, clients and their expectations?
Multi-tasking is an important skill required in an account manager career path. Hence, most of the companies look for candidates who are adept in dealing with multiple projects, deadlines and clients.
To answer these kinds of account manager interview questions, you should not only tell that you are good at it but also demonstrate how. Tell them how did you use to organize your multiple projects, clients and responsibilities in the past. What kinds of tools did you use and how effective was your delegation and progress tracking of the team?
9. How effectively do you track client success? How effective is your engagement with them and how deep do you go to understand your client’s goals?
For every account manager, their success depends on their client’s success. Hence, it is paramount to show the ways you drive your clients’ success. Your dedication and perseverance to help your client succeed are being tested here.
Show the methodology you use to understand your clients’ goals before you get started with them. A data-driven engagement would something useful to mention here if you have experienced that before. Mentioning a case study of any particular client would cement your good impression here.
10. What would you do if you are running short on deadline and you have a task that you are not able to complete?
Your ability to perform in a stressful situation is something a hiring manager must be looking for here. Your resilience and strong focus on client success is an important characteristic they are looking for so that they can rely on you not just on ordinary days but also in tough situations.
Show them that you are good at coordinating with team across different departments or within your own to get things done. You can tell that you possess a good amount of emotional intelligence to communicate effectively with your and other teams and finally get the job done. Nonetheless, for the situation you exceed the deadline, your capability of communicating that to the client and helping them understand the situation should also be demonstrated here.
Top 4 Account Manager Skills
Account manager is a client-facing role. Your company depends on you to retain customers and grow their accounts. Hence, you every skill to accomplish those goals that include:
With more companies becoming customer-centric, it is important for you to help your clients succeed. And that would not be possible only through lip-service. You need to prove in terms of customer’s goals how you are able to add value through your product and service to their business. Hence, value must be demonstrated to clients from time-to-time to give them tangible assurance of your worth.
You must understand the intricacies of your as well as client’s business in and out. Only then would you be in a position to drive negotiations for your business. You have to be fair to both sides in terms of give and take while growing revenues for your company. Hence, a fair amount of judgement of the price and efforts required for your service should be there and communicated with clear rationales.
Account manager’s key responsibilities need an internal as well as cross-functional teams to work with. Your client’s service may depend on various needs that can either be fulfilled by your team or other teams. Hence, you need a strong leadership skill to get things done and people must respect you for what you are as a person rather than a title.
Industry or domain knowledge
You must keep a fair amount of knowledge of your client’s industry. And when it comes to your own industry, you should be invincible. There would be many situations when your client needs your expert opinions where a good understanding of their domain and how your company can add value into it would be necessary.
Account Manager Career Path
Account management is a door to many lucrative career paths that you can choose based on your skills and inclinations. They are:
Key Account Manager
This is one level right above a regular account manager. Key account manager is given the responsibility of serving high-value enterprise customers. The projects and service for such clients goes on for months and years. Hence, the depth of knowledge and expertise a KAM gains by serving such clients make them an irreplaceable asset for their organization.
If you are more interested in sales-related operations of account management and are good at negotiation and demonstrating value then you must consider this path. You can shift to the sales department taking a corresponding level of role as your current one. You may start with the regional sales manager then grow to national and further to becoming a director or VP of Sales.
When understanding client’s domain and business intricacies fascinate you, then you must consider going into a business development role. This would require a deeper understanding of the business, its challenges and the possible solutions you can provide. You may start with a business development manager role and later move up the ladder to the director or senior marketing and sales positions.
Apart from these account manager interview questions, the hiring managers would also notice your communication skills and presentability. Since the role of account manager corresponds to someone who would always act as a face of the organization, the soft skills are equally important. Not to miss the problem-solving attitude which, no doubt, is the core competency of any aspiring account manager.
Whether you are an account manager dedicated to a single customer account or more, you need to prioritize your responsibilities. This prioritization must happen keeping both, the company’s as well as the customer’s, interests in alignment. SaaS companies have increasingly realized that until you help your customers succeed, your own success will not be achievable.
Shoeb lives and breathes Customer Success and SaaS. He has a passion to research on the latest innovations happening in SaaS and Customer Success. Shoeb hails from a Software Architecture background where he worked for many years with Indian Tech Giants like Wipro and ITC building software solutions for their MNC clients in the UK and Denmark. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.