All too often, we define ‘effective’ account managers by their ability to manage teams, pay attention to detail, and make the numbers work. But, while these skills are entirely necessary, in this day and age they’re just the norm. In order to be successful in the modern digital landscape, an account manager needs to go above and beyond expectations.
This means embracing a proactive approach to client management to maximise an account’s current and future potential. Account managers need to be one step ahead, have an overarching awareness of the opportunities available, and monitor any threats that could impact a client’s success.
There are three questions you should be asking yourself when evaluating yourself as an account manager:
Do you actually know your client?
What are their business objectives and the goals of key stakeholders within the business? And how does your agency’s work help them achieve these goals? Knowing these things are imperative to building a successful relationship and delivering the results they need.
Beyond being beneficial from a strategic standpoint for the client, having this background knowledge will ensure that you are the ‘go to’ person for team members within your agency, so you can assist and advise from a point of authority.
This insight will also support your position in all recommendations you put forward to your client, as you can ensure they align with the wider business’s strategic approach.
So, how can you get to know them?
Through onboarding sessions! These sessions are incredibly valuable, as they can provide you with detailed insight into the structure of your client’s business, how they work, and what they want to achieve.
Our guide to making the most out of your onboarding session will show you how to gain as much information as possible from your client in terms of the background of their business, their objectives, and who is going to be involved. Knowing these things will help you learn how to find resolutions to issues that they currently have or may encounter in the future.
Once you have completed your onboarding session and know all that you need to know, that’s your job done, right?
No – in fact it’s the opposite. Throughout the project, nurturing your client relationship must be one of your priorities. Developing a communications strategy creates a structured plan for regular contact through weekly updates and progress and review meetings. Maintain an ongoing dialogue to gain updates about things that could impact future tasks or the direction of the strategy.
Do you understand their industry or sector?
The onboarding session will have given you insight into your client and their current position in their market. However, you need to understand the factors within their sector and the competitive environment that they operate within.
Conducting SWOT analysis evaluates the performance of your client and the work you have conducted against KPIs. It will help you evaluate the working relationship between them and your agency, and identify areas of opportunity as well as possible threats. This will provide strategic direction and support in updating any project roadmaps that are in place, either as a proactive or reactive method.
Having an awareness of the wider sector, including things like public policy, current affairs, and the economy, will give you deeper insight, so you can spot any potential opportunities or threats to a project’s success. This is where your proactive approach to account governance will take you above competitors and other agencies that your client may be working with.
Are you an expert in your industry?
There is a reason that your client has hired your agency, and therefore you as an account manager. Being an expert in your own industry is key to providing your client with strategic insight into how they can progress and maximise their return on investment.
Keeping up to date with changes in your own industry will provide you with expertise that the client may not possess, while also supporting the recommendations made by your agency. This expertise will help you communicate how specific tasks will impact their business and how the strategy can be adapted to respond.
To keep up to date on your industry:
- Read industry blogs or press articles related to your industry or sector
- Attend industry-related conferences
- Attain further industry experience or qualifications (Google Adwords and Analytics Qualifications are two of the numerous training courses that are valuable for account managers working in SEO)
Through answering each of the questions above, you will be able to assess your approach to account management so you can maximise your client’s success and improve your performance as an account manager.