The (not so) subtle art of account management.

If you’re a client, you may wonder: “what does my account manager do all day, and how are they so good at it?” 😉 If you’re a marketing agency employee, you could be thinking: “how do account managers spend all day effortlessly fielding clients with a smile?”

Here’s the reality: there’s no short answer. In fact, at TJA, us account managers prefer to think of our craft as an art, not a science—kind of like cooking (we had to bring food into this somehow, right?).

Follow along as we break down what makes our account managers successful and outline some tips to help your clients. These are in no particular order, but we certainly have our favorites sprinkled throughout.

1. We understand our client’s business and needs.
The job of an account manager is to fully understand the client’s goals, business objectives and industry as a whole. Think about being an extension of their team. What makes a great account manager is one who puts themselves in their clients’ shoes to comprehend the pressures and everyday challenges they face.

It’s safe to say that we can’t know every detail about every business—we aren’t experts of hotel management, children’s healthcare or college football—but that’s why being able to ask the right questions and do our own research is key understanding any client.

Here are a few ways you can stay in the know with clients and their business:

  • Set up Google alerts to stay in the loop
  • Sign up for their newsletters
  • Connect with them on LinkedIn (not just our client contact, but other stakeholders as well)
  • Keep tabs on what competitors are doing
  • Ask the right questions and checking in to see how they’re feeling
  • It’s more than saying “Hey, how are you doing?” It’s a deep dive into how they feel the engagement is going, if they feel fully supported, and if anything can be improved.

 

 

2. We support what our clients say
Our job is to see projects from start to finish, making sure the client is heard and understood. This builds trust and keeps the momentum strong.

Want to support your clients the right way? Try these tips out: 

  • Keep the agency accountable to delivering high-quality work
  • Consistently show up with a positive mindset
  • Communicate with transparency, even during tough times
  • Follow through on action items from previous discussions

 

3. We strengthen client relationships.
Like any relationship, it takes two to tango, so we do our best to make sure we’re doing our part to maintain a positive and tangibly beneficial atmosphere in every engagement.

Here are a few you can practice building strong relationships with our clients:

  • Keep an open line of communication for feedback and critique
  • Follow through on promises
  • Show up to every interaction with confidence
  • Identify ways to show value beyond the tangible deliverables
  • Get to know them on a personal level through lunches, small gestures and happy hours

 

4. We know how to show value.
Benefiting our clients early in every engagement is crucial. The last thing we want to do is have our first meeting with a new client and set the date for the next meeting, then let them suffer in radio silence for weeks. We bring our clients on the journey with us, every step of the way! We ask clarifying questions, seek their opinions and share relevant information like updates and milestones.

Here are a few other ways you can show value early in your partnerships:

  • Share relevant articles and personal points of view that supports the WHY behind your work
  • Follow through on promises
  • Give sneak peeks of what your team is working on
  • Go over the timeline and the specifics of the scope of work to create alignment
  • Focus on generating small wins like identifying opportunities, social channels and other items they’ve shared with you
  • Continue to ask questions and learn about the business

 

5. We can read a room.
Knowing how to lead a meeting is one thing, but being able to adjust and adapt based on the conversation is another. We can pick up on a client’s body language or tone to know if the meeting can stay on course, or if we need to pivot.

If we notice the temperature of a meeting shift, taking a quick break or making a note to follow up with the client afterwards can help establish a strong relationship.


6. We’re flexible and adaptable.
Have you heard the saying: “change is inevitable, suffering is optional”? This couldn’t be more true for account managers. As much as we hate to admit it, we can’t control everything. How we react to shifts in clients, projects and timelines is what determines our success moving forward. That ability to maintain focus in accordance with an organization’s changing priorities is key.


7. We plan ahead (as much as possible).
Time management and proactive planning are critical. This means being one step ahead of our clients, focusing on the end result and how we can get there, as well as being ready to pivot if something isn’t working.

At TJA, we take serious pride in our ability to forecast the future. Here are a few tricks you can use daily to keep you and your team on track:

  • Schedule meetings in advance with prepared agendas
  • Keep the bigger picture top of mind (details are important, but needle-moving is the goal)
  • Anticipate opportunities and challenges before your clients experience them

 

8. We listen.
If this list was in order of importance, this one’s in the top three. Active listening is key, since it’s our job to collect vital information, connect with clients and completely understand next steps.

Looking for ways to improve your comprehension skills? LAER, a sales objections model and time-tested framework, is a proven technique to fully digest a speaker’s words before responding. The L-A-E-R framework is typically used for sales teams in handling challenging sales objections however has proven to be successful in just about any conversation.

  • L – Listen: Actively hearing what someone is saying
  • A – Acknowledge: Acknowledging that you understand their objections
  • E – Explore: Exploring deeper what pain they envision that’s driving that objection
  • R – Respond: When you fully understand the pain, respond

*   *   *

We hope these tips on what make an account manager successful were helpful! If you aren’t one of our clients yet, maybe you’re thinking: “Wow, my business could use that TJA magic.” If you’re a prospective employee, maybe you’re feeling even more excited to apply!

Either way, let’s get in touch– we’d love to support you and your goals. Plus, we want to see you at happy hour.

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Veronique James

Founder/CEOs

Veronique founded The James Agency (TJA) in 2005 with the goal of creating an agency focused on open communication and transparency with clients and employees. Today, the award-winning, integrated agency specializes in consumer advertising, public relations and digital and continues to exemplify Veronique’s original vision.

Veronique and her team collaborate to produce creatively-fueled, results-driven campaigns that help clients achieve their goals and positively impact their bottom line. Under Veronique’s direction, TJA has been honored with numerous industry and culture awards, including being named to the Inc. 5000 and Entrepreneur Top Company Cultures lists.

Actively involved in the community, Veronique is currently a member of Entrepreneur’s Organization, Arizona Chapter. She served as the organization’s third female president in 2017/2018. She has received numerous accolades for her leadership, entrepreneurship and community involvement.

Veronique is originally from Southern California and graduated with a BFA in Visual Communication from the University of Arizona.

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