As the link between the agency and the client, at the heart of any account management role is building and maintaining relationships.
At the more junior level, your role is to manage the work through your agency, making sure everything goes when and as it should. With more seniority, there is more ownership of campaigns or projects. In the more senior positions, you will typically take overall responsibility for the account’s marketability.
In addition to the skills taught, account managers need softer, almost instinctive skills, such as:
- Building relationships: Most important is the need to quickly build trust; whether with clients, colleagues or partners.
- Customer management: You will need to develop an understanding of your client’s business, its goals, and how the agency can best help achieve those goals.
- Business knowledge: Is it viable to create this work at this price? Will it give the agency funds, fame or fun?
- Diplomacy: You might be telling a client that their budget needs to be doubled to get the results they need. Or let your colleagues know that the client had to change the brief, and now you have to complete eight months of work in eight weeks.
Some senior industry executives have kindly shared with us the skills they look for in account managers.
Zoe Crowther, Managing Partner, Red Brick Road, says:
I believe that big accounts are and always have been big problem solvers. Of course, the types of problems vary with experience; from the smooth running of a small production project to the creation of new operating models and working methods adapted to changing customer needs. Tenacity, positivity, empathy and entrepreneurship are essential to this “problem solving” mindset.
If Nilesha Chauvet, CEO of GOOD Agency, goes further:
Account management is all about building strong relationships with clients and getting the best job possible. To do this, the qualities I look for in a senior person are still the same now that they always have been.
- communication skills must be clear, precise, succinct and well-established.
- A spark of passion and an infectious personality that clients and colleagues will want to spend time with.
- Intelligence and evidence of diverse, solution-oriented thinking.
- We creative and commercial, signs of entrepreneurship – the thirst to make things happen and get things done.
- Wide arms for lifting heavy loads and to juggle complex projects – the right accounts do.
- These softer and more refined skills involving collaboration with others. Because everyone knows it’s not an industry for solo artists. It takes a team to make things work.
“And now of course everyone wants to change the world”, adds Chauvet. “So inevitably I’m looking for those who genuinely care about those who just say they do. Those who really want to make a positive difference.
As much of the account management role acts as a hub between colleagues and clients, we wanted to hear from other departments as well.
Dean Lanzman is Data Manager at MullenLowe Profero. He suggests that a good account manager should be:
- Challenge my work. Apply their growing knowledge of the account, the client, the vision, the results and the client to objectively challenge my work to make it better.
- A calculated risk taker. Recognize the fundamental strength of an idea and fully support it emotionally and practically.
- Operationally on it. Unperturbed by constantly staying close to detail.
Lottie Tonks, Senior Account Manager, Iris Worldwide
The perspective of an account manager
Lottie Tonks is a Senior Account Manager at Iris Worldwide. Whether it’s putting together creative toolkits and briefs, photoshoots and client presentations, her workday is always varied. She tells us here what she likes most about her role:
Creative presentations are a really exciting part of the job because you start to see the ideas come to life. Another big part of the job is taking pictures and having the opportunity to work on them. Typically, on set you will be responsible for getting the client to sign the wardrobe, settings, and shots. It is essential to keep track of the list of plans and to make sure that the client reviews and is satisfied with everything. Filming is one of the best chances to continue to build relationships with customers.
Her top tips for success in the role include:
- Throughout the day, it’s important to stay on top of your inbox.
- Be flexible to jump on anything that might arise, like pulling together the work clients share with markets and agencies, so that all parties are always up to date with creative work and production.
- It is important to be organized and to ensure that calls with clients and internal briefings are booked.
While a degree was previously considered the norm for account managers, more recently expectations have changed dramatically. For entry-level positions, hiring managers focus much more on personality traits and soft skills than education.
True, account managers are generally expected to have a formal qualification in marketing. Over the years, we have represented candidates who have studied law, politics, chemistry, sports science and geography (to name a few).
– David Love, founding partner, The Great & The Good
Some agencies will offer sponsorship of formal qualifications from professional bodies such as a CIM or IDM qualification. While this training (and the network of contacts you can train) is helpful, agencies rarely stipulate these qualifications as a prerequisite.
Over the years, we have spoken to account managers from a variety of backgrounds. Some experience of supervising a group of people to make a project successful is always helpful, but overall for entry-level positions personality will go a long way.
Rebecca Dennis, Client Partner, WBA Partnership, VMLY & R, has had great success in hiring junior candidates who have experience working in busy bars. Typically, these roles require a combination of positivity, resilience, and teamwork – all ideal traits for an account manager.
As roles get higher, most hiring managers usually look for account managers who have experience in the role. Most of the account managers we work with have gone from account managers to AD to account manager roles.
However, it is not uncommon for marketing executives, managers and directors to move to comparable roles within agency customer service teams.
Account management salaries can fall into fairly wide ranges depending on location, type of job and accounts.
Most London-based account manager positions in generalist and integrated agencies will have a starting salary of around £ 20,000 to £ 25,000 per year. Annual salaries are then around £ 30-40,000 for account managers, £ 50,000-60,000 for account managers and £ 80,000 and over for sales managers.
Depending on the agency, standard benefits may include private health insurance, gym membership, bike-to-work programs, and subscription loans. Agencies are often very generous with their milder perks – breakfast is usually provided, plenty of corporate social events, summer and / or Christmas parties, a culture of mentoring, etc.
Most agencies work around 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. However, the nature of an agency is such that sometimes long hours are required – when a pitch is launched or a campaign deadline is fast approaching. At these times it may be necessary to work late at night and on weekends.
On the other hand, since agencies are generally less corporate than other businesses, they are often a bit more relaxed about the fact that office hours are a hard and fast rule every day.
Many agencies will also have reduced hours in the summer, close completely for the Christmas period, and offer extra days off for birthdays, moves and other similar events. It is not uncommon to see paid sabbaticals offered to recognize long service as well.
In recent years, we have also seen more flexibility regarding the needs of returning mothers and, increasingly, of fathers.
The structure of a classic account management team reflects the natural progression and greater responsibility you will take on as you progress.
Account managers are largely focused on administering and supporting the campaign, while learning the ropes of agency living.
Account managers take more of a leadership role on specific campaigns or projects, be the daily contact with all those involved (customers, creatives, strategists, suppliers, partners) and ensure that the planned deadlines and budget are respected.
Account managers have more responsibility for account management, strategy and advertising. As an AD, you will be responsible for the day-to-day relationship with the client and will therefore be responsible not only for specific campaigns, but the entire account as well. This could be a stand-alone client or a division of a larger company.
Company directors deal with a big deal or a set of accounts. Comics typically work with the client’s board of directors and most marketing managers.
The next step in a career in account management will depend on you and your passions: take on a more pastoral role as a department head or focus on the client leadership aspects of the position and become a managing partner who manages a business. important business. In most agencies, the managing director and CEO have also typically gone through the route of account management.
Over the years we have seen Account Managers evolve into new sales teams, strategic roles, data management and production / project. Others choose to bring their knowledge to the brand’s own teams or to leave the marketing industry completely and rely on some of their skills to become teachers, entrepreneurs or even recruiters!
– David Love, Founding Partner, The Great & The Good
One of the perks of a career in account management is that the role naturally involves you interacting with just about every other department. Plus, you cover a wide range of responsibilities, so get the chance to understand a wide variety of roles.