Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Account Management or how to be a great Account Manager

This article is part of my presentation and training I do for account managers. So let’s dive into the deep immediately.

Account Manager – Primary goals

Your two main primary goals are happy customers and completed customers projects in that particular order. Happy customers are extremely important, because even if you deliver a perfect project when the customer is not happy for any particular reason he/she is not going to form a long-lasting relationship with your company.

Top 5 Account Management rules

- Plan, Plan, Plan.
The account manager needs to plan the execution of the project (even before the first call with the customer). Also he/she needs to plan some back-up scenarios if something goes wrong. This way the account manager ensures the smooth execution of the project.

- Befriend your customer and keep close distance.
Customer who is your friend will collaborate and thus support you to finish the project.

- Create timeline/strategy and also deadlines including the tasks for the customer.
Part of account manager's planning is a checklist/task-list and timeline of the project itself.

- Create the project specifications document and send for development.
Once the account manager has enough information about the project he/she should elaborate the project specifications and send the project into design and/or development stage.

- Keep track of the Project history into Task/Projects list and CRM system.
It is mandatory for the account manager to keep record of the Project history for his/hers reference and also to generate reports for the customer and the superiors.

Top 5 Account Management mistakes

- Do not call back or return e-mails back to the customer.
The account manager should always call back and return e-mails to the customer. This is the way to establish a good connection between both of the parties.

- Do not plan. Just wait for the things to happen all by themselves. Do not take ownership of the project.
Half of the account management duties are concerned with planning… the other half is managing customers :).

- Do not inform the customer regularly for the execution of their project.
The customer should always be informed about how the project goes. And it is important to inform the customer even when there are only good news.

- Often go above the terms in the contract to make the customer happy.
A situation like this will happen to the account manager sooner or later. All additional work the customer is requesting should be discussed with supervisor and then it should be decided if the work should be done at no additional cost.

- Store negative emotions. Forget that this is just a business.
Sometimes everything goes wrong and the customer is very unhappy. At this point the customer is sometimes mean or very harsh with the account manager. But the account manager should always remember that it is just a business, and should not take it personally.

Top 5 Account Management challenges

- Ignorant/indifferent customers.
Ignorant customers who are ready to learn are not a problem, but indifferent customers who do not support the project and do not provide the materials/information on their end may even fail the project.

- Wrong rough estimation of the project.
That’s a very bad situation for the account manager when it happens. Usually this should be escalated immediately and the project should be returned to sales to be estimated and sold properly.

- Delays in the design and development of the product/project.
This could always happen. Though, a good account manager should have planned some additional time in the project/account plan to ensure some time shifts are possible.

- Major changes after the project is released live.
The customer just got his/hers project live and realized that’s not what they wanted. If the changes are significant, the issue should be escalated by the account manager and a decision should be made by a superior.

- Clients/Projects that are just too much pain in the ass.
We all know those kinds of people that would do anything to ruin our day. But it is even worse for the account manager to have such a customer because he/she needs to complete the project. As always stay professional and avoid any confrontations and pointless chat with the customer – just stay focused on finishing the project.

Top 5 Account Management advantages

- The complete project happens with the account manager.
It is fantastic to see how a piece of paper (contract) turns into a real, finished and great product. It is even better when the account manager knows he/she is the person, mainly responsible for this transformation.

- Account managers create connections.
Many customers + many projects = many connections. If the customers are happy with the account manager’s work they could help advancing his/hers career and also they could be useful in many other situations.

- Every new customer/project is a new challenge.
And new challenges are great and always welcomed.

- Developing many skills.
The account managers need to have knowledge and skills in everything – design, programming, plans, marketing, seo, communications, leadership, etc… It is great to be a good “jack of all trades”.

- Account managers are better looking than the rest of the team.
It is simply a fact :)

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