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What does an account manager do? Job description, salary and more

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This article has been vetted by University of Phoenix's editorial advisory committee. 
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Kathryn Uhles, MIS, MSP, Dean, College of Business and IT

This article was updated on 12/4/2023.
 

At a glance

  • An account manager establishes and builds on the relationship between a company and client. The relationship often results in sales for the company and value for the client. Account managers work in a variety of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, technology and retail.
  • A bachelor’s degree in business or a related field is typically required to become an account manager, although qualifications can vary by role and employer.
  • Learning fundamental business skills can help set you on a path toward becoming an account manager, and University of Phoenix can help. Learn more about the Bachelor of Science in Business program, which offers a core foundation in business concepts and the ability to enhance studies in entrepreneurship, analytics and leadership!

What is an account manager?

An account manager is an advocate for customers. However, this role involves more than relaying clients’ needs to other departments within the company. Account managers are also an integral part of sales and marketing operations.

In most industries, businesses have a 60% to 70% chance of selling to existing clients. This is the bread and butter of a company, and account managers make it happen.

Account managers are responsible for forging connections and marketing products and services to their clients to build a profitable, ongoing relationship. This involves an element of customer service along with many other responsibilities we’ll dive into below.  

Learn in-demand business skills with a Bachelor of Science in Business. 

A closer look at account managers

 The primary goal of an account manager is to maintain or improve relationships with existing customers or vendors who help service accounts.

This can sound subjective, but it often boils down to being able to meet customers’ expectations, listen to their needs, solve their problems and communicate issues with others within the company.

Account managers are usually entry or mid-level employees. Because of the importance of customer relationships in every business, applicants for the role of account manager may benefit from key academic qualifications, such as a bachelor’s degree in business, finance or communication.

Account executive vs. account manager

 If an account manager is meant to maintain and enhance an existing customer relationship, the question arises: Where do those relationships originate? That’s where an account executive enters the picture.

An account executive is typically in charge of finding new contacts and customers. Once an account executive nurtures a new contact to become a new customer, the customer is introduced to the account manager. An account manager’s job is to balance customer service, sales, process management and relationship building to create a seamless customer experience.

Account executives also take a big-picture look at how each relationship — whether it’s their own or another team member’s — to ensure their teams are meeting quotas, staying within budget and meeting goals. Essentially, the executive’s role typically holds more responsibility.

Account manager responsibilities

 Responsibilities of an account manager

Account managers’ responsibilities can vary by industry, but there are certain duties that transcend organizations and sectors. These are:

  • Client communication: Perhaps the most important aspect of customer relationship management (CRM), client communication involves acting as a liaison between the company and the customer. It also requires understanding each client’s unique needs and using that knowledge to provide personalized services or offers.
  • Sales: An account manager marketa new products or services based on clients’ needs and purchase history. In some instances, account managers work with other departments to make offers tailored specifically to a client’s individual account.
  • Maintaining sales quotas: In some industries, the primary goal of account managers is to ensure clients continue to order products or services at a defined level.
  • Problem-solving: Whether working with customers or suppliers, account managers are ultimately responsible for addressing issues when they arise and ensuring they do not alter or derail the relationship with an account holder.
  • Data collection and analysis: In addition to collecting information on a client’s purchases, activities and interests, an account manager needs the skill to analyze data to find insights that can inform decisions, communication, marketing plans or customized offers.

The job duties of an account manager also include keeping up with industry trends, regulations and changes so that they can effectively understand and communicate with clients. 

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Industries that employ account managers

Account managers work in various sectors. This is good news for aspiring account managers: It means you can explore other interests in a role that combines business skills with those of other industries. Consider the following sectors, for example, where account managers play a pivotal role.

Healthcare

Healthcare account managers often focus on administrative aspects. For example, professionals in this role may work with insurance providers to ensure that patients’ procedures are covered and to make corrections to billing or coding documents if needed.

Though healthcare account managers do not provide medical treatment, they need to understand healthcare processes and terminology. A healthcare-related degree can help you acquire knowledge to launch a career in this profession.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing account managers might work in supplier- or client-facing positions. Account managers who work with suppliers rely heavily on communication skills to negotiate prices, manage supply chain functions and ensure the company gets the quality materials it needs from suppliers.

Client-facing account managers work with customers to ensure that manufactured products meet their needs and expectations, market new products and alert manufacturing managers about upcoming orders from clients. 

Technology

IT and software development companies employ account managers to act as liaisons between developers and IT service providers and their clients. In addition to the sales and relationship-building aspects of the job, tech account managers often provide project updates to clients. They then work with development teams to ensure that problems are addressed.

Also, account managers in this industry play an important role in troubleshooting customer and account issues. They may be responsible for addressing billing issues, changing account details and more.

Retail

Retail account managers work for product producers or wholesalers and help retailers sell their products online or in stores. In addition to helping retailers select products and manage inventory, account managers may arrange training for sales staff or provide information about the products.

Account managers might also engage in strategic planning and analysis of a retailer's market and clientele to help with sales efforts.

Government

Account managers in government agencies are often more focused on budgets and negotiations. In this position, account managers oversee relationships with contractors, ensuring they understand project requirements and deliver work or products that meet quality standards and comply with regulations.

Qualifications to become an account manager

Account managers typically benefit from a bachelor’s degree and technical skills relevant to their industry. However, some requirements are the same across all industries. These are:

  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • The ability to nurture and maintain relationships
  • Analytical skills
  • Industry-specific account management proficiencies

These abilities come from both experience and your academic career. 

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Education requirements for account managers

Account managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration, sales, marketing or a related field. A relevant master’s degree may be required to move up in a field.

Technical skills for a career in account management

While communication and relationship-building are essential for account management professionals, technical abilities are also vital. For example, a grasp of budgeting and accounting principles is necessary for many account management jobs, as is an understanding of data analysis principles, strategic planning abilities and knowledge of the technical aspects of your industry.

Business programs at University of Phoenix

Account managers rely on a number of skills in their day-to-day roles. Some of these, like communication, management, operations and leadership, are taught in the Bachelor of Science in Business degree program at University of Phoenix.

While the University cannot guarantee the job outcome of account manager, it can teach necessary skills like these and others used in this role, including:

  • How to leverage decision-making skills to address business needs
  • How to integrate business concepts and principles to advance organizational goals
  • How to analyze interrelationships among distinct functional areas of an organization
  • How to analyze logistics involved in global business operations

Learn more about business degrees at University of Phoenix and how they can help you reach your educational goals!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Feder is a content marketing specialist at University of Phoenix, where he researches and writes on a variety of topics, ranging from healthcare to IT. He is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars program and a New Jersey native!

 

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