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What is Account Management and Why Is It Key to Success?

Account managers have many important responsibilities. Here’s how to make the most of this crucial client-facing role.

By Jane Godiner  •   January 9, 2024  •   7 min read

At any organization, it’s no secret that your clients’ support is key. An account manager builds and maintains this support so that everyone else on the team can focus on the work itself. From taking frequent client temperature checks to securing revenue for the upcoming quarter, a good account manager can be a game-changer. 

Whether you’re an account manager already or you’re looking to get there someday, it’s always important to know the ins and outs of this role. Keep reading to learn about the roles and responsibilities related to account management—and for some of the best account management tips and tricks.

What is account management? 

Account management is the process of keeping tabs on your client relationships. It often takes skill—and strategy—to keep these relationships strong, but it’s well worth your while. After all, great client relationships are key to success. 

As an account manager, you’ll build client relationships externally and develop plans internally to ensure the best possible customer experience. The more you focus on building trust with clients, the stronger your organization’s reputation will grow. And when it comes to your bottom line, a positive image can make all the difference.

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Why is account management important? 

Below are some of the biggest benefits of your account management work.

  • Define customer expectations. Building relationships with your customer base gives you the opportunity to ask key stakeholders what your team can do to improve their experience. You can then tailor your products or services to meet their needs.
  • Get income assurance. Your role will involve using account data and customer communication to secure revenue commitment from your clients. With these commitments, you and your team can get a better picture of your available income. This can lead to smarter spending decisions both now and in the long run.
  • Enhance performance assessment. With a strong understanding of your client’s expectations, you can work with your team lead to set up effective performance evaluation standards. Your team can then make targeted improvements to maximize their chances of hitting the mark.
  • Spot emerging possibilities. As you keep track of client data, you’ll likely spot when and where your team can make changes that benefit the account. For example, you might speak with clients and take meeting notes on new client investments, rebrandings, or revised workflows. These are all opportunities to shift your team’s work to accommodate your clients’ new direction and maximize satisfaction.

Account manager responsibilities 

The following are what you’ll do day in and day out as an account manager.

Check the pulse

You’ll constantly engage with clients, whether you’re checking in on shifting expectations or communicating your team’s changing capacity. In frequently checking the pulse of your customer relationships, you get everything you need to keep your team informed and high-performing. Your team can then make any adjustments necessary to keep your client relationships as strong as possible.

Forge connections

The more work you put into building client relationships, the more you establish enduring connections with each customer. These connections, based on trust and mutually beneficial interactions, can ensure client communications flow perfectly to your team members. That, of course, leads to better work outcomes for everyone.

Be the liaison

You’ll be the initial point of contact for all internal and external questions pertaining to customer accounts. If a team member wants to know what a client expects on a deliverable, they’ll go to you. Similarly, if your client has feedback for your team, they’ll bring it to you.

Keep things going

Whether you’re overseeing customer accounts or holding client meetings, your goal is to keep the ball rolling. For example, amid the contract negotiation process or during a client feedback session, all eyes are on you to keep things running smoothly. 

Account management vs. sales 

It’s easy to confuse the role of an account manager with that of a good sales department, but there are distinctions. For instance, someone working in sales is focused on immediate customer acquisition, while an account manager aims to build longer-term relationships. 

On one hand, in account management, you’ll be more selective with how and with whom you invest your time since you’re looking at the bigger picture. On the other hand, salespeople are looking to sell as many products and services as possible—a different game altogether. Think about it like this: After a sales team member secures a client, they’ll hand the client to you, and you’ll handle everything thereafter.

Top 4 skills you need as an account manager 

Below are the key account management skills for taking your role to the next level.

Be a people person

If you’re going to be at the front end of interacting with clients, strong communication skills are a must. You should be comfortable commanding a room, whether you’re in a customer meeting or an internal huddle with your team. 

When there are hiccups in your client management process, you should remain graceful under pressure. You’ll also need to know how to put your team and customers at ease. If these skills come naturally to you, you’ll be a top-notch account manager. 

Use time wisely

Your clients’ and team members’ time is valuable—you’ll need to make the most of it with strong time management skills as you manage accounts. Whether you’re holding meetings or problem-solving independently, it’s important to stay on track and keep things moving. The more efficiently you work, the more you can impress your clients, keep your team happy, and explore new opportunities involving both.

Get organized

Good organization skills are at the heart of countless leadership positions, and account management is no exception. After all, key internal and external players will look to you for guidance, and you’ll juggle a wide range of daily tasks. Keeping your ducks in a row is thus paramount.

Stay trustworthy 

Trust is one of the biggest factors in any working relationship—a key indicator of strong client interaction skills is staying transparent with your customers. By staying clear on your promises and delivering on them, you build trust with your clients and secure their business for years to come.

Strategic account management best practices 

The following are some of the most effective ways to develop an effective strategic account management program.

Know your customers

By building a profile for each of your clients, you’ll find it easier to keep track of their needs. A strong customer profile will include information on a client’s long-term goals, key markets, and notable competitors. Review your client’s profile—which will change often—with your team to find a strategic way forward.

With a tool like Fellow, you can create accurate records of your clients and all pertinent information. With Fellow’s powerful search and tagging functionality, you can search through meeting transcripts, notes, and tags easily and lock notes to prevent changes to recorded decisions.

Assess what’s needed

Sometimes a client might know their biggest challenges but not yet how to solve them. That’s where you come into play with a needs assessment—an account management tool that helps your team determine how best to support a client. You’ll build a long-term plan to serve your client and grow your organization alongside theirs.

Set clear standards

There’s a difference between a good customer and a highly valuable long-term account, and it’s on you to make that distinction. Establish selection criteria for key accounts so that you put the right amounts of effort into working for high-value and lower-value clients. These criteria might range from a client’s revenue potential to their current business relationships. It’s up to you to call those shots.

Keep an eye on performance

To be the best possible client relations manager, keep tabs on your team’s performance. Your clients’ needs are ever-changing, and if your team is struggling to keep up, you want to spot this sooner rather than later. Monitoring your team’s performance will give you a sense of whether your clients are delivering on their side, too. A good client relationship is a two-way street—you both give and you both get.

Stay consistent

Once you’ve created a strategic account management plan for a client, you should follow up regularly and make adjustments as needed. Creating a regular communication schedule with your clients will help you stay on top of their needs—and help your team keep delivering on them.

Run efficient meetings with Fellow

Whether you’re new to account management or you’re looking to strengthen your skills, Fellow’s meeting management software can take you to the next level. With Fellow’s AI meeting summaries and AI meeting transcriptions, you can easily retrieve information from client meetings and use it to find solutions. Fellow’s meeting templates for running productive customer pulse checks, performance review debriefs, and decision-making meetings can further power your best account management. Your clients—and your team—will be grateful!

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