What is an Account Manager?

by Regan & Dean

If you’ve ever seen the position of Account Manager advertised and wondered what it entails then this is the blog for you. Even experienced professionals can be confused by the term because, although it’s a job title commonly used in both events and marketing agencies, it can mean different things in different organisations.

What follows should be seen as the common components of an Account Manager role, but if you are interested in applying for such a position, always check the job description with particular care to see what the specific employer includes.

That caveat in place, Account Manager roles will normally involve a balance between acting as a client’s key contact point and managing the delivery of their project or service.

At one end of this continuum the role might have a significant element of sales and business development, while at the other it is a project management role with a large degree of client liaison and communicating their needs to the delivery team - or doing it yourself!

A critical driver of where a role sits on this continuum is often the size of the marketing or events agency.

A large agency, for instance, will often have a dedicated account management team that focuses purely on finding and building new relationships with prospects, and nurturing relationships with existing contacts and clients. Indeed, in some firms the role is labelled Client Services Manager or Business Relationship Manager (or Executive).

Once the pitch is won and the sale is secured, the role largely becomes one of ensuring the client feels informed, happy with progress and that the project is being delivered to timescales, budget and quality standards, plus looking for ‘sell on’ opportunities and other ways to assist the client. The project is normally handed over to a delivery team that takes care of actually making the event or project happen.

In a smaller agency, however, the Account Manager role is more likely to blend client contact with lots of hands-on project management and the actual delivery of the event or campaign as well.

What is clear is that wherever the role sits on the ‘Account Management’ continuum, there will always be a degree of client contact.

And that requires a particular set of skills.

What skills are important for an account manager in a marketing or events agency?

You’ll appreciate that in this role you have to be a communicator, an organiser and, perhaps more than anything, a diplomat!

At Regan & Dean, we deal with lots of event and marketing job briefs from our varied clients - and the following are the sort of skills you’ll need to be a great - and ‘in demand’ - Account Manager:

  • The ability to get to grips rapidly with the client’s business and objectives. The more client-focused the role is the more in-depth this understanding needs to be - their sector, competition, key business challenges etc.
  • The ability to take a brief comprehensively and accurately and share it with colleagues clearly and concisely.
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills - noting that communication is a two-way process and listening is an essential skill.
  • Negotiation and supplier/internal team management skills to ensure the client gets the project delivered to the agreed objectives, standards, budget and timescale.
  • Time management and project management skills.
  • An eye for detail - from proofreading to budget control.
  • Able to present well and persuade internal and external audiences.
  • Selling and business development skills.
  • Ability to strike the right balance between the needs of the agency and the demands of the clients.
  • Responsive, resilient and flexible.
  • Finely-honed customer service skills. Diplomacy!
  • Ability to research and assimilate knowledge and share it with clients and colleagues.
  • A problem solver and troubleshooter - able to recognise where your product or service can solve a genuine need (rather than trying to sell a solution to a problem that does not exist!)
  • Plus a natural curiosity, excellent interpersonal skills and a genuine interest in helping others achieve their objectives. 

Interested? Keep your eyes open for Account Manager roles by subscribing to our Job Alerts here.

NB if you are looking for an Account Manager position, also make sure you look out for other role titles that might be relevant for you - in particular the formal titles of Event Manager and Project Manager can also give you the mix of role responsibilities and client contact you are looking for.