If you've got 2020 tagged as the year when your career in account management will hit the next level, you need to be ready to prove your value to clients and seize business opportunities whenever they come along.
Having the following skills in your locker will help you achieve these goals and make yourself a vital asset to any company this year:
1. Having a vision
Clients want to know that you're interested in more than simply keeping them onboard and doing the minimum amount of work required to keep them moderately happy. They want to know that you have a vision and a plan for how their business can evolve and move forward, and how you can help them achieve their goals.
Looking to the future and being proactive in anticipating future opportunities and challenges for your clients will demonstrate your commitment to them and drive them to higher levels of success.
2. Commercial understanding
To do the best job for your clients, you need to have enough commercial knowledge and acumen to really understand their business and its needs. If you're fully engaged with your client's organizational goals and priorities, you can help them make better decisions.
One way to improve your commercial awareness is to study your client's competitors, to see where they’ve succeeded, where they’ve failed and how your customer can learn from these experiences.
According to LinkedIn, creativity was one of the top five most in-demand soft skills in 2019. It's an important attribute for account managers because it can help you come up with fresh, innovative solutions to customer problems.
If a client asks for help in an area where they've been struggling to get results for some time, a bit of creative thinking could be exactly what's needed to find a new approach.
4. Excellent communication
It pretty much goes without saying that communication is a key skill for account managers, but it's always worth reminding yourself just how important it is that you can speak to all sorts of clients - from long-term, loyal customers to brand new accounts - with clarity and confidence.
There are always things you can do to improve your ability as a communicator. You can test yourself by taking part in role plays and imaginary scenarios with colleagues playing the part of tricky clients demanding answers to difficult questions.
Empathy is a hugely valuable trait for account managers since it enables you to put yourself in the client's position and understand what's really important to them and their business. This greatly increases your ability to deliver results by acknowledging your client's needs and taking prompt action to meet them.
Like communication, empathy is something that comes more naturally to some people than to others. One of the most basic but most important steps you can take to become more empathetic is simply to listen more.
Active listening is a useful technique that can help you show clients that you're taking their thoughts and concerns onboard.
6. Ability to negotiate
One of your key goals as an account manager is to maximize the lifetime business value of your clients. This relies on an ability not only to keep customers happy with the existing products and services they're receiving, but to get them to buy more from you in the future.
Developing your negotiation skills will help you achieve this objective by reaching new deals with clients to drive revenue generation.
Becoming a better negotiator makes you a more valuable asset to your employer, but also helps you strengthen customer relationships by devising agreements that unlock benefits for all parties.