What matters most when it comes to managing accounts within a marketing agency?
In this article, I will outline the 5 skills that can make or break an account manager.
However, before we begin, let’s get something out-of-the-way. Account management is underappreciated. Yes, I said it. I’m generalizing here, but for the most part, agencies (and clients) value specialists over account managers. Why is that?
Well, account management is often seen as very “process-driven” rather than “results-driven.” But if you ask the average account manager, he or she will tell you that what they do is both an art and a science.
Account management might be easy to learn, but it takes years to master, and ultimately, some folks just are cut out for this side of the business.
Nevertheless, there are five specific things you can do right now to become a better account manager. So let’s get to the good stuff…
1. Have a system (and actually use it)
At the core of any account manager’s day is their workflow system. This is how you get stuff done. You need to have a system in place that you can rely on for knowing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and who should do it.
For starters, I recommend checking out David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” (GTD) methodology. This is a productivity framework that helps you get organized and stay focused. I swear by his system and use it religiously.
Read his book or hit me up on Twitter and I’d be glad to explain the details to you.
I also recommend getting in the habit of “Inbox Zero.” Email takes up a large chunk of our day, so you need to control your inbox before it controls you.
As for keeping track of tasks and projects both for yourself and your team, you’re going to want to invest in a good project management tool. I personally recommend Asana, as it makes it easy to integrate with third-party apps and allows for easy communication.
[Tweet “The best #AccountManagers have a system and actually use it.”]
2. Know when and where to prioritize
Account managers are very busy. All day. Get used to it. There will never be enough time in the day for most managers to do everything they want to do.
After you realize this, the next step is to deal with your workload in a rational and productive way. This means you need to know what must get done right now and what can wait until later.
Getting good at prioritizing takes time, but it makes a heck of a difference.
As a general rule, try to delegate tasks or projects to others first, before you work on tasks or projects of your own. This way your team will be able to get started right away and won’t be waiting on you for the green light.
The more people who can work concurrently on a project, the quicker it will get completed. Makes sense, huh?
[Tweet “Excellent #AccountManagers know when and where to prioritize their time and effort.”]
3. Understand that “project management” is actually “people management”
You can’t talk about account management without talking about project management. That’s what we do. We manage marketing projects.
But projects are often very abstract. In order to work more productively, we should shift our focus on people management. After all, behind every marketing project is a team of people, right?
We deal with clients, specialists, consultants, vendors, sales people, secretaries, executives, etc. all day long. And how we treat them translates into the quality and outcome of our work.
So focus on people rather than projects.
[Tweet “For #AccountManagers, “Project Management” is actually “People Management.””]
4. Listen more than you talk
Listening seems to be a forgotten skill these days. Maybe social media has done this to us, or maybe it’s just technology in general.
Whatever the case, most of us like to talk, talk, talk, but hate to listen. It’s all about us, our accomplishments, our ideas, and our problems.
Well, the best account managers flip that script.
When you’re talking to a client, really listen to what they are saying. Learn what they want to accomplish with their marketing dollars. By listening attentively, you’ll be able to do that.
The same goes for vendor relationships. Don’t treat your vendors and specialists as just commodities. Listen to their suggestions and requests. Get them what they need to do a fantastic job.
[Tweet “The best #AccountManagers listen more than they talk.”]
5. Hold everyone accountable (including yourself)
Accountability is one of the most important values you can have, both personally and professionally.
Especially in a fast-paced marketing agency environment, where seconds cannot be spared, you must hold people accountable for what they said they would do.
This goes for everyone. You even need to hold your clients accountable. If you need something from them in order to complete a project, make sure you get it.
If you’re dealing with a specialist, make sure they send their deliverables on time and as described. Otherwise, you could be jeopardizing the entire project.
And of course, you need to hold yourself to these same high standards as well. Do what you said you would do, when you said you would do it. Accountability starts with you.
[Tweet “Great #AccountManagers hold everyone accountable, including themselves.”]
What did I leave out?
While this is a good starting point for excelling as an account manager, there is a lot more to the job than what I’ve written above.
What skills, traits, and values did I miss? I’d love to hear your views on the matter, whether you’re an account manager, an agency owner, a client of an agency, or none of the above and just want to add your two cents!
Add a comment below or reach out on Twitter. And if you’re an account manager working at an agency, be sure to let me know, so that I can add you to my Twitter list and give you a follow.