What Does It Take to Be a Strong Account Manager?

Author: Heather Long | December 4, 2015

The AdU Account Management program was a sold-out event held on Tuesday, October 13, 2015, at the Rubin Postaer and Associates (RPA) headquarters in Santa Monica, California. While the program was specifically tailored to highlight account management within the advertising world, key takeaways were beneficial to account managers outside advertising as well. The program offered insights into the overall elements of being a successful account manager, including key traits they possess, what a day in their lives is really like and helpful tips for thriving in an account management role.

Instructor Lisa Tanner, VP Account Director of RPA, was joined by former colleagues to discuss account management as seen through the lens of the agency team as well as by the client. The instructors and attendees collaborated to create a list of the key traits displayed by a successful agency account manager (your typical A-Type or, in other words, “Ad-A”), which included being outgoing, organized, passionate and driven. The traits came as no surprise to the group. Although a large portion of what makes an account manager successful is indeed his/her traits, it was also interesting to hear a few things that clients feel a successful account manager will do for their brands’ accounts.

Take clients’ schedules into account.

When it comes to effective client communication, it is important for account managers to keep in mind that as much as their time is limited by a full schedule and a variety of tasks to complete before day’s end, the same holds true for their clients. A lengthy email providing each and every detail involves more work than getting right to the point. On average, a professional must respond to 120 emails per day, making it easy for your urgent email to be overlooked or for specifics to get lost in translation. One suggestion for ensuring that your message is not only received but also clearly understood is to write the communication with the reader in mind. When it is not imperative to provide full detail, use bulleted points; break up lengthy paragraphs to avoid blocks of text. In other instances, it might be simpler and more effective to just pick up the phone and call your client.

Plan for failure.

Sounds crazy, right? But the last thing your client wants to hear is that something happened and you have no solution for addressing the situation. It is important for account managers to work proactively rather than reactively to anticipate all potential problems before they arise and to put together a proper strategy for resolving any possible issues in a timely fashion. Plan ahead by always being over-prepared and doing your homework. An account manager can possess all the key traits for being successful; however, by not planning to fail, he or she will not be able to achieve true success.

Be flexible.

Most importantly, the true keys to being a successful account manager are to enjoy what you do and to be flexible! If you thrive on routine, an account manager’s role may not be for you. Successful account managers might have a day planned out perfectly, but must be able to adapt at any given moment as new priorities come up at the drop of a hat.

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