Sales person: "An individual who sells goods and services to other entities."
Is an Account Manager a sales person? Yes, whether you are prospecting, closing deals or simply order-taking, you are a sales person. That thought can make an Account Manager feel extremely uncomfortable at times, especially when you got into account management thinking you'd be an organiser or relationship-builder, not a "sales person".
Is an Account Manager a sales person? Yes, whether you are prospecting, closing deals or simply order-taking, you are a sales person. – Sarah Ritchie
Sales via relationship-building is definitely possible, but having a good client relationship will not guarantee sales. You are still going to have to be proactive, still have to make the occasional sales pitch, and still "close the sales".
Some companies refer to their account management staff as their "sales team". You will find that those companies put greater emphasis on business development (new and existing), targets, GPs and incentives than those companies who refer to their account managers as their "client service" team. It pays to clearly understand a company's expectations before you accept an account management job offer!
Whether the pressure to sell is overt or not, an Account Manager is most definitely selling their wares every day of their career. Every AM will have a budget figure that they have to reach at the end of each month/quarter/year, and it is your responsibility to ensure you hit those targets. How you reach the targets will differ depending on your company and clientele.
You may be a fortunate AM, in that the work will simply fall into your lap during the course of the year. This is especially true if you have one or two large clients with whom you know exactly what their spend is during the year, and you are effectively the facilitator of the spend. More difficult is the sales road for the AM who has a smattering of smaller clients, from whom the work is erratic and unpredictable; where jobs you thought would come in (or that you counted on) often do not eventuate. When the revenue is unpredictable you need to focus more strongly on the fundamentals of the sales process. These include:
"...about 15% of one's financial success is due to one's technical knowledge;
and about 85% is due to skill in human engineering,
to personality, and the ability to lead people."
"How to Win Friends & Influence People", Dale Carnegie
Seasoned sales people will tell you that selling in a crowded marketplace is difficult (especially if there is little differentiation between agencies), and even the best sales people rarely like cold calling. Therefore, if all this sales talk is a little overwhelming, you can begin with what I call the basics of "Account Manager selling":
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When your creative team gives you their concepts, it will be up to you to take those concepts to your client and present them in a manner that does you, your team and your agency justice. This process is well-known as ‘selling the work’ because - quite often - you will need to encourage your client to be brave, take a risk, and do things differently. It could take a hefty dose of salesmanship to get your team’s ideas across the line and ‘close the deal’.
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