Account management today

July 05, 2020

In Clear Focus podcast link

This past month I had the pleasure of being a guest on the In Clear Focus podcast by Florida full-service marketing agency, Bigeye, hosted by Adrian Tennant. We explored what account management is like in agencies around the world today. You can hear the 30-minute podcast in its entirety by clicking on the link below.

I love this introduction by Adrian:

Listen to the following job description and guess which agency role it’s for. “The successful candidate will be experienced in data digital, social search media, creative, public relations, events, shopper marketing, programmatic, mobile, print, and outdoor. The ability to simultaneously and efficiently handle up to dozens of stakeholders often with competing interests is a must. The successful candidate is skilled at managing up, managing down, and balancing a profit and loss.” If you guessed Account Manager, well done! That was a fictitious job description that reflects how complex agency business can be.

I have been reflecting on Adrian’s statement. Not only do agency account managers have to be the glue that holds the agency and their client together (and be incredible relationship managers), they also have to have a level of technical proficiency across many different channels. This specialised knowledge is one of the reasons that it can be difficult for people to ‘cross over’ into agency account management from other industries.

Often people will say to me that they have held client service roles in other fields, and so those skills are surely transferable – which is completely true. However, what they often don’t realise is that another part of the agency account manager’s job is that they have to have conversations about their client’s business, and pain points, and then know how the services of the agency can help them solve those issues. This requires a working knowledge of channels, lead times, how channels all fit together, and how to work from the delivery date backwards.

Agency account managers are pretty amazing people, but they can only be as amazing as the training that they get from their seniors and their wider agency teams. And they can only be as amazing as senior leadership allows them to be. What do I mean by that?

Ask yourself these types of questions:

  •     Are your account managers allowed to see the P&L for their clients?
  •     Are they allowed to make strategic recommendations?
  •     Are they included in wider team discussions?
  •     Are they known as the ‘relationship holders’?
  •     Are they called ‘the sales team’?
  •     Do they get any intentional internal training?
  •     Are they sent on external training courses, workshops or seminars?
  •     Are they given financial training?

Management has the opportunity and responsibility to create account managers who will help to add value to their client base and increase profit for the business. But they will only be able to do that if they are given that specific mandate, given room grow and flex their wings, and given the appropriate training.

Like I said in the podcast, if account managers would take a resource like ‘How to Wrestle an Octopus’; if they follow the suggestions in that book, and are given the mandate from their employers to action those suggestions, then I can assure you that the profit of their agency will rise. Agency account management is not rocket science, but it is an essential and complex profession that requires ongoing support. Something to think about!

For a transcript of the podcast, please visit Bigeye’s In Clear Focus website HERE.

All the best to you!

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