How to become an account manager (plus duties and skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 10 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Account managers play a key role in a company's growth as they help a business build lasting relationships with existing and prospective clients. Their strong communication, customer service and persuasive skills can positively affect a company and help the business to reach its target audience. Gaining a clear understanding of the dynamics of becoming an account manager can help you secure a job in this profession. In this article, we explain what an account manager is, how to become one, what their duties are and the skills required to excel in this profession.

What is an account manager?

Before learning how to become an account manager, it's helpful to know what one is. An account manager is a business representative that's responsible for managing sales and the day-to-day running of customers' accounts in an organisation. They're not just concerned with customer accounts but also aim to build a fruitful relationship with customers. Account managers act as an intermediary between the company and customers and often possess excellent customer service skills to enable them to perform their roles effectively. In addition, an account manager can help identify customers' needs and channel the company's attention to meet those needs.

The account manager offers value to customers and educates them on the benefits of subscribing to a service or product. They contribute towards the company's long-term goals by earning their clients' trust and approval. An account manager may have several responsibilities, depending on the business, which can include technical assistance, customer support and working in sales. Their overarching responsibility is to become aware of and focus on the specific needs of different customers.

Related: Account manager job profile: necessary skills and education

How to become an account manager

Below, you can learn how to become an account manager by following these steps:

1. Acquire a relevant education

While it's not essential, a relevant bachelor's degree can give you an advantage over other candidates. You may pursue a bachelor's degree in business management or administration or a degree in marketing or sales, as these subjects directly relate to a career in account management. Alternatively, you can consider degree programmes that deal with finance, public relations and human resources. It's important to note that it's possible to enter this profession by completing an unrelated degree as well.

You can also consider completing a postgraduate qualification, such as a master's degree. Having a postgraduate qualification may help you stand out from other candidates and increase your chances and opportunities of securing a job in this profession.

2. Gain relevant work experience and participate in training

Acquiring relevant work experience is also important, as this role is highly competitive. Most high-paying account management jobs require candidates who have relevant work experience. One way of gaining the necessary experience is by completing an internship, or several internships, for one or two years. This way, you can gain a strong understanding of the fundamentals of account management and improve your skills. Working in an entry-level position, such as a junior account officer, can also help improve your experience and develop your skills.

When completing an internship or working in an entry-level role, it's also important to participate in any training opportunities that could be beneficial to you when looking for an account manager role. This could include customer relations training or completing a course on how to use specific software.

3. Consider obtaining certifications

Another way to improve your chances of securing a job as an account manager is to obtain a relevant certification. Certifications are important credentials that an individual obtains to demonstrate their competence in a certain skill. You can then mention these certifications in your CV as evidence that you meet the criteria for that role. For instance, as an account manager, you can demonstrate your skills in account management by completing the Strategic Account Management Association's (SAMA) Certified Strategic Account Manager programme.

4. Create an outstanding account manager CV

After completing your studies and gaining work experience, the next step is to prepare your account manager's CV. While preparing your CV, try to include all the key information, such as your contact details, education, certifications, training, skills and hobbies. This allows you to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge about the field and also gives the potential employer more information to help them decide whether you're the best fit for the position.

5. Apply for account manager jobs

After preparing your CV, you can begin applying for account management jobs. When doing this, it's important to tailor your CV to each application that you send, ensuring that you demonstrate how you fit the specification for the role. Many applications typically require a cover letter as well, which also requires a tailored approach. When writing your cover letter, it's important that you demonstrate your knowledge of the employer and the issues currently facing the industry, alongside how you match the requirements for the role.

Related: What is account management and how to be successful at it?

What are an account manager's duties?

Below, you can find some common account manager's duties:

  • creating and sustaining long-term relationships with customers

  • updating the management team on customer-related issues

  • overseeing and participating in negotiations or contract discussions

  • helping to provide solutions to customers' needs or complaints

  • working with the sales and marketing teams to identify business opportunities that can benefit the company's growth

  • responding to the needs of customers promptly

  • developing targets for existing and prospective clients

  • updating clients on business developments

Related: 42 account manager interview questions (and sample answers)

Account manager skills

Below, you can find out what skills an account manager uses to succeed in their role:

Communication

An account manager acts as an intermediary between the company and the customers, so it's important that they possess strong interpersonal skills to communicate effectively. Beyond just speaking, effective account managers also possess active listening skills, which is essential for communicating with their team members and customers. Good account managers also know how to communicate on all platforms, which includes phone, email, social media and messaging platforms.

Leadership

Leadership traits are a vital skill to possess as an account manager. This skill enables them to guide their team members while working towards meeting the company's goals. It also helps them to organise team members into departments that can effectively produce products and services that meet the needs of the clients. Account managers also use their leadership skills to implement ideas formulated by themselves and their team during meetings.

Customer service

An account manager often works with customers directly. This means that it's important to possess strong customer service skills. Account managers understand what the client needs and can offer the customer useful guidance on how the company can meet those needs. This can also help account managers gain a better insight into how best to work with each customer and generate new ideas for better productivity.

Technology

As trends change, having strong IT skills is becoming a more essential for an account manager. This includes the use of project management software, CRM software, automation tools and basic computer skills, such as knowledge of word processors and spreadsheet software. By developing and maintaining strong IT skills, effective account managers can use technology to improve their productivity and manage their accounts more successfully.

Related: Account manager skills: definition and examples

Analytical

Account managers are also responsible for building lasting relationships with existing clients and prospective customers. They often do this by setting up systems that guarantee an ongoing partnership with their customers. While a sales manager pays attention to the company's sales, an account manager thinks of realistic plans to earn customers' trust.

Multitask

An account manager typically handles several accounts. This means that this role requires the ability to multitask, as the account manager often has to complete work on several accounts at the same time. Alongside this, account managers may sometimes work to tight deadlines so they require the ability to work while under pressure.

Negotiation

Having strong negotiation skills is a vital attribute for effective account managers. Account managers often require their negotiation skills to meet the demands of both their customers and employer. During this time, they use their persuasive skills and emotional intelligence to meet the needs of both parties, such as during contractual discussions.

Business acumen

As the account manager is a key representative of a business, it's important that they have a strong understanding of their employer. Account managers possess comprehensive knowledge of the company's ethics, principles and visions. They're also well-informed about the company's operational manual, the business's short- and long-term goals and the practical steps needed to accomplish these goals.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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