3 questions to ask yourself to become an indispensable account manager
I know what you’re thinking… account management? Client services? Why do I care what they think, they’re not the experts?
You see, we often define ‘effective’ or ‘successful’ account managers based on their ability to manage teams, juggle tasks and clients, pay attention to detail and keep everyone happy all while making the numbers work.
While all these skills are entirely necessary, in this digital day and age they should just be the standard. In order to be truly successful and indispensable an account manager needs to go above and beyond expectations.
Best practice = standard practice.
But how can you do this? Well, there are three questions you should be asking yourself when evaluating yourself as an account manager.
- What does my client want?
If it’s flying cars, winning the Game of Thrones and the ability to live forever, I think you may have gone down the wrong route of conversation.
Let me reclarify – in order to directly impact your client’s business objectives and overall success, you must understand what they want to achieve.
What are their business objectives? What are the goals of key stakeholders within the business? And how does your agency’s work help them achieve these goals? Knowing these things are imperative to building a successful relationship and delivering good results (of course, the best way to build a client relationship is to take them out for karaoke – but that’s a different blog).
Beyond being beneficial from a strategic standpoint for the client, having this background knowledge will ensure that you are the ‘go to’ person for team members within your agency, so you can assist and advise from a point of authority. This is one step closer to becoming indispensable.
This insight will also support your position in all recommendations you put forward to your client, as you can ensure they align with the wider business’s strategic approach.
“But how can I get to know my client” I hear you cry… well, the best way to gain this knowledge is through in-depth onboarding sessions at the project’s initial stages, which will help you understand the structure of your client’s business, how they work, and what they want to achieve.
But it doesn’t stop after the onboarding. In fact, throughout the project you should be aiming to nurture your client relationship, as a top priority. Developing a communications strategy creates a structured plan for regular contact through weekly updates and progress and review meetings.
Maintain an ongoing dialogue to gain updates about things that could impact future tasks or the direction of the strategy. Why not try working from the client’s office for the day; this can often be an invaluable insight into their world, how their day and role is structured.
- What does my client need?
Whilst it is important to understand what your client wants, it’s equally as important to understand what they need, as occasionally they may not even know themselves, particularly if their background isn’t in Digital Marketing.
Often, an “outsiders’ perspective” is necessary to best advise on any strategic planning. A word of wary advice here though – treat this with care, be gentle in your advice and be prepared.
To achieve this without ruffling any feathers, you’ll need a fantastic understanding of your client’s industry and how they operate within it.
The onboarding session will have given you insight into your client and their current position in their market. However, you need to understand the factors within their sector and the competitive environment that they operate within.
Conducting SWOT analysis evaluates the performance of your client and the work you have conducted against KPIs. It will help you evaluate the working relationship between them and your agency and identify possible threats as well as areas of opportunity. This will provide strategic direction and support in updating any project roadmaps that are in place, either as a proactive or reactive method.
Having an awareness of the wider sector, including things like public policy, current affairs, and the economy, will give you deeper insight, so you can spot any potential opportunities or threats to a project’s success. This is where your proactive approach to account governance will turn you from “the rest” into the “best” – above competitors and other agencies.
- What else can I do about it?
Besides all the above? You’ll also need a fantastic knowledge of your own industry. Become an expert. This isn’t easy – but nothing worth doing ever is. Being an expert in your own industry is key to providing your client with strategic insight into how they can progress and maximise their return on investment.
Keeping up to date with changes in your own industry will provide you with expertise that the client may not possess, while also supporting the recommendations made by your agency. Clients pay you for expert opinion and market leading advice, so you better step up and provide it!
This expertise will help you communicate how specific tasks will impact their business and how the strategy can be adapted to respond.
To keep up to date on your industry:
- Read industry blogs (like this one) or press articles related to your industry or sector
- Attend industry-related conferences (Like Search Leeds).
- Attain further industry experience or qualifications (such as Google Adwords)
- Learn from the experts in your agency, sit with the channel experts and ask questions. Pester them until they run at the sight of you, and then use the tools that they use and immerse yourself in all things digital.
Through answering each of the 3 questions above, you will have become an indispensable member of the team, not only internally, but for your client as well. This will help you maximise your client’s success and improve your own individual performance as an account manager. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll need to work on this for a long time and then continue to do so, to keep yourself sharp, relevant and indispensable.