Is becoming an account manager right for me?
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How to become an Account Manager
To become an account manager in the United States, follow these steps:
- Earn a Bachelor's Degree: While not always a strict requirement, many employers prefer candidates with a degree in business administration, business communications, marketing, or a related field. Focus on coursework that emphasizes communication, negotiation, marketing, and customer relationship management.
- Gain Relevant Work Experience: Entry-level positions in sales, customer service, or account support can provide valuable experience in understanding client needs and building relationships. Look for opportunities to work in industries or roles that align with your career goals as an account manager.
- Develop Strong Interpersonal and Communication Skills: Account managers need excellent communication and interpersonal skills to effectively interact with clients and colleagues. Practice active listening, empathy, and clear communication to understand client needs and convey information effectively.
- Hone Sales and Negotiation Skills: Account managers often need to sell products or services, negotiate contracts, and upsell to clients. Develop your sales and negotiation skills through training programs, workshops, or practical experience. Learn to identify and capitalize on business opportunities.
- Build Industry Knowledge: Familiarize yourself with the industry or industries in which you wish to work as an account manager. Stay updated on market trends, competitors, and industry-specific challenges. Attend industry conferences, seminars, or webinars to expand your knowledge and network.
- Develop Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Skills: Account managers rely on CRM software to track client interactions, manage leads, and monitor account performance. Familiarize yourself with popular CRM tools such as Salesforce, HubSpot, or Microsoft Dynamics, as proficiency in using these systems is often preferred by employers.
- Seek Professional Certifications: While not mandatory, professional certifications can enhance your credibility and marketability as an account manager. Consider pursuing certifications such as Certified Account Manager (CAM) offered by the National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP) or Certified Key Account Manager (CKAM) provided by the Key Account Management Association (KAM).
- Apply for Account Manager Positions: Search for job opportunities as an account manager through online job portals, company websites, or professional networking platforms. Tailor your resume to highlight relevant skills and experiences. Prepare for interviews by showcasing your ability to build relationships, handle client inquiries, and demonstrate your understanding of the sales process.
- Continuously Learn and Grow: Account management is a dynamic field, and ongoing learning is crucial. Stay updated on industry trends, new sales techniques, and emerging technologies. Seek professional development opportunities through workshops, webinars, or industry-specific courses.
There are several helpful resources available for account managers. Here are a few that can provide valuable insights, training, and industry information:
- National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP): NASP offers resources, training programs, and certifications for sales professionals, including account managers. Their website provides access to articles, webinars, podcasts, and networking opportunities.
- Key Account Management Association (KAM): KAM is a professional organization focused on key account management. They offer resources, training programs, events, and a community of account management professionals. Their website provides access to articles, research papers, and best practices in the field.
- LinkedIn Sales Solutions: LinkedIn Sales Solutions offers a variety of resources specifically tailored to sales professionals. Their Sales Navigator platform provides tools to identify and connect with potential clients, and their blog offers articles and insights on sales strategies, account management, and industry trends.
- HubSpot Academy: HubSpot Academy provides free online courses and certifications on various aspects of sales and customer relationship management. Their courses cover topics such as inbound sales, CRM usage, and sales enablement, which can be beneficial for account managers.
- Sales Hacker: Sales Hacker is a website dedicated to providing sales professionals with resources, articles, webinars, and podcasts. They cover a wide range of sales-related topics, including account management, sales techniques, and sales technology.
- Account Management LinkedIn Groups: Joining relevant LinkedIn Groups focused on account management can provide a platform for networking and knowledge sharing. Some popular groups include "Account Management Best Practices" and "Strategic Account Management Association (SAMA)."
- Industry-Specific Associations and Publications: Explore industry-specific associations and publications related to the industries you work with as an account manager. These organizations often offer resources, events, and publications specific to your industry, providing valuable insights and networking opportunities.
- Account Management Blogs and Podcasts: There are several account management-focused blogs and podcasts that offer tips, insights, and real-world experiences from industry experts. Some notable examples include "The Strategic Account Manager" podcast and the "Account Manager Tips" blog.