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Account Management 3.0: How to identify star account managers

Gone are the days of Pete Campbell. Mad men was cool, but it was also set in the 1960s. So let’s not employ like it’s 1969.

Account management has changed vastly over the years, but sadly the image of the account manager hasn’t: a smooth, fast-talking cat who can schmooze himself out of anything, over a double scotch and lunch.

Today’s account manager is the product of a digital revolution, which, as we all know, has changed the marketing and advertising landscape. Clients are results-driven and more demanding than ever. Creativity is important, but strategy has become equally as important, transforming a creative goal into one that is collective. And that goal is no longer a perspex gold award. It is customers, return on investment and real value.

Account managers in a digital marketing agency should share the same qualities as account managers in a traditional agency. Here are five areas you need to look at when interviewing a candidate for an account management role.

Is she a strategic thinker?

The account manager needs to think strategically and question the strategies and plans briefed by the various departments. If the account manager is strategically minded, she can impress the client with strategic ideas and then brief the team to implement them.

Strategically-thinking client facing people are important for adding value in client meetings.

Does she have a cool head?

There are many ways to deal with stress, but freaking out is not an option. If you’re looking to employ top performing account managers, look for the cool, calm and collected. But you don’t want overconfident or indifferent. Look for that balance between too calm and too stressed.

Is she able to manage projects?

She should be project-oriented at heart and understand deliverables and lead times. Many account managers have no regard for lead times, an oversight that can put immense pressure on the team. No matter how many cream cheese bagels an account manager eats with the client, the client will ultimately suffer if timelines aren’t adhered to.

She should also have a great understanding of the agency as a whole, and its internal processes.

Is she a role model?

Find the self-starters, the go-getters and the most ambitious people you can find, not just in account management but agency wide. Role models across the agency are really important for inspiring others, and account managers are often center stage. People naturally look up to these extroverts, so make sure you find the right ones.

Is she curious?

Curious people absorb information and ask questions at every turn. In order to understand and juggle multiple clients, industries, problems and opportunities, the account manager needs to have a thirst for information. Information and knowledge is power to an account manager.

Does she achieve a balance between work and life?

Does the account manager applicant have the ability to balance her work with her life? The account management role is, by nature, highly stressful. It’s of vital importance that the applicant has hobbies and partakes in relaxing activities outside of work, such as exercise or yoga. Account managers who work non-stop will burn out.

Avoid the stress of hiring new personnel by outsourcing to a specialist agency.

Great hybrid account managers are hard to come by; they’re like hens’ teeth in a digital marketing agency. What’s more, hiring new staff comes with the usual HR issues and complications – like a sky-high salary bill and crises during holiday periods. Outsourcing to a specialist agency can be a great way to access top quality strategic thinkers while scaling your agency.

Author: Devin Ross

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