Some significant traits separate a good account manager from the rest. Whether they are representing manufacturing companies that supply chemicals for various industries, or handling retail clothing accounts, account managers must be able to solve problems and communicate effectively with customers to provide them with appropriate products and, in the process, achieve sales goals.
Ability to Form Relationships
Building a bond of trust between the account manager and key people within the account that he handles is crucial for a successful account manager. Relationships take time, and the buyer must perceive that the account manager has his best interests in mind. According to ChangingMinds.org, the salesperson should convince the customer that she will protect him from harm, and must be reliable and tell the truth. Cultivating a strong relationship pays off in repeat business and a shorter “close” to the sale. The goodwill generated by strong positive relationships goes a long way toward opening doors to future sales opportunities.
Ability to Ask the Right Questions
Problem-solving is another essential trait of a good account manager. In order to elicit information that enables the manager to identify needs and find the best solutions, he must be able to formulate the right questions and listen to the answers. Open-ended questions enable the customer to expand on the subject and reveal issues that concern him. The account manager can ask questions like, "What kind of challenges are you facing?", "What is your most important priority?" and "What would you like to see improved?" to gain insight into the customer's needs.
Ability to Listen, Analyze and Persuade
Asking the right questions is only the first step in solving problems. Once the customer reveals her concerns, the account manager must be able to listen to the answer and come up with a solution. The account manager can provide added value by consulting with the customer to posit the right product or service as a solution. For example, a printer may find that certain chemicals blur the finished printed piece. The account manager can recommend a product with a different formulation. This problem-solving approach can avoid a torrent of objections that can come with more traditional, “hard-sell” approaches. The account manager is seen as a partner who can provide solutions to customer problems, and can then use persuasive skills to close the sale by asking for a commitment.
Ability to Organize
A good account manager must be organized to keep track of accounts and offer focused product presentations and demonstrations. The sales process can sometimes take time until the deal is closed, and an account manager must use organizational skills to set up appointments. This may mean setting up a demonstration and providing printed information in the form of brochures, videos or presentation folders so the customer can make a buying decision. An account manager in the printing chemical industry, for instance, would ask the printer to clear his press of other chemicals in order to set up a product demonstration. He would use that opportunity to describe the features and benefits of the printing chemicals.
Sharon Penn is a writer based in South Florida. A professional writer since 1981, she has created numerous materials for a Princeton advertising agency. Her articles have appeared in "Golf Journal" and on industry blogs. Penn has traveled extensively, is an avid golfer and is eager to share her interests with her readers. She holds a Master of Science in Education.