Take a moment to think about one particular product that you enjoy. Now think about all the different places you can purchase that product. The number of places you can purchase that product is no mistake because they have been strategically placed there by manufacturing companies.
In this situation, the location you are thinking of is known as an “account.” For food manufacturing companies like Dr. Oetker, these clients might include supermarket chains like Loblaw Companies and Metro. For ingredient suppliers like Sysco, their accounts are restaurants.
However, when dealing with dozens of accounts at once, each still requires a personal touch to ensure that the account is in good hands. Having good relationships helps both the account and account representatives.
This career profile is looking at the profession of Account Managers and how their management skills allow for products to reach the shelves.
An Account Manager is a liaison between a company and its customers
Account managers are professionals who perform the day-to-day management of their business. They perform a variety of duties in order to build and strengthen relationships with clients and may focus on a subset of accounts. Account managers identify the needs of both their business and the customer and decide how to best to meet those needs.
These professionals, in many cases, seek out new clients through cold calling and face-to-face meetings to ensure their company has a competitive advantage. Finally, they implement strategic customer projects such as the development of new innovative products in order to acquire new clients.
Account Managers have diverse educational backgrounds
It is common for account managers to have a university degree or college diploma in Business Administration. Other common degrees include Marketing, Food Science and even physical science degrees like Chemistry and Biology.
Due to the strong competition for jobs in these fields, a master’s degree could allow for account managers to stand out among other candidates. There are no current schools that offer specific degrees in food account management in Canada or the United States. If students are looking to further their education through a master’s degree, a postgraduate degree in Business Administration is suggested.
Becoming an account manager in the food industry is unique compared to other industries such as technology. The food industry allows for a greater range in education, allowing for a larger scope of educational backgrounds to be considered.
Account Managers understand their clients
Having strong relationships with clients is the heart of an account manager’s job. Account managers truly listen to clients because they want to understand their client’s needs. They consistently need to collaborate with customers and develop time lines for customer-touch points. Furthermore, these professionals have exceptional customer service abilities and always look at things from the perspective of the customer.
Account Managers have intuition
Account managers always look to identify new business channels in order to achieve customer revenue and profit targets. They proactively keep abreast in all news, speculations and emerging strategic objectives related to each customer. They get this information through industry news, conferences, reports and market research. Effective account managers are able to sort out all of the information they have collected and understand where it fits in the big picture. Account managers think two steps ahead.
Account Managers negotiate
Account managers are skilled negotiators, matching their company objectives with client needs. The objective of negotiation for account managers is to ensure that their client is happy and the company they work is experiencing business success. They negotiate with a customer’s headquarters and category buyers on pricing, new items and promotions to grow their business. They always negotiate in accordance with the company’s budget and profitability plan to ensure all business deals are profitable on both sides.
The objective of negotiating with key accounts is to use strategic selling and negotiating skills to match your company objectives with a key account’s needs, strategies and opportunities, and to increase the overall level of your business with the account (i.e., interns of volume, turnover and share of product sector).
Account Managers monitor customer performance
Account management focuses on building long-term beneficial partnerships with clients. To know if these partnerships are beneficial, account managers must monitor a client’s performance both in the short and long term.
For example, one metric that account managers might track is sales growth, a metric that measures the average sales volume of a company’s products or services has grown, typically from year to year. This metric allows an account manager to determine if a client is gaining this profit in the long term.
Overall, by monitoring metrics, account managers determine how well relationships are going and the revenue a company is generating and assess their performances.
Account Managers conduct presentations
One of the most difficult parts about being an account manager is developing new relationships with potential clients. One technique account managers use to influence prospects to purchase from them is presentations. These presentations translate and communicate information such as new products available at their company, project updates or customer reviews. Therefore, effective account managers need to be comfortable presenting in front of others.
Account Managers are good listeners, creative and self-starters
Being an account manager requires a wide range of skills. However, there are a few which are more essential than others. These skills include:
- Listening – Being able to listen is the key to all effective communication. Account managers listen to the concerns of their clients and ask a lot of questions. Active listening involves reading individuals’ body language, maintaining eye contact and mirroring a speaker’s language to show interest.
- Self-Starter – Effective account managers are self-starters and are motivated to start new tasks without the help of others. Account managers demonstrate this by developing good productivity habits, using the right tools and setting structured goals. Overall, account managers know what the client needs without upper management instructing them to do so.
- creative – Creativity is an important skill for any account manager who would like to stand out from the crowd. Each client is unique, meaning that the same campaign cannot be used for different clients. Account managers use their experience and knowledge of the client to come up with creative ideas.