How to Become
an Account Manager
Essential Education, Skills, and Job Interview Prep
Sales is a key department in any company. The success of a business is directly linked to the volume of goods or services it sells. However, offering a product, service, or benefit to clients is a specialized skill, and that is why companies hire account managers. This job is a strategic way to search for and retain clients.
Read on to discover how to become an account manager in 2021. Learn about the academic path, daily tasks, average salaries, job interview questions, and much more.
What Is an Account Manager?
An account manager is the person in charge of managing and administering the relationships between a company and its customers.
Usually, an account manager is a professional marketer who turns the needs of the clients and interests of the company into a business agreement.
These experts create mutually beneficial business relationships, recruit new clients, lead sales teams, and create business strategies to generate more revenue.
Account Manager Salary and Job Outlook
According to PayScale, the average account manager earns about $55,601 per year. Your exact income will depend on the company you work for, the state you live in, your experience, and other factors. Furthermore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of managerial jobs will increase by five percent between 2019 and 2029.
Entry-Level Account Manager Job Requirements
The entry level is the stage at which an account manager must show basic knowledge of sales and marketing. If you want to look for a position like this, you must have experience as an assistant account manager or junior account executive manager.
PayScale estimates that entry-level account managers make about $45,000 per year.
How to Ace Your Account Manager Job Interview
The job interview is an important step in the hiring process. Remember that you have to manage client accounts, budgets, and confidential business data. Demonstrating confidence and the ability to handle responsibility will tick some crucial boxes with your potential employer.
Now that you know what it takes to get your foot in the door, you can go the extra mile by studying the most popular account manager interview questions below.
Common Account Manager Job Interview Questions
- Why did you choose this company as a place to work?
- What is your experience as an account manager?
- How can you improve client relationships with our company?
- Which tools are the best to show our services to clients?
- Can you lead and manage a sales team?
What Degree Should I Get to Become an Account Manager
The majority of account managers have a bachelor’s degree on their resumes. This career path requires formal learning, which tends to lead to the accumulation of professional experience through internships and other school-related opportunities.
Below you will see the options available to start your journey as an account manager.
Associate Degree in Marketing and Sales
Most companies require account manager candidates to have a college degree of some kind. A degree demonstrates your commitment to learning a discipline that is attractive to would-be employers. If you want to start with a low-commitment one, you can consider an Associate Degree in Marketing and Sales.
The advantage of an in-person or online associate degree is that it teaches you the elementary skills of account management. Remember that this job is focused on marketing and sales. An associate degree in these topics allows you to learn the foundational knowledge for an entry-level sales manager role in just two years.
Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration
To work as a qualified professional, you must earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. It will cover sales and marketing plus other essential skills necessary to become a successful account manager. This option requires a time commitment of four to five years, depending on the university and curricular requirements.
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for most companies, so it’s crucial to complete this stage if you want to secure a job swiftly. For a little more flexibility in your study options, try looking into an online bachelor’s degree program.
Master’s Degree in Business Marketing
If you want to take your education even further, you could consider earning a master’s degree. To be eligible, you must have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration or a relevant subject area.
A Master’s Degree in Marketing is an excellent strategy to gain specialized knowledge, an impressive addition to your resume, and the possibility of higher-paid roles. In a master’s degree program, you will spend between 18 months and two years studying.
In addition to marketing, advertising and public relations are other disciplines you can study to help you better understand customer behavior. Gathering knowledge in any of these areas will allow you to create better business strategies for your company.
Statistics from ZipRecruiter show that people with a Master’s in Marketing earn an average salary of $71,938. This number could be less or more depending on your role, company, and other circumstances.
Doctoral Degree in Marketing
To have a complete educational experience, you can access the highest option: a doctoral degree. To be considered for this qualification, you must have both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in areas related to business, sales, or marketing.
A doctoral degree is demanding and challenging and requires four to six years of commitment. However, the payoff is well worth it. You can then create research projects, be a university professor at a business school, and obtain high-earning jobs in many companies.
What Does an Account Manager Do?
Now that you know more about the academic preparation for this role, you should understand the daily activities of an account manager. If you want to get a job like this, you must understand the basic skills, work environment, and challenges of the industry.
Pay attention to the account manager job description below.
Looks for New Clients
Your first and most important task as an account manager will be looking for clients. Building relationships can be a tricky business.
However, as a sales and business management professional, you will have the resources to create a bond between your company and new customers. This step includes knowing all the company’s services, benefits, costs, savings, plans, and other business issues.
Keeps Existing Clients
If you start working on an existing project, you need to keep up with the work to keep current clients within the company. It would be best to create strategies so that the commercial activity continues to function perfectly. How are you going to attract further investment from these clients?
In addition, you must present your plans to key stakeholders within your own company. This is about convincing them that your strategies are water-tight and can yield the desired financial results.
Presents Client Feedback
Another of your tasks as an account manager is to convert the opinion of new and old customers into feedback for the company’s services. In this case, you must record the comments, the percentage of active clients, and users who finished the contract, among other tasks.
Feedback helps the company improve its services and products to generate more sales and attract more customers.
Essential Account Manager Skills
The activities of a key account manager (KAM) require specific skills. If you want to learn about the resources of this job, you need experience in administration, communication, and advertising tools.
Below you will learn about the skills in highest demand within the account manager industry.
Communication is an indispensable tool in this business. As an account manager, you will need to use speech and writing to maintain relationships with existing customers and new clients.
This skill includes managing and administering the company’s email to interact with users, manage responses, and create feedback on requests or complaints. Many companies assign account managers to lead the teams in charge of reading and responding to sales emails.
LinkedIn and Recruiting Skills
To find new clients, you must be an expert on platforms like LinkedIn. This expertise helps you determine if people’s professional profiles meet the general characteristics of potential customers of the business.
Social Media Skills
Social media is a powerful tool for an account manager. You must know how advertisements work on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
As an account manager, you can lead a marketing team to bring users and followers to the company, offer them the company’s services, and convert them into new customers.
How to Become an Account
Manager: A Step-by-Step Guide
Pursuing this career can be a good life decision. The sales industry continues to grow every year, so the demand for new employees is always increasing. No career has a perfect step-by-step path, as your professional success depends on your decisions and your performance. However, most of the currently active account managers share similar skills, education, and aptitudes. Below you will see five key steps to accomplish your goal of becoming an account manager.
Evaluate Your Context
If you want to join the sales industry as an account manager, your first step will be to assess your context. So, check the average price of college tuition in your city, the cost of living on campus, the demand for work, the average salary, and the companies where you can work. If your budget and resources are sufficient, then you can move on to the next step.
Start a Bachelor's Degree
Most companies require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree. The ideal program is in business administration. However, marketing, sales, advertising, and public relations also teach you the basics of account management.
A bachelor’s degree takes four to five years. During your studies, you will become familiar with the necessary tools to work in the industry. You will be taught by expert professors in the sector, and you will carry out professional practice sessions before receiving your degree.
Look for a Job
After you graduate, you will start looking for a job with a company. Possibly your first job opportunity is as a member of a sales team. You must follow the instructions of a manager, and participate in conferences and strategy meetings.
This entry stage allows you to gain experience on your resume and adapt to the rhythm of the company’s work.
Apply for a Key Account Manager (KAM) Position
After gaining the company’s trust and demonstrating your positive results on the sales team, you can apply for the position of key account manager. This step may take approximately one to two years, depending on your performance. If you are talented, the company may hire you to do this job from day one.
Expand Your Knowledge
Lastly, the best way to have a successful career in this industry is through intellectual growth. If you earn a master’s degree or doctoral degree, you will have more specialized experience, which increases your chances of earning higher salaries and more job benefits.
How Long Does It Take to Become an Account Manager?
Account management requires effort and responsibility. There is no set period needed to finish your degree. However, if you consider the traditional step-by-step route, you will need between six to seven years to work as a professional.
For this figure, we take into account four to five years in college to earn the bachelor’s degree, and then one to two years working for the sales department before being promoted to account manager.
If you want to expand your knowledge base, you can choose other educational options such as a two-year master’s degree, a four-to-six-year doctoral degree, or short courses.
Should You Become an Account Manager in 2021?
Yes. This career has a good job outlook for the next few years. Also, you can participate in ambitious projects, receive sales benefits, and become a business leader. You may also speak at conferences, among many other exciting possibilities.
Another reason to follow this career is the convenience of e-learning. Many universities offer online master’s degrees, certifications, and other educational resources through digital platforms. You can earn your degree without leaving your home, an incredible benefit in the 21st century.
Account Manager FAQ
How many people work as account managers in the United States?
Estimates vary, but according to BLS, the total number of managers across advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales was 836,700 in 2019.
What types of companies hire key account managers (KAM)?
A KAM can work in all types of companies. The majority work in wholesale trade, retail, manufacturing, finance and insurance companies, and technology services companies.
Why do companies hire an account manager?
Companies require an account manager for many tasks, especially for sales-related activities. These professionals can benefit the business by evaluating and presenting budgets, analyzing statistics, attracting customers, and leading innovative sales strategies.
What is the hourly rate for an account manager?
According to PayScale data, the median account manager earns about $18.67 per hour. But the median wage is over $20 per hour for key account managers.