A key account manager is the link between a client and a company, anticipating and understanding the client's specific needs and offering solutions. The solutions could be in the form of service information or a specific product. Depending on the type of organisation, the key account manager has different clients, sometimes in different industries. Key account managers are responsible for preserving the business within the account and generating new business. Their goal is to create credibility, build strong, lasting client relationships and earn the client's trust.
Key account managers analyse and adapt new strategies to react to changing business trends. The key account manager manages objectives and plans through a field team or through internal associates. These professionals are responsible for studying and understanding market trends and knowing how they affect their accounts.
Most employers prefer to hire candidates with bachelor's degrees in business management or marketing who have related work experience. Some companies require three to five years in a sales or marketing position, while others prefer a postgraduate degree and account management experience. Depending on the type of company, work-related experience in a particular industry might be required as well.
The key account manager must have excellent negotiation and presentation skills, as well as effective verbal and written communication skills. To keep track of multiple clients, a key account manager must be well organised and able to interpret and draw relevant insights from various resources and methodologies. A key account manager must transform the needs of the client into a realistic project and meet the client's expectations. There is a strong need to be independent and focused.
Key account managers spend most of their time listening and talking to clients, either on the telephone or in person. Some positions are exclusively telephone-based and some are customer-site based, but most are a combination of the two. Customer-based roles can require a considerable amount of travelling. The overall working environment of a key account manager is demanding and fast-paced.
Salary and Job Outlook
According to Indeed.com, the average salary for a U.S. key account manager in May 2010 ranged from £36,400 to £51,350, depending on the size and location of the company and the manager's experience level. In some instances, key account managers also earn bonuses and benefits in addition to their base salaries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment opportunities for advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations and sales managers are expected to increase by 13 per cent through 2018.