Account management isn’t easy – nor is it always easy to identify top account management candidates. After all, the job is complex – it’s part customer service, part sales, part consulting, part relationship-building and so much more. When hiring account managers, it’s important to know what to look for so you can be assured that your clients will be nurtured and grown over time.
Industry and Company Knowledge
In addition to product and service knowledge, account managers must be experts in the industry they work in, they must understand the goals and mission of the company they work for and they should have a solid grasp of the competitive landscape. Always incorporate interview questions that focus on these key areas to get a feel for an account manager’s expertise.
Excellent written and verbal communication skills cannot be emphasized enough. Account management is all about communicating effectively with clients. Account managers have to do everything from building trust and rapport, to presenting new products to handling customer complaints and even being a sounding board and consultant. It’s often a good exercise to have a potential account manager role-play different scenarios to see how they would communicate with different types of clients.
Customers are not always happy, pleasant or easy to work with. However, it is an account manager’s job to make each of their clients feel like they are the most important company in the books. This is done by nurturing relationships and going the extra mile – even for the most challenging of customers. Have candidates talk about difficult customers or customers who started off unhappy. How did they turn things around? How do they handle unreasonable requests? Questions like these can uncover just how customer-focused a potential account manager is.
Great account managers are insightful. They use their knowledge of the competition, trends in the industry and common challenges to making strategic recommendations to their customers. They will actively identify potential new growth areas for clients and then pursue them. Talk to candidates about the ways they approach strategic account management. How do they become a proactive resource for a client rather than a reactionary manager who puts out fires?