This report focuses on the role of account managers and how they play a vital role in the world of advertising today.
Chosen topic: What is the role of the Account Manager in a typical advertising agency team? What skills does an Account Manager require to ensure the advertising team is effective?
Three account management criteria is discussed:-
The skillsets required to be a good account manager is also laid out with different key traits highlighted.
A comparison is also made to differentiate between an account manager and a sales representative to further illustrate on the heavier responsibilities account managers hold as compared to general customer service and support.
1539 words (excluding Executive Summary, Contents Page, Tables and Reference List)
Cover Sheet i
Executive Summary 1
Contents Page 2
1.0 What is an account manager? 3-4
1.1 The three account management criteria 5
2.0 The role of an account manager in advertising agencies 6
2.1 Skills required to be a good account manager 6-7
2.2 Skills to having an effective advertising team 8-9
3.0 Account Management vs Sales 10-11
4.0 Conclusion 12
1.0 What is an account manager?
There has been constant debates over the past years surrounding the importance of an account manager and its role in a company.
An account manager holds the responsibility of a sales professional who performs a variety of duties aimed at managing the employers client relationships, as well as developing new business from existing clients (Henderson, 2019). Some account managers are responsible for identifying new clients and potential business opportunities as well as upsetting products and services (Talley, n.d.).
This may include monitoring budgets and explaining cost factors to clients (Talley, n.d.).
According to Chron, account managers hold three key roles:-
First point of contact for client communication
Maintaining sales quotas
Regular reporting of sales results
It may seem like a simple job but it is definitely not an easy job that anybody can pull off. On top of being the front face of the company, they have to fulfil a certain KPI, also known as key performance indicators, which has to be reported back to the senior management.
The role has definitely changed in the past two decades. Before the recession in 2008, account managers were dubbed as an octopus – being the heart of the agency that touches every department and multi-tasking in different functions (Stanol, 2018). Following the recession, many of these functions were stripped away (Stanol, 2018), which left the question on whether there was still a need for an account manager.
However, the recession has also affected the partnerships between clients and agencies due to shrinking resources and tightening timetables (Stanol, 2018). In this current time where everything moves at a pace where it is multiple times faster than how it was back in the 80s, business has become so complicated where everyone is expected to do more with less (Stanol, 2018); clients are highlighting that the core components of account management – strategy, leadership and relationship-building – are missing from their partnerships (McDonnell, 2014).
1.1 The three account management criteria
Criteria often means the difference between good vs. great account management, and ultimately, good vs. great client-agency partnerships (McDonnell, 2014).
The new emerging media also calls for account managers who are savvy enough to master efficient integration to keep up with the evolving media landscape, especially in communications and technology (Stanol, 2018).
2.0 The role of an account manager in advertising agencies
One of the largest departments in any advertising agency is account services (Suggett, 2019). Typically, the main task of this particular department is to keep a steady stream of work within the agency while overseeing the creative work that is being put out by the creative team as well.
While there are many different roles within the account team itself, the account manager holds a more senior role, which makes them the main point of contact with the clients. Fostering good client relationships and maintaining them is their main responsibility. Should there be any issues arising between the client and the agency, account manager is tasked to step in and manage the clients expectation and ensure all the deliverables are timely met (Suggett, 2019).
This is why being an account manager requires a certain skill sets to deal with both an agencys external relationships – the clients, and its internal relationships – the team churning out the works in accordance to clients needs.
2.1 Skills required to be a good account manager
First and foremost, for one to be a good account manager, they need to have passion for people (Keul, 2018). Working in an agency is a constant hustle and bustle environment where a certain commitment is required – you need to be okay to pull out all-nighters for your clients.
Jen Keul, who lives a life of an account manager, is no stranger to this particular lifestyle. With her experience, she noted a few traits for aspiring account managers out there to keep in mind on what makes an awesome account manager:-
Communicate: You need to speak up. You need to listen. You are the main communicator between clients and the rest of your agency and have to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Stay Organised: You need to know where your stuff is, literally and figuratively.
Form Relationships: Never underestimate the importance of trying to get to know clients better on a personal level. Rapport and trust should your two core values in managing accounts.
Push the Boundaries: Dont become complacent. Always explore new ideas to grow and be comfortable to go out of comfort zones.
Care: Genuinely care about your clients and show it.
Know What Motivates And Use It: You need to establish what motivates your clients and act on it. If its important to your client, it better be important to you.
Passion: If youre passionate about what you do and believe you can make a difference, this can bleed into clients to also discover their passion.
Relationships: You need to be observant, good at study people and the dynamics that come with them.
Experience: Account managers fo best if theyve been in and around the industry. For fresh entries, it is good to start at the coordination levels and work your way up.
Combining all these traits together with interpersonal and goal-oriented skills (Keul, 2018), the chance of success to becoming a good account manager is heightened substantially.
2.2 Skills to having an effective advertising team
As mentioned previously, an account manager is not only in charge of communicating with clients. They also have to account for the internal performances with the relevant teams involved to deliver work efficiently to the client.
Having a strong internal management skills can make all the difference between meeting expectations and deadlines for production-level colleagues. This also directly affects your value as a growing member of the team by your supervisor (Hong, n.d.) While doing so, it is also important to ensure internal management does not interfere with client management (Hong, n.d.)
We have already highlighted the key traits that makes a skilled account manager. To further emphasise, below are certain key traits that will further make account managers to be highly effective in managing the internal side of the account managing spectrum, courtesy of Jami Oetting from HubSpot:-
Recognise all their constituencies: Meeting the expectations of the agencys senior management is equally important to serving clients. There needs to be a good balance to ensure you serve both communities well.
Communicates well: It can never be stressed enough. Top notch account managers constantly and consistently share the important information, whether thats campaign updates to clients, client insights to team members to use in campaigns, or the state of account health to senior management.
Sees the Forest from the Trees: While they understanding clients different marketing and business goals, they also know where teams are in executing those campaigns. Persuasive account managers identify leading metrics to head off challenges before they become problems.
Gets their hands dirty: They keep their hands dirty by staying current in marketing and their clients industries. They get into the trenches with team members to understand how they are working and where their challenges are.
Avoids a cookie-cutter approach: Because the agency has to stand out as well. A creative account manager validates the agency as a source of expertise that is not restricted to re-running the same campaigns each quarter.
Earns respect: Respect is the foundation of a good relationship. An account manager who builds strong, genuine relationships with people can protect a team from getting committed beyond capacity.
All the aforementioned traits work hand in hand which will increase an account managers credibility. When combined, account managers become valued partners who see the opportunities where the agency can provide more value to clients (Oetting, 2016)
3.0 Account Management vs Sales
There needs to be a clear differentiation between the work of account managers and salespeople. While they may work closely together, each has a very different job scope.
Account Management: They nurture and grow client accounts by checking in on customers and serve as main point of contact and handle upsets and contract renewals when appropriate (Ye, 2018).
Salespeople aka Account Executives: They generally hold pre-sale roles prospecting, presenting, and closing initial client deals (Ye, 2018).
Each role has a different function that looks at different skillsets. Smaller companies may combine the two roles due to tight resources. However, it is viable to separate these two roles, where salespeople focus on bringing in new business and account managers focus on nurturing a growing customer base – it will benefit both in new business numbers and retention rates (Ye, 2018).
With this, account managers and sales representative only share one similarity – they sell product and services. But their key responsibilities and the nature of their customer relationships have significant differences.
Through these assessments, we can determine that account managers definitely play a vital role to an agency. And it is a highly skilled position that requires intelligent people who know how to work with different entities and manage in a way that all different needs and goals are met to one collective objective.
For years the industry has done its damnedest to make account management an unattractive career option. Yet, the industry is now desperate for a new generation of entrepreneurial account people to take up the job. (Mumford, 2012).
And this particular position is not as simple as it looks. The notion that account management is similar to customer service and customer support needs to be put away as there is a heavy responsibility that comes with being an account manager.
Especially in advertising, you need to be the jack of all trades (Stanol, 2018).
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