What Is an Account Manager?

What Is an Account Manager?

An account manager is an entry- to mid-level employee who is responsible for the day-to-day management of a particular customer's account within a business. An account manager is often more interested in the client satisfaction aspect of a business relationship instead of explicitly trying to generating sales.

Key Takeaways

  • An account manager is the business representative with whom a client has the most one-on-one interaction within a company.
  • Companies use account managers to ensure that customers feel that their needs are being met.
  • Often, this employee will have some type of financial or business background and, typically, would also have some kind of related college degree.
  • While a salesperson is responsible for closing the initial deal, the account manager handles the relationship after the deal is secured.
  • According to Payscale, the average base pay for an account manager is just under $58,000 (not including additional benefits).

Understanding an Account Manager

An account manager is generally the business representative with whom the client has the most one-on-one interaction. This staff member oversees the daily, routine tasks involved with addressing the customer’s needs and concerns and maintaining their account activities.

It is common for an account manager to serve a variety of different roles. They often need to adjust their focus depending on the client’s particular situation, and how satisfied that client is with their current account status. The account manager would frequently serve as a combination of a salesperson, customer service representative, technical specialist, and financial advisor.

The account manager is a point of contact and provides customer support, upselling, technical assistance, and general relationship management. An account manager may be in charge of a number of smaller accounts or may instead focus on a few larger accounts.

Account Manager Responsibilities

Companies use account managers to ensure that customers feel that their needs are being met. It is generally less expensive to keep existing clients than to seek new clients to replace those that have defected as a result of inadequate customer service. In other words, focusing on retention can offer a significant return on investment for financial firms, and most businesses in general.

Once a company has invested the money and resources involved in initially acquiring a customer or client, it is to that company’s great advantage to do everything in its power to ensure that client remains satisfied so they do not decide to take their business elsewhere.

Account managers work closely with the sales team to ensure that it is clear what products or services the client has purchased and that those products and services fit the client's needs. Depending on the specific type of account and the nature of the client’s needs and concerns, the account manager may also serve as a liaison or go-between with other teams or staff members who may have some relation to or impact on the client’s account.

In addition to maintain knowledge on customers, an account manager often maintains knowledge on competitors to best understand how external factors may influence business with their customer.

Account Manager Career Path

Account managers often have a background in business, marketing, or communications. They often have a bachelor's degree and usually hold more entry-level customer service roles directly out of college. Account managers may also emphasize landing experience in interpersonal roles that allow them to develop softer skills such as organization, communication, and professionalism.

As account managers see to enhance their career, they may seek to obtain credentials through the Strategic Account Management Association. In addition, account managers may be further promoted into senior position and tasked with either managing more clients or focusing on higher, more important clients.

Promotion above the role of account manager is generally to Director of Accounts or Director of Account Management and to Vice President of Account Management. These roles coordinate the activities of the account managers and are part of the leadership team of a company.

Individuals interested in becoming an account manager should be mindful that the role require substantial travel to clients.

Account Manager Salary and Benefits

The specific duties, qualifications, and salary level of a particular account manager can vary widely, depending on the type of business and the clientele served by that firm. Often, this employee will have some type of financial or business background and typically would also have some kind of related college degree. Those with advanced or specialized qualifications would likely be able to command a higher salary.

According to Payscale, an account manager earns an average base salary of just under $58,000 per year. Account managers with less than one year of experience earn closer to $46,000 per year while account managers with at least 10 years of experience earn more than $64,000 per year.

Payscale data also suggests that account managers earn a total compensation package between $38,000 and $94,000 per year. Additional compensation is comprised of bonuses, profit sharing, or commissions. This does not account for common non-financial benefits such as remote work flexibility, vacation hours, or health insurance.

Sales vs. Account Management

Account management may often be confused with a sales position. Though salespeople and account managers may have overlapping responsibilities, each has its own set of responsibilities.

Most often, salespeople are responsible for attracting new customers. This includes cold-calling individuals, contacting prospective clients, and considering new ways for business development to cater to new people. During the sale process, they collect information about the clients including personal data, hobbies, interests, and business needs.

Then, as the salesperson closes a deal, the business relationship may be transitioned over to the account manager. A formal transition occurs when the salesperson briefs the account manager about the information obtained and relationships status. The account manager is then tasked with maintaining the relationship, ensuring the customer's needs are being continually met or that the customer is aware of new product introductions.

What Does an Account Manager Do?

An account manager handles the affairs of specific customers that have already engaged in business with a company. After a salesperson has closed a deal, they transition the relationship with the customer to an account manager. The account manager ensures the needs of the customer are met, fosters the relationship, and seeks ways to drive additional business with the client.

Is an Account Manager a Hard Job?

An account manager job may not be difficult for individuals with strong interpersonal and communication skills. Being an account manager entails forging relationships with others. Individuals more interested in technical, analytical roles may find an account manager role more difficult.

How Much Do Account Managers Get Paid?

According to Payscale, an account manager earns an average base pay of $58,000. In addition, an account manager may earn bonuses, commission, or profit-sharing proceeds.

Is an Account Manager an Accountant?

An account manager is different than an accountant. An accountant is an individual who oversees the financial records of a company, while an account manager oversees the relationships with customers.

The Bottom Line

Once a customer has been secured, it is vitally important that a company maintain the relationship with that customer. An account manager is the person responsible for fostering that relationship. By connecting with customers, developing their connection to the company, and making sure their business needs are being met, the company can save on new customer acquisition costs and increase the odds of repeat business.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Payscale. "Average Account Manager Salary."

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