There is an infinite number of ways to engage with and sell to customers. While many companies are hyper-focused on making the sale, building lasting relationships with customers is an essential aspect of achieving sustainable business growth.
While closing a deal is important, taking a holistic approach to the sales process can unlock greater revenue potential, especially for account-based businesses such as service agencies or companies that sell to enterprise customers.
When establishing a new customer account, the business should perform due diligence to determine if taking the account is in the best interest of the bottom line. This is where account development becomes a helpful function.
What is account development?
Account development organizations are responsible for building and maintaining customer relationships. This is primarily done through the development and implementation of customer engagement programs.
Essentially, account development is the go-to organization for managing the sales process and determining the revenue-generating potential of customer accounts. While some companies have entire teams devoted to account development, it is also common to have one individual in charge of the customer engagement strategy. Individuals in this role are commonly referred to as an account development manager.
Let’s discuss what an account development manager does, and how to become one.
Account Development Manager
Account development managers work with their company’s sales organization to close deals with accounts that meet their ideal customer profile for maximum revenue.
Individuals in this role work with their company’s sales and operations teams to determine the profitability of a customer account. They also develop and implement sales strategies and unique customer offers to generate profits and keep their customers engaged.
Here are the key responsibilities of an account development manager.
1. Establish and maintain customer relationships.
Account development managers spend a great deal of time exploring prospective clients and determining if the account has the potential for growth. To build a solid customer base, account development managers must be excellent and building and maintaining positive relationships with current and prospective customers.
This aspect of the job can include establishing customer engagement programming and addressing customer concerns quickly and effectively to increase their likelihood of coming back for future needs.
2. Determine growth opportunities.
With account-based businesses, the ability to generate new revenue opportunities with existing customers is essential. This can entail identifying add-on services to keep customers engaged after their initial contract ends.
As an example, let’s say an account development manager named Leah works for a major PR agency offering high-touch campaign services for large businesses. Leah has many clients who are interested in launching influencer marketing campaigns and work with her agency to manage influencer relationships.
Leah began conversations with a prospect who wants to launch an influencer marketing campaign, but also has the budget to invest in other avenues. As they negotiate their deal, Leah recommends including podcast advertising to the client’s package to support the client’s advertising goals and to increase potential revenue her agency can earn from the deal.
3. Provide input on ways to improve product performance.
Since account development managers work closely with customers, they have a solid understanding of how well their products are performing once the customer has implemented them. An effective account development manager should be leveraging customer feedback to improve their company’s offerings.
For example, if an account development manager for a SaaS company has received feedback from multiple accounts indicating a sticking point or inefficiency in their software, they can share this feedback with their company’s product team who can develop a solution.
4. Identify potential accounts.
While an account development manager is not solely responsible for prospecting on behalf of their company, they can identify new accounts that could be a good fit for their company’s offerings. To do this effectively, account development managers can leverage referrals from their current customer base, social media, and market analysis.
Once an account development manager has identified accounts that could be a good fit for their business, they can work with their sales organization to introduce the account representative to their sales process.
How to Become An Account Development Manager
Individuals who work as account development managers typically have relevant experience under their belt, as this role is not usually held by entry-level employees.
Common skills and qualifications for account development managers include:
Client management experience — Ultimately an account development manager is responsible for providing an exceptional customer experience on behalf of their company. Effective account development managers need extensive experience in managing client relationships or providing customer service.
Education — Individuals in this role often have a bachelor’s degree in a field of study such as business administration, marketing, or advertising.
Cross-functional communication skills — Account development managers work closely with colleagues in sales, finance, and customer support organizations. They must be able to manage cross-functional partnerships and be able to communicate effectively with individuals from other organizations.
Project management — Since individuals in this role are often tasked with corresponding with multiple customers and accounts, effective project management skills, and the ability to handle multiple deadlines is a must.
Analytical skills — Effective account development managers should be able to strategically review the accounts they are responsible for and are often tasked with analyzing relevant data to make sound business recommendations to support the needs of their customers and company.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for an account development manager in 2020 is $68,394 per year. The level of pay a candidate receives for this role often depends on their level of experience and location.
Embarking on a career as an account development manager can be a challenging, rewarding venture. To prepare for a role in account development, check out The Comprehensive Guide to Account-Based Sales to learn more about strategic account management.
Originally published Aug 17, 2020 8:30:00 AM, updated August 17 2020