Account Managers (AMs) are crucial to the success of any sales organization. Once the deal is closed, it’s largely up to the Account Manager to sustain a positive and fruitful relationship with the client; this means that as you scale your team with kick-ass SDRs driving opportunities, you’ll need to bring on more AMs as well to handle the future influx of new clients.
But choosing the right Account Manager is no easy feat, and interviewing candidates can be quite the challenge if you’re not prepared. Read on to learn more about what makes for a great AM and what to keep in mind when interviewing one for your team.
Setting the Account Manager Stage
The main role of an Account Manager is to build and foster relationships with clients, managing both the needs of their company and the expectations of their customers. According to MasterClass, the five main elements of the role are to:
1) promote business development
2) manage client relationships
3) onboard new customers
4) manage team members
5) advocate for their own company’s interest (including renewing, upselling, and cross-selling).
SDRs work to qualify a client’s pain points, interests, and general fit with your company before passing them along to Account Executives, who make the case for how your company’s solution matches the client’s pain point and, hopefully, close the deal. From there, the AM manages the relationship, installation, and ongoing support after the sale, while maintaining a consistent feedback loop with AEs and SDRs to improve the sales process moving forward. Ultimately, the AM’s goal is to keep the client onboard and engaged with your company.
Characteristics of a Good Account Manager
According to Hubspot, successful Account Managers possess the following 6 traits:
1. The ability to manage multiple interests at once.
This means that AMs must be able to serve clients while also catering to your company’s goals. Additionally, they must be able to work closely with the sales team to align on and improve upon the sales process.
2. Good communication.
Perhaps a no-brainer, good Account Managers need to practice effective communication skills in order to manage the interests of clients, your company, and the broader team. They should prioritize listening over talking, and be intentional about getting to the root of any issues that may arise.
3. Attention to detail.
Hubspot describes this trait as being able to “see the forest from the trees.” Essentially, effective AMs are able to see both the macro and the micro at once. They understand the impact of every element as it impacts the project as a whole.
4. A willingness to get (and keep) their hands dirty.
Account Managers must keep their ears to the streets regarding current market trends specific to their client’s industry. They must be willing to get right there in the mud with partners to understand what their obstacles are, before helping to overcome them.
Good AMs go beyond the mundane, everyday approach to management to offer creative solutions for their clients. As they help your company stand out from the crowd, they also help your customers be competitive in their respective industries.
6. The ability to earn respect.
Successful and effective Account Managers present themselves to clients and other team members in an authentic way. Their ability to form genuine, meaningful relationships affords them more influence with stakeholders.
Interviewing for the Account Manager Position
An effective interview process for the Account Manager position is one that takes into account not only a candidate’s sales skills, but also their leadership, communication, and organization skills. You need to know that the candidate can maintain positive relationships with clients while still keeping your company’s best interests at the forefront. They must be able to work well with both internal and external teams, communicating effectively and satisfactorily with both.
When interviewing potential Account Managers, keep these things in mind:
1. Look for solid interpersonal relationship skills.
Since Account Managers work closely with your clients, they are ultimately a representation of your company as a whole. Candidates for this role should be able to speak clearly to how they handle interpersonal relationships. Try something like: “Tell me about a time when you helped a friend or colleague resolve an important issue.” or “How do you build a strong relationship with a partner or vendor?”
2. Assess how they deal with failure.
“Failure,” for an AM, looks like disappointing clients or customers and/or shirking on responsibilities to their company. It happens to everybody in some form—after all, not every client is going to renew—and the main thing to look for here is a clear articulation of the problem and outcome as well as how they rectified and/or learned from it.
3. Get a sense for their coachability.
Though the Account Manager position is a post-sales role, it still requires some coaching, training and mentorship, especially for first-timers. You want to know that even if the person you’re bringing on isn’t perfect, they’re willing to listen, learn, and do what it takes to succeed.
BONUS: Ask candidates about their weaknesses or anticipated shortcomings entering the role, and ask how they plan to overcome these obstacles.
4. Ask about their future goals.
Just as many SDRs look to landing an Account Executive role, many Account Managers have their sights set on more senior roles as well. Understanding a candidate’s career goals will help you tailor their job responsibilities with career development in mind.
5. Hand over the mic.
Don’t forget that the candidate needs to interview you, too. Leave enough time at the end of the interview for them to ask any questions they may have, and get a better sense of whether or not your company is a fit for them.
Vendition Can Help!
Although Vendition is known for having stellar SDR candidates, we also have talent ready to step into the Account Manager role. Connect with us today to learn more!