The 5 Skills of World-Class Key Account Managers

Category: Management Training
By: Nikki Kuliczkowski

Today, key account managers need to be more than sales professionals. Competition is more aggressive, customers are more rigorous in their buying decisions, and many industries are showing slow-to-no growth. In this more complex marketplace, the role of sales professionals is evolving to require a broader set of sales skills.

Specifically, account managers who manage key customers need to operate with more of a general manager” skill set.

What does that mean for you as a world-class key account manager? It means that you:

1.      Manage your mind – Be aware of the obstacles you may come across and how you naturally respond. You must work through adversity, ambiguity, and complexity to reach your goals. This starts with controlling your own negative, counterproductive reactions and rising above them, by self-managing.

2.      Think strategically – Standing out and bringing unique value to customers requires you to make strategic choices on what to do and, importantly, what not to do. It also requires a keen, objective view of your company’s unique points of difference / competitive advantage.

3.      Lead to inspire others – Even though many account managers aren’t formal people leaders, the best have the ability to harness internal resources by leading and influencing without authority. Go above and beyond to inspire other team members – and non-team members – to follow you.

4.      Apply business acumen – You need to be clear on how your business makes money and how your customer’s business makes money. But that's not enough. You also need to apply this knowledge by making decisions that are financially smart for you and your customer.

5.      Communicate with influence – We live in a world full of internal and external distractions that vie for our attention. Articulating ideas and recommendations concisely, credibly, and confidently will help you break through the clutter and influence the actions of others.

And here’s the really great thing: Thinking like a general manager in your job as a key account manager will make YOU the point of difference in an increasingly challenging marketplace.