8 Key Account Management Skills in Demand Right Now

What skills do key account managers need?

Key account management is a profession in demand. What are the top skills companies are looking for and how do you get good at them?

All this talk about the digital economy. jobs being gobbled up by new technology and millennials set to make up 75% of the workforce might have you worried.  I sure was.

But fear not.

Key Account Managers are in demand by companies now more than ever. LinkedIn recently revealed the most promising jobs and in-demand skills and three customer relationship focused roles made the Top 10

  • #3. Enterprise Account Executive
  • #6. Customer Success Manager
  • #7. Engagement Manager

The five most in demand soft skills:

  • Creativity
  • Persuasion
  • Collaboration
  • Adaptability
  • Time Management
You don't need to be technical to be successful. A survey of 2,000 business leaders confirmed the soft skills most in-demand are leadership, communication, collaboration, and time management. In fact, 57% of them said these soft skills are more important than hard skills ~ LinkedIn

Why are key account management skills back in demand?

Companies are under enormous pressures and need account managers with the right skill set to help them navigate the challenges.

In a 2018 study by Accenture:

  • 80% of companies are concerned with disruption from competitors and new digital-savvy entrants.
  • 80% estimate their data is a mess
  • 50% say their back office can't keep up with the front office.

Most noteworthy from this study is that hiring innovative talent is the top priority for companies.  They need people with entrepreneurial spirit and creativity to find solutions to these challenges.

(HINT: That's you and me)

In addition to us, here's what else they need:

  • Data to make predictive decisions to support business goals. 
  • Customisation and personalisation to be at the heart of the customer experience. 
  • Move to the cloud to improve connectivity and integration. 
  • Smart partnerships with companies already delivering best in class solutions and not developing new ones from scratch.

Innovative talent tops the list of solutions to business challenges. Source: Accenture

Do you want to future proof your career?

Me too.  Accenture says to stay in demand you should improve these skills and add them to your account management skill set.  

1. Entrepreneurial

  • Take risks.
  • Passionate and optimistic.
  • Focused and action-oriented.
  • Think and act like an owner, not an employee.

2. Creativity

  • Develop fresh ideas
  • Challenge the way things are done
  • Look for new solutions to existing problems.
  • Always seeking positive business outcomes. 

3. Leadership

4. Visionary

  • Vision is the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.
  • Develop, communicate and execute your plans.
  • Inspire others
  • Embrace change

5. Strategic

6. Commercial acumen

  • Knowing how to balance business decisions with costs.
  • Finding out what your customers want and need.
  • Learning what your competitors are up to.
  • Understanding the difference between what you could do and what you should do.
  • Assessing risks and opportunities and ensuring positive business outcomes.

7. Influential

  • Adept at growing networks to drive referrals
  • Influencing senior stakeholders and decision makers to improve revenue and retention.
  • Develop internal networks to remove obstacles and bottlenecks.

8. Understand business processes

  • Business processes are collections of linked activities which result in delivering a product or service or accomplish an organisational goal.
  • Ability to find weak links and fix them to avoid problems.
  • Removing steps to make a process more efficient.
  • Know the relationship between inputs and outputs.  What does it cost to deliver the end result?

Take a good long look at that list. Which account management skills leap out at you as strengths and which do you need to develop?

And then a hero comes along

So how do you improve your account management skills?  The best way is to start with a plan. 

STEP 1: Rate yourself for each of the skills.  I use the scale of WEAK - NEEDS IMPROVEMENT - EXPERT

WHY: So you know where to focus and what skills need the most development.

Need help to develop skils in demand right now?

book a career power hour

With the strength to carry on

STEP 2: Write down every success you've ever had in your recent career that showcases each of these skills and how it relates to key account management. 

Turn them into stories with you as the hero

  • What were the challenges?
  • How did you overcome them?
  • Did you encounter any obstacles along the way?
  • What were the results?
  • Is there anything you'd do differently?
  • What did you learn?
  • Include facts and figures as much as you can.  

WHY: So you don’t forget the good stuff in your next performance review or interview when asked: “Tell me about a time when”.  It'll also improve your storytelling and build credibility and authority when engaging with clients, colleagues and leaders because you can clearly articulate your point of view with colourful examples from your career.

And you'll finally see the truth

STEP 3: Identify resources that are going to help you learn.  That could be online courses, books you want to read, relevant blogs or journals, people to talk to or follow and more.

WHY: How else do we learn?   Sure nothing beats experience, but that takes time to acquire.  Staying on top of trends and new ideas means seeking out information.  There's plenty of amazing free content out there but don't shy away from buying a course if it can fast-track your learning.  What's your career worth?

That a hero lies in you

STEP 4: Create your career development plan and commit to spend30 minutes a day to develop your skills.  

Head over to Trello and copy my Key Account Management Career Development Plan.  It’s free to set up an account if you haven’t got one already.

WHY: Without a plan and a commitment, then it's just a list.

Use this as your blueprint to develop your skills as a key account manager.  I’ve already loaded it up with some useful links and free online courses to get you started.

Your curiosity led you to this blog and got you reading this far.  So you're already a step ahead of most account managers.  Keep that thirst for knowledge, it's going to lead you to great success, I'm certain of it. 

Final word

Finally, there are so many easy ways to learn and improve your key account management skills.  Here are some of my favourites:

  • Read books (or better yet listen to them).
  • Search YouTube and Vimeo instead of Google.
  • Ask questions on Quora.
  • Follow thought leaders on Twitter
  • Join relevant LinkedIn groups for account management and your industry
  • Find mentors.
  • Ask your boss for advice.
  • Ask your colleagues for advice. (I'm a big fan of peer learning)
  • Sit next to someone smarter than you (this really works)
  • Take an online course. 
  • Setup Google alerts on topics your interested in.
  • Subscribe to Twitter lists (like this one on Leadership) or set up your own.
  • Read business journals and subscribe to their newsletters.
  • Find podcasts to listen to - and listen to them
  • Follow blogs and subscribe to their RSS feed

If you want to know more about the skills you need or what it takes for a successful career in key account management book a Career Power Hour with me. I'd be delighted to help.

Warwick Brown


Warwick Brown has led business development and account management teams in Australia and Europe for more than 15 years and worked with some of the world's most prestigious firms, including Merck & Co, Deutsche Bank, McKinsey & Company and Vodafone. As the founder at Account Manager Tips, his mission is to help organisations leverage the power of key account management to accelerate client retention and revenue.


Tags

career development, career tips, skill set


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