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Life After Key Account Management? What Happens Next?

What are your options when you’re a key account manager and ready for your next move? To keep yourself motivated and happy in your work, it’s important to switch things up every now and then.

What are your options when you're a key account manager and ready for your next move? 



Life after key account management

Working in the same job for a long time can cause you to feel uninspired. 

To keep yourself motivated and happy in your work, it’s important to switch things up every now and then. 

Some of your career options for key account managers:

  • Strategic Account Manager. Look after bigger, more complex, more prestigious accounts.
  • Global account manager. Manage accounts in multiple regions, where decision making and policies are centrally decided.
  • Manager/Director. Move into leadership roles.
  • Business Development or Sales. Focused on lead generation and account acquisition and growth.
  • Customer Success. Customer success is focused on working proactively in partnership with customers to help them get more value out of your solutions over time. (check out Gain Grow Retain Customer Success Community).
  • Change industries. Maybe you still like your job, just not the industry it's in?
  • Job craft. Take proactive steps and actions to redesign what we do at work, essentially changing tasks, relationships, and perceptions of our jobs


How to prepare for your next career move

If an Account Manager does an awesome job and no-one knows about it, did it even happen?

Forget being a quiet achiever if you want a promotion. Working hard, being good at your job and staying out of trouble won’t get you promoted. The future belongs to those that know how to stand out.

First things first.

You must have demonstrated a basic foundation of credibility and expertise. There’s no chance you'll waltz into a great project or a sweet promotion without mastering your job. If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffling them with bullshit will only get you so far

1. Be consistent at being good

You need to reliable at delivering quality work, on every level. You must have high standards. Don’t settle for “near enough is good enough. If you catch yourself saying that’ll do, then it’s a sure sign it won’t. Create systems that you support you to deliver the best and document them so you can explain your unique way of approaching your role.

2. Become known for knowing something

Account Managers wear many hats, so pick one. Become your teams’ – and your Managers’ – expert. Build your reputation as someone who offers advice and helps solve problems.  You’ll have them lining up in no time for a piece of you. (See episode 17 on Why Smart Key Account Managers Build a Personal Brand)

3. Take on some extra-curricular projects

If there's an opportunity to take part in a special project or you spot a gap you can help close, then volunteer for it. Let your boss know you’d like to take a crack at solving this issue by sharing a problem statement Get aligned and seek permission before you dive straight in.

4. Get your CV in shape

Don't wait until the job of your dreams comes across your radar. Get your CV in shape now. Use Zety professional CV maker. ATS compliant, dozens of formats, and only a few bucks for 14 days access.

5. Ask for advice, not feedback

Claire Lew writes in Unlock honest feedback with this one word that the key to getting honest feedback is to ask for advice. Somehow asking for feedback seems personal and negative. Asking for advice seems more positive, and helpful.

Potato, Potatoe, you say? Give it a try.

It’s also a great way to network internally with people you might rarely interact with:

”I’m giving a presentation to a bunch of [ insert marketing, product, tech, sales, operations etc. ] people and have prepared this pitch on our service. I’d be interested if you have any advice for me.”

6. Credit where it’s due

I was so afraid of turning people off with self-promotion that I’d always say “my team did this” or “I can’t take all the credit”. Then my boss at the time told me:

"Warwick, I've never heard you say "I did this"

In that instant, I realised I had erred too far on the side of caution. To the point that people in the business were beginning to question what it was I actually did all day!

It was my own fault they had no idea.

Be proud of your achievements and don’t be afraid to point them out. Sometimes I find it easier to deliver with a little self-deprecating humour, but I still ensure my colleagues and managers know the part I played.

You’ll be surprised how people respond. They’re usually supportive and energised by your success. 

Don’t claim the spotlight every time – that pisses people off. Often you can simply let the results speak for themselves. However, for the achievements your passionate about, shout it out loud.

7. Become well read

Especially if you want to change industries - subscribe to the McKinsey and Deloitte newsletters, read industry reports, sign up to news feeds like the Guardian or the Washington Post. Create Twitter lists to stay on top of trends (you can follow my Business Trends list)

8. Keep learning

According to Deloitte’s 2021 Global Human Capital Trends, learned skills have a shelf-life of only 5 years after which their obsolete; we need to adopt an “always-on” approach to learning experiences to build skills.


Check these out

+ Gain Grow Retain.  An engaged customer success community for B2B SaaS leaders (or aspiring leaders). A great place to learn about customer success operations, the customer journey, industry insights and even find a job. Lots of crowd sourced templates, presentations and guides as well.

+ So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love. One of my favourite books I read this year. The theory of the book is not to follow your passions; they're usually hobbies and rarely professions that have strong career and earning potential. Instead, get good at what you do because passion comes from mastery. The more experienced and skilled you get, the more challenging and interesting opportunities come your way.

+ The KAM Club. The world's most amazing community of key account manager. Inside you'll find all the tools, templates, guides, workshops, training and coaching you need for a successful career in key account management. 


Quote of the week

"Work to become, not to acquire." ― Elbert Hubbard

Let me know if anything in this article caught your eye, I'd love to hear from you.

Have a great week

Warwick Brown

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Warwick Brown


Warwick Brown is one of the leading key account management experts in the world. Through The KAM Club, a global membership community for key account managers, his blog that reaches 20,000 people every month, and a range of training and coaching services, Warwick has helped thousands of key account managers get better results, faster.
Go here to read Warwick's story from key account manager to entrepreneur. If you want to send Warwick a quick message, visit his contact page here.

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