Key Account Manager: What They Do and How To Become One

This Key Account Manager job description template is optimized for posting on online job boards or careers pages and easy to customize for your company.

Key account managers work with a company’s biggest (i.e., most important) customers to build long-term, strategic partnerships. This role requires a range of skills from closing sales and nurturing relationships to strategic planning and cross-functional leadership.

What is Key Account Management (It’s Not What You Think)

What does a key account manager do?

Some of the most common responsibilities for key account managers are:

What is a key account manager?

Key account managers handle the relationship between an organization and its most important clients. Given the fact that many companies have a small number of clients who contribute to a large percentage of the organizations revenue, the role of the key account manager is typically very important, as they need to create and maintain a strong professional relationship with those clients.

Keeping clients satisfied and engaged usually depends on how efficient the communication is with them on key matters, how their needs are anticipated and met and by meeting set deadlines. Aside from ensuring a positive relationship with important clients, the key account manager is also responsible for generating new business from these clients and prospecting the market for new potential clients.

How to become a key account manager

Consider these steps on your way to a career in key account management:

1. Earn a bachelors degree

Most key account managers have at least a bachelors degree in a related field, such as sales, communications, business management, customer relationship management, marketing, business administration or other similar ones. Although this is not an official prerequisite and in some cases, a lack of a degree can be compensated with relevant job experience, employers tend to prefer candidates with degrees.

2. Gain relevant work experience

Candidates for key account manager roles usually need to have at least three years of experience in an adjacent position. Some of the most relevant positions for a future career in key account management are in sales, marketing and account management. You can start from an internship or entry-level position and focus on gaining the necessary skills, such as customer communication, presentation, networking, negotiation and others.

3. Earn a masters degree

Some hiring companies tend to differentiate between key account manager candidates with similar experience and background by prioritizing those with masters degrees. Earning a masters degree in business administration or any other related field, before, during or after finding an entry-level job in the field, can set you apart from the competition.

4. Start applying for key account manager jobs

Once you have acquired the necessary education and work experience, you can start looking for a key account manager job. If you have been working in a lower position at a company, it may be a good career move to enquire about a promotion to a key account manager role. Alternatively, you can look for open positions through networking, job sites or directly contacting companies that may require a key account manager.

Skills for key account managers

Some of the most important skills for a successful key account manager are:

FAQ

What is the difference between key account manager and account manager?

Overall, becoming a key account manager is a great career option for people who want to work with people on a regular basis. It is also a good option for people who want to make good money and have lots of opportunities for professional growth.

What is a good key account manager?

Typically, Key Account Managers (KAM) oversee the largest customers in your company whereas account managers are responsible for looking after the rest of your customers. Both the account managers and key account managers are a part of the sales team and often works closely with the support and customer success team.

What is the difference between key account manager and sales manager?

A successful Key Account Manager is: Empathetic – deeply understand the goals, drivers, and needs of others. Service-oriented – ready to go the extra mile for their clients. Strategic – doesn’t get trapped in the weeds, understands the bigger picture.

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