February 13, 2014

5 Bad Habits Every Account Manager Should Avoid

An account manager’s day can be aptly summed up as a hurricane. Agency life is pretty much a whirlwind of activity surrounding a flurry of deadlines, with an onslaught of stress and pressure.

That’s kind of why we love the job, isn’t it?

People in our kind of jobs are just different – we love the vulnerability of proving ourselves and our work daily; of promising and delivering products and services that grow our client’s business. To come out on the end of delivery and not failure, however, requires much more than intestinal fortitude.

You need good habits! 

We’ve put together a kind of A/B test that allows you to test your daily actions that you can carry into the cubicle every single day to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward.

Here are 5 habits account managers should avoid every single day, and how you can make sure you’re not doing them.

Skimming the details. 

You earn trust by being thorough, not by having great ideas. Bad account managers operate in the world of vague – communicating fluff goals and skirting the questions about implementation and execution. The result of detail-less communication? Frustration, anger, and a client who’s already pretty much exhausted by talking in circles and ready to move on.

Do this: While it’s not reasonable or practical to communicate every detail of projects with your client, select the few details of each project that will make or break its’ success. Report on those details and show your client that you’re progressing toward the major goal by dominating the small tasks. 

Setting vague deadlines.

Missing a deadline is one thing; but not setting one is undeniably offensive. Account managers who refuse to set firm, written-in-ink deadlines are setting themselves up for failure before they even get started. Refuse to drag your feet; set up meaningful project deadlines with your clients and you’ll strengthen your relationship significantly.

Do this:  Determine a reasonable deadline for your project by understanding that the measure of success is quality, not speed.

Responding late to communications.

There are a couple reasons to respond late to emails, and none of those reasons are valid excuses. It doesn’t matter if you’re overwhelmed, confused by the request, or just don’t want to break the bad news – what matters is that you respond in a timely fashion with an action item. You want the client to know that they are being heard, and that their needs are important and not lost in the shuffle.

Do this: Make it your MO to respond to non-urgent needs within a 4-hour time frame during business hours. If you don’t have a good response for the client’s question off-hand, simply send them a note saying that you’re looking into it and you’ll get back to them.

Losing sight of the follow up.

Account managers can quickly lose sight of what’s needed next. A bad account manager will refuse to determine next steps in meetings and quickly settle for the most minimal amount of work required. Want to be a rock-star account manager that your clients love? Be clear about the next steps, and deliver them without fail.

Do this: After every meeting, or every question presented by a client, establish and communicate next steps with solid deadlines. The client will love the tenacity you exhibit to take their project to the next level.

Being unapproachable. 

It’s okay to have a personality, even in the business world. Responding coldly to communications can come off as an affront to the client – subtly communicating that you’re bothered by them, and not interested in them. Take the time to smile, to ask how they are doing, and to actually show them your personality – it really does influence how the client responds to you.

Do this:  Begin every email with a personal introduction. Listen for details about your client’s life through meetings and chats, and make notes to follow-up in following meetings. Don’t be a stalker; just be attentive.

A final thought,

If you’re under the gun, feeling overwhelmed by the pressure and the expectations, start by implementing small habits that will set you up for success. Communicate, set realistic deadlines, follow-up, and be involved and caring with your clients. The best way to quell a hurricane is by protecting yourself with strong habits bent toward success.

What would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments!

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