What does an Account Manager do in a software development company?
Every software development agency out there relies on the skills of both technical and business teams. Project managers, team leaders, and account managers are all critical roles that help to bring development projects to success.
Are you looking to team up with a software development company and what to how this type of organization operates and what the account manager role is all about?
Or maybe you’d like to launch a career in the tech industry in the position of an account manager?
To help you out, here’s a detailed guide to the role of account manager in a software development company.
Read this article to learn:
- what an account manager does,
- what the key responsibilities of this role are,
- what skills an account manager needs,
- and what the potential career paths for account managers are.
1. Who is an account manager? What does an account manager do?
Account managers play a critical role in retaining existing clients and key customers. The main responsibility of an account manager is managing the client’s expectations, overseeing the process of delivery, and ensuring that the client’s needs are met in a timely fashion.
2. Key responsibilities of an account manager
An account manager serves as a single point of contact for the client. Clients are usually more comfortable when they’re talking about their requirements to one person. When you’re asking clients to repeat themselves to several different people, you might easily disrupt the workflow. Having the client speak only one person is less confusing and creates a smoother.
The core responsibility of an account manager is managing the client’s project from the beginning to the end. They not only establish and maintain a professional relationship with the client but also continue assessing their needs and business objectives as the project progresses. Account managers often help in developing initiatives for increasing customer satisfaction and retention.
The sales cycle for technology products is usually long and complex, involving different decision-makers at every stage. Account managers are responsible for identifying the information and resource requirements for these stages, such as proposal, customer evaluation, and supplier selection. They also ensure that their company achieves the best position as a supplier for a given client.
Confidence and trust
An account manager is a person responsible for building a relationship with the client. Smart account managers know how to forge stronger relationships with customers, increasing their loyalty, and building trust.
Account managers help clients to implement the software at their company. They streamline the process that allows the customer to shape the software so that it’s perfectly in line with their unique requirements. The account manager also shares knowledge and helps the customer build a stronger business. This is the foundation for creating a long-lasting relationship.
Another key responsibility of an account manager is coordinating various teams to make sure that the client’s expectations are met. This role assists all the teams to meet their financial targets and growth objectives. An account manager also helps the company management in formulating broader-picture strategic planning.
3. What skills do account managers need?
The exact skills an account manager needs to have might differ from company to company but also across different industries. Here are a few universal account management skills that prove essential to this role:
- Outstanding verbal and written communication skills,
- Ability to work well under pressure,
- Excellent people skills and intuition about the customers’ business needs,
- Ability to deal calmly with any customer complaints or problems,
- Ability to work independently and collaborate with the team successfully,
- Strategic thinking,
- Problem-solving skills,
- Leadership skills.
Account managers who perform their role in the IT industry need a few other skills:
- Domain knowledge – smart account managers realize what it takes to build successful digital products. They can advise their customers at every stage of software development and manage their expectations accordingly, drawing on the best industry practices and standards. Knowledge of common technology challenges – the most successful account managers are the ones who can understand the needs of their customers. Being aware of the challenges companies face today is an invaluable skill for account managers working in IT. After all, they’re the ones who navigate the relationship with a supplier who will be helping the customer to solve problems and optimize their operations.
- Knowledge about recent technology trends – to be successful in IT, an account manager needs to carefully observe technology trends, especially the ones related to the client’s business goals and target audience.
- A good understanding of project management methodologies – software development companies usually implement industry standards and methodologies such as agile or Scrum. The knowledge of such project management techniques allows account managers to understand how the project could be better adapted and realized within the deadline and budget constraints.
4. Formal requirements for account manager positions
As an account manager, you need to meet a number of requirements and bring specialized skills to the table:
- A bachelor’s degree or higher in a related business field such as business administration, marketing, communications, sales, business management, and others.
- Experience in marketing, sales, account management. Most of the time, companies are going to ask for 3 to 5 years of significant experience.
- Account managers are usually expected to have experience in working with customer relationship management (CRM) systems or having experience working in a junior position in the account management department.
- Collaboration and interpersonal skills – an account manager is a role that requires building and maintaining relationships with a number of clients. That’s why you need to show strong interpersonal skills and the ability to collaborate with others easily.
Note: IT is a highly competitive environment. That’s why the requirements for account manager positions in technology companies are higher than usual and require the skills mentioned in the section above.
5. Potential career paths for account managers
When planning your career, upward movement is an essential factor to count in. Before taking on the job, account managers usually should check what sort of upward mobility options their organization offers.
It usually depends on the size and scope of the organization. Larger organizations tend to offer a clear career path through one department. However, not every software development company is large enough to dedicate so many resources to one area and build an account management department. If the scope of the company is limited, you might move into another apartment altogether.
Here are a few options for potential career paths in account management.
The easiest path for most account managers is through the sales department. Note that account management is not strictly a sales function, although it’s usually closely related to this area. Creating a strong strategic partnership with clients requires a lot of collaboration with the sales team. That’s why a successful account manager might land a managerial role in the sales department, from a more senior position and director of sales or VP of sales.
If a software development company has an account management department, this is one of the most obvious career paths. An account manager will be a good candidate to move to a more senior position in this department. Most of the time, they will become a senior account manager or national account manager.
One of the critical responsibilities of an account manager is understanding the customer’s needs and organizational structure. That’s why business development is a viable career path for account managers. This type of knowledge and experience helps them to find an approach to engage business leaders and even direct a team of business development agents. As a result, they might become a business development manager or director.
Some account managers end up in the operations manager position. This kind of jump requires a more significant horizontal change than the other career paths we’ve mentioned so far. Operations and account management don’t have many things in common. However, this option is often offered by smaller organizations. Since they usually provide fewer opportunities for upward movement, such a position in operations might become available to talented account managers.
Account management is a critical area in every software development company. After all, navigating the customer relationships and keeping tabs on the rapidly changing customer needs is critical to success.
If you’d like to learn more about the different roles in software development agencies and how they translate into success, keep a close eye on our blog – we share insights about what it takes to have a successful career in IT and what business owners should know about how software development companies work before teaming up with them.