Is clarity needed about who owns the account? Is it the client or the account manager? That should be obvious shouldn’t it? Well in an ideal world, it should be the person responsible, but unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world and I’ve seen this “ideal” challenged numerous times. Such challenges are detrimental to the relationship and should be clarified for both the good of the client or account as well as the company.
So what do I mean by challenges? When I worked for a particular agency, management did not make it clear who owned the account. Normally, the guideline would be whoever owned the account plan was the account responsible. However, we didn’t have an account plan!
The Chief Creative Officer or people from Operations would often have meetings without the knowledge of the account manager, and not even feel the need to inform the account manager that they were going, had gone and what decisions may or may not have been made.
So I suppose it shouldn’t have been a surprise that failing to see the importance of an account manager’s role, the agency removed account managers altogether and put the project or operations managers in charge of the client interface.
So what’s wrong with other people seeing the account? Don’t we want as many people involved as possible? Then why is this a problem?
Well yes, we do want others involved, but the account needs to know who brings them the decisions and why, even if they don’t necessarily make all the decisions. There has to be one person that has the authority and the responsibility for the client. If there’s no lead, the account gets confused about communication and as a result they get mixed messages.
This provided major confusion to the client as unqualified people who had no idea how to communicate, coordinate, or follow-up were suddenly in their offices.
The account manager should invite other people to meetings. A good account manager will anticipate the need for more people to interface and coordinate in a systematic and organized manner.
What the agency failed to grasp is that an account manager role demands very different skills and abilities than creative artists or project managers. They build relationships and coordinate the most effective interpersonal communication for the benefit of both their company and the account. They are the ultimate facilitator.
So if there is organizational confusion around account ownership, not only will the client relationship suffer, but also account managers’ morale will suffer, and can result in unnecessary unwanted turnover of account managers.
High sales talent turnover will also hurt account relationships and make them vulnerable to competitive displacement or sub-optimized revenue streams.
Clarity of an account manager’s role is imperative in building and maintaining the all-important relationships with our key customers. The account manager role should be seen as the glue that holds those relationships together, externally as well as internally.
Is your client or account clear as who is their account manager? Is there any confusion as to who is responsible thereby hindering the building of the partnership?