An Indefinite Definition
Part of the reason that “account manager” might sound somewhat vague to the untrained ear is that it really can mean a variety of things, depending on the industry. At base, it is essentially, of course, a sales job, but an account manager for a cable company is obviously selling something different than one selling for an advertising agency.
Fundamentally, however, an account manager can be defined as follows: a sales representative who is responsible for the account of a major customer or for a collection of major accounts. In effect, then, whatever industry they are in, account managers all do the same thing: they are high-level salespeople. One might work for IBM at selling computer systems to a major bank, while another might work for a flooring manufacturer at selling products to Home Depot, but whatever they sell, account managers are fundamentally salesmen and saleswomen.
The Responsibilities of an Account Manager
Of course, we can go a little deeper than just saying that being an account manager means having a sales job. Obviously, one sales job is not the same as any other sales job. A door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman has a sales job, but it’s certainly quite a bit different from what the average account manager does.
An account manager, for one thing, is quite a bit higher on the sales job totem pole. That’s not a knock on door-to-door salesmen — all great salespeople have to start somewhere — just an acknowledgement that, as sales jobs go, schlepping vacuums from house to house is probably a little less attractive than what the typical account manager has to do.
Which is not to say that being an account manager is a sales job without pressures and stresses of its own. An account manager at an advertising agency, for example, would be responsible for a host of major decisions and dealings relating to a major client.
Say, for example, that such an account manager was managing an account for American Airlines. Well, not only would the account manager, with the help of the firm’s creatives, probably have had to land the account in the first place, but he or she would also be tasked with helping to sell specific ad campaign ideas to the airline, negotiating both the prices and numbers of ads that the client was willing to buy. For such a major client, that might mean millions of dollars in sales for the agency, and of course, if the account were lost due to some mistake on the part of the account manager…well, he or she might need to start looking for another sales job.
In short, being an account manager is one sales job that isn’t always a walk in the park. That said, the benefits of the job can certainly make it well worth any pressures.
The Rewards for an Account Manager
According to Salary.com, the national average salary for an account manager is right around $100,000. Of course, less experienced account managers, and those selling for smaller firms, may make less, but on the other hand, account managers at the 90th percentile of the pay scale can expect to make about $134,000 per year.
In other words, an account manager position is one sales job that offers rich rewards, indeed. What’s more, these jobs are out there by the thousands, just waiting for you to apply. Right here at SellingCrossing.com, for example, a job search for “account manager” just yielded 14,410 matches. That’s a sales jobs bonanza, giving every aspiring account manager plenty of shots at scoring the sales job he or she has been searching for.