What Does A Key Account Manager Do? (And How To Become One)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 13 March 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Key account managers are crucial for the sustained success of a business. These professionals retain important customers through customer relations and strategic planning. If you aspire to become a key account manager, then you may benefit from understanding what they do in an organisation. In this article, we discuss what a key account manager does, their main responsibilities and the skills and qualifications required to become one.

What does a key account manager do?

A key account manager addresses different types of client needs and builds strong relationships with them. They try to promote solutions, products and services in ways that benefit both businesses and their clients. This role may require you to make sales, build relationships, plan strategically and lead a team of executives.

A key account manager usually works with high-value customers or clients who generate a significant amount of the profit of an organisation. They help companies maintain a brand image, improve sales and build customer loyalty. They manage the company's communication with clients and optimise customer service processes to keep clients happy. Key account managers may also supervise general sales tasks, perform sales reviews, follow up on customer support enquiries and maintain regular contact with clients.

Key account manager job description

A key account manager is a professional in an organisation who builds and maintains relationships with major clients, to retain them for extended periods of time. They develop an extensive understanding of an organisation's client base and their needs. They engage with the clients, often resolving issues and suggesting solutions to routine problems they face. A key account manager may be able to comprehend the needs of a client and tailor products or services that meet their specific requirements.

Related: What Is Account Management? (With Benefits And Skills)

Responsibilities of a key account manager

Here are some common responsibilities of key account managers:

  • Developing and maintaining a portfolio of high-value clients.

  • Understanding the needs and requirements of clients.

  • Trying to build long-standing professional relationships with clients to create a mutually beneficial environment.

  • Ensuring that a company does not lose clients to competitors.

  • Proposing solutions to a client's problems and implementing them within reasonable timelines.

  • Ensuring the timely delivery of products and services to clients.

  • Acting as a channel of communication between clients and the employees of an organisation.

  • Resolving customer complaints promptly to maintain trust.

  • Identifying high-value clients and developing strategies to build relationships with them.

  • Researching market trends and generating more sales.

  • Preparing and presenting regular reports to internal and external stakeholders.

  • Developing long-term strategies for client retention and making plans to implement them.

Skills required for a key account manager

If you want to pursue a career as a key account manager, consider developing these skills:

1. Leadership skills

A key account manager typically occupies leadership roles. They manage clients and supervise employees at various levels of business. They may take important decisions regarding customer relations and sales. They may adopt a confident and commanding demeanour to carry out all their duties efficiently.

Related: Leadership Roles (With Examples And Functions Of Leadership)

2. Management skills

Key account managers may possess excellent management skills. They may be responsible for creating and maintaining a portfolio of the major clients of an organisation. They may demonstrate extensive knowledge about a company, its products and services.

Read more: Management Skills: Definition And Examples

3. Decision-making prowess

Informed, timely decision-making may be essential in the role of a key account manager. They evaluate a business situation, consider all relevant factors and make decisions that benefit clients and company stakeholders. They may also take crucial decisions that affect product development, sales management and marketing processes.

4. Communication skills

A key account manager may routinely communicate with a number of clients over the phone, in person and through emails. They benefit from possessing excellent verbal and written communication skills that aid their tasks. They empathise with customers to understand their concerns, maintain trust, communicate concerns to internal staff and collaborate in resolving issues.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions And Examples

5. Interpersonal skills

The role of a key account manager is typically people-centric. They manage members in their team, liaise with other departments and interact with major clients. They try to maintain a comfortable working relationship with all concerned parties.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

6. Customer expertise

One of the primary goals of a key account manager is to nurture professional relationships with top account holders. A key account manager may possess an extensive knowledge of a company and its customer base. This enables them to identify the best opportunities for business growth. They communicate back and forth with company representatives and clients, facilitating lucrative business opportunities that benefit both parties.

7. Strategy

Key account managers may try to develop long-term relationships with their clients. They may juggle many tasks, working with numerous clients and stakeholders. Unlike a sales executive who focuses on short-term results, a key account manager may develop long-term strategies to create and maintain beneficial collaborations.

Qualifications for a key accounts manager

A bachelor's degree is the minimum qualification to pursue a career as a key accounts manager. You may pursue a bachelor's degree in sales, business management, communications, marketing or customer relationship management to develop the knowledge base you may require on the job. Having relevant work experience in customer service or sales is an added advantage. You can start your career as an entry-level employee in sales, customer service or communications. After acquiring the necessary experience in creating client-focused solutions, you can advance to a key account manager position.

How to become a key account manager

Follow these steps to start a career as a key accounts manager:

1. Pursue a bachelor's degree

After completing higher secondary education, a candidate can pursue a bachelor's degree in business administration, management, accounting, sales or marketing to become a key account manager. You can also take diploma courses to supplement your undergraduate education. These certifications can greatly improve your career growth prospects. Popular professional courses include:

  • B.Com (Bachelor of Commerce) in Sales and Marketing

  • BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration)

  • BA (Bachelor of Arts) in Retail Sales and Marketing

  • B.Sc. (Bachelor of Science) in Marketing and Management

2. Gain work experience

Besides education, you may also need relevant work experience to get into administrative positions. Key account manager may not always be an entry-level position and you can start your career as a trainee in sales or marketing departments. This can provide hands-on experience managing a variety of clients and working in client-facing roles. You may also gain some accounting experience, which can be helpful in a key account manager role.

Related: How To Write Work Experience On Your CV

3. Consider a master's degree

Although not mandatory, having a postgraduate degree can give you a competitive edge in a job search scenario. You can acquire master's level education to hone your skills and expand your knowledge. An MBA (Master of Business Administration) degree focusing on sales and marketing, operations management or sales management may be highly beneficial for this job role. In addition to this, there are many post-graduate diploma programs that you can pursue to advance a career in this field. You can also take courses from popular online learning sites like Udemy and Coursera. Popular diploma courses include:

  • PGDM (Post-Graduate Diploma in Management) in Operations Management

  • DAM (Diploma in Account Management)

  • PGD (Post-Graduate Diploma) for Professional Account Manager

Key accounts manager work environment

A key account manager's job typically happens in-office, though sometimes they may travel to meet clients, conduct research or promote sales. They typically work in sales heavy sectors like finance and insurance. They work in a company's main offices to oversee major accounts and manage an executive team. A key account manager may perform a variety of tasks like project management, strategic planning, relationship management and sales documentation. They coordinate with different departments to ensure the smooth progress of business activities.

Read more: What Is Strategic Planning And How To Do It In 6 Steps

How much does a key account manager make?

The salary of a key account manager can vary depending on a variety of factors. This includes their geographic location, the company they work for and their academic or professional qualifications. The average base salary of an accounts manager is ₹3,64,666 per year.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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