How To Become A Relationship Manager: A Step-By-Step Guide

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 2022

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.

A relationship manager builds and preserves trusting relationships with customers for a company and its clients. Relationship managers usually have excellent communication, problem-solving and analytical skills, and they often collaborate with sales and marketing teams. Knowing more about these professionals and their career paths can help you decide if this career option is right for you. In this article, we discuss how to become a relationship manager, define the job role and explore their responsibilities and skills.

Related: What Is A Customer Relationship Manager? (Duties And Skills)

What Is A Relationship Manager?

A relationship manager is a professional responsible for developing and maintaining strong relationships with others, both inside and outside of the company. These professionals seek new opportunities for their clients while advising them on products or services that best fit their requirements. A relationship manager fosters positive relationships with customers and clients to generate or increase customer base and revenue.

Related: What Is A Marketing Manager? Definition, Roles And Skills

How To Become A Relationship Manager

To decide on how to become a relationship manager, the first step is to consider the qualifications essential for being successful at the job. Choosing the right major in a related field is important. Many relationship manager jobs require experience in a role, such as a customer service representative, account executive or personal banker. It is also advisable to strengthen customer service and relationship-building skills in an entry-level role in sales, customer service or administration. Here are the steps you can follow to become a relationship manager:

1. Learn about the types of relationship managers

There are mainly two types of relationship managers which are important to know before you pursue a career in this field. These two types include:

Client relationship managers

These professionals mostly work with senior executives, sales managers or employees who influence sales decisions for a business. They help develop trust and value between their company and clients. This makes the role important to ensure client retention. These relationships are mostly based on trust, which makes it imperative that a relationship manager uses an honest approach while working with clients. When a customer does business with a company because of their reliance on the relationship manager, it becomes the responsibility of the relationship manager to ensure meeting their requirements.

Business relationship managers

Business relationship managers facilitate communication between their company and other corporations, the suppliers and other external entities. These professionals help to track product shipments, create budgets, estimate costs, supervise purchases and any other aspects of a company's economics that interact with another corporate entity. They also communicate with other businesses to make transactions, create trustworthy relationships and enhance the reputation of their company. They also organise community outreach initiatives to improve the image of their company in the local communities. Business relationship managers monitor trends, analyse data, foster communications, draw contracts and take part in the negotiation process.

2. Gain experience in customer service

A relationship manager's primary responsibility is to provide excellent customer service. Versatility in managing different situations and queries is usually a result of accumulating customer service job experience. Good relationship managers can identify the issues of the customer and provide resolutions successfully to ensure they receive satisfactory service, which is important for the reputation of a company. For example, if a customer is upset or irate because of a service or product-related matter, it is the duty of relationship managers to identify them and provide mutually acceptable solutions. Exemplary customer service is key to becoming a successful relationship manager.

Related: Contract Manager Vs. Project Manager (With Definitions)

3. Work on negotiation skills

Negotiation skill is a basic requirement for a position of a relationship manager, and it is a common responsibility of a relationship manager. Part of building and maintaining a relationship with a client or customer on behalf of the company is providing them with their requirements while also being able to work within the organisational framework and guidelines.

Negotiation skills also help offer solutions that can resolve the problem while simultaneously maintaining a positive working relationship. This skill can also be useful for business relationship managers, as they negotiate contracts with vendors regularly for supplies and to maintain company expenses.

4. Work on communication skills

To maintain a good relationship with clients and customers, effective communication is important. A relationship manager facilitates the exchange of information between the company and other corporations, the suppliers and any other outside entities. They also ensure timely product shipments, purchases and any other aspects of a business' economics that involve another corporate entity. These professionals also frequently communicate with other businesses to make transactions, create trustworthy relationships and improve the reputation of their company.

If you are looking to develop or improve your communication abilities, you can consider enrolling in skill enhancement programmes to do so successfully.

Related: Communication Skills In Leadership: Importance And Benefits

5. Learn to use customer relationship management (CRM) tools

To build a career as a relationship manager, it is advisable to learn to work on CRM tools. CRM tools help relationship managers to have an organised approach, enhance their communication abilities, provide automation for some of their tasks and provide them with the analytical data for reporting. Experience in CRM can help a prospective relationship manager get preference from the hiring managers over those who may not have it.

6. Earn a related bachelor's or master's degree

To build a career as a relationship manager, it is advisable to have a bachelor of business administration (BBA) in finance, business, accounting, business administration, economics or marketing or a related field. These courses provide theoretical knowledge of the work that a relationship manager may have to do on the job. The courses impart students with knowledge in fields like advertising, customer acquisition, accounting, data analysis and public speaking.

Having a Master of Business Administration (MBA) may help you distinguish yourself from the competition and gain a competitive advantage, which can increase the chances of getting hired for a suitable job.

7. Get certified

A certification specifically meant for relationship management can give an added advantage over other candidates during the job application process. Professional certifications mainly focus on the specifics of the profession that can be beneficial while working as a relationship manager. Certification courses may help you learn how to develop strategic relationships with others and understand the value businesses have, how to understand and work with organisational change and get a team to become a part of the solution, among others.

Responsibilities Of A Relationship Manager

Relationship managers have many duties and responsibilities, some of them are:

  • Enhance income and productivity

  • Find and bring in new clients through their own efforts or through recommendations

  • Maintain current business relationships with clients or other external parties.

  • Create innovative customer acquisition strategies

  • Manage any issues that a client may bring to the company

  • Assist clients with any issues that may arise throughout the course of a business relationship

  • Examine data-driven business trends to find methods to improve their company's customer approach or business strategy

  • Speak with a customer to learn about their requirements

  • Perform a competition study to discover more about their client base and how they handle customers' complaints

  • Establish mutually beneficial partnerships

  • Identify important personnel in client firms

  • Promote high-quality sales, supply and customer service operations by forwarding up-selling and cross-selling possibilities to the sales team

Skills Of A Relationship Manager

Relationship managers may require having different soft and hard skills, depending on experience and organisation. Some of them are:

  • Great communication skills and knowledge to help their clients and strengthen the relationship between the organisation and the consumers

  • Experience in adding value to each relationship through an understanding of that client's professional and personal goals

  • An experience in regular traffic-building activities like intellectual property development, service offering creation, industry-focused events and development of academic relationships

  • Experience in putting together teams with the right mix of skills, experience and backgrounds depending on the client's requirements and working with individual team members to encourage and motivate them

  • Experience in building positive relationships with team members through regular and effective communication

  • Experience in creating a positive learning experience for team members

  • Generating new opportunities with existing and new clients

  • A proven track record of working in customer service

  • Experience in customer relationship management (CRM) practices

  • Experience in sales or customer service

  • A problem-solving attitude

  • An aptitude for fostering positive relationships

  • Teamwork and leadership skills

  • Customer-oriented mindset

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