4 Characteristics That Make and Break an Account Manager

Account management in the marketing agency world is a crucial role in building successful client relationships and driving business growth. Drawing from our extensive experience in the field, we’ll examine common characteristics of outstanding account managers who drive elite performance for their clients – and common pitfalls that prevent AMs from delivering optimal results.

New call-to-action


Account Management Assets

1. Empathy

One of the most important characteristics that make a great account manager is empathy. Understanding and relating to clients on a deeper level allows account managers to grasp their unique needs, challenges, drivers, and goals. Managing with empathy means putting yourself in your client’s shoes and tailoring your solutions, work, and communication to fit. 

This includes making sure you know what your client is responsible for and being aware of items that they might not know in addition to always considering the “why” behind what is being asked vs. the “what.” Being an empathetic account manager also encourages investment in performance, leading to better insights on what they’ll want to celebrate and what might be concerning throughout the relationship. 

2. Being Strategic

Account managers must possess strategic thinking skills to devise effective strategies and campaigns. They use good time management to understand the broader market landscape, analyze client and competitor data, and identify new ideas and opportunities that align with the client’s goals. Being strategic also means calling out what is working and what isn’t so they can effectively drive the next steps as needed.

3. Proactiveness

Proactivity is another key characteristic to becoming a great account manager clients want to work with. Successful account managers anticipate questions and challenges, come prepared with answers and solutions, identify potential roadblocks, communicate performance trends, and take preventative measures. By being proactive, they can ensure both delighted clients and smooth communication and project coordination.

4. Strong Communication

Strong communication is the backbone of any successful account manager-client relationship. Strong communicators articulate performance, insights, and updates clearly and confidently, match their tone to the client’s, and keep them informed throughout their relationship lifecycle. With this open and transparent communication, account managers build trust and lasting partnerships with clients.



Account Management Missteps 

1. Not Understanding the Client

Failure to grasp a client's perspective and needs can be detrimental to the account manager’s client relationship. Without empathy, an account manager may struggle to connect with clients, resulting in miscommunications, unmet expectations, and ultimately, dissatisfied clients. 

You may want to work on being more empathetic if you’re encountering these red flags:

  1. The client regularly repeats themselves
  2. There is a noticeable disconnect in conversation
  3. Responses aren’t in line with the tone of the conversation

2. Not Having an Opinion

Account managers who shy away from being upfront and transparent with clients may hinder goal progress and creative problem-solving. A lack of assertiveness and strategic input can lead to missed opportunities and stagnant campaigns.

You may want to work on being more strategic if you’re encountering these red flags:

  1. The client is driving most of the initiatives and strategies
  2. The client has to ask a lot of probing questions when data or ideas are presented
  3. Regularly saying yes to client strategies without asking questions and providing expertise

3. Not Having a Plan

Without strategic planning, account managers may struggle to keep projects on track and deliver results, leading to lost opportunities and no clear direction.

You may want to work on being more proactive if you’re encountering these red flags:

  1. The client has to ask for updates or confirmation of action
  2. The client calls out changes in performance or issues before we do

4. Always Saying Yes

While accommodating client requests is important, constantly saying “yes” without any consideration to impact, project scope, and feasibility can be a major hindrance to client relationship success. Account managers who fail to communicate realistic expectations may encounter difficulties in meeting client demands, leading to delays or missed results.

You may want to work on being a stronger communicator if you’re encountering these red flags:

  1. No communication is happening between calls
  2. The client has to ask for a lot of clarification
  3. The client gets confused by an update
  4. Communicating passively or not acting as an expert



Wrap Up

Being an exceptional account manager requires a delicate balance of honing key characteristics that will drive success while also being aware of opportunities to improve – all while learning and testing the newest developments in digital marketing. At JDM, extensive training in account management is the foundation of success for our clients. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how our experts can help grow your business, drop us a line.

The Ultimate Growth-Stage Marketing Guide - Download Now

Recent Articles

How to Run a Virtual Meeting from Home

There seems to be a lot of mixed feelings about working from home.

For some, it’s a work dream...

Featured Snippet Deduplication and Content Removals - Backlink Breaker #30

Test paralysis. So many teams I’ve worked with have suffered from this problem. They simply...

Major Takeaways from Years of Performance Marketing Account Audits

We’ve been doing performance marketing account audits for prospective new JDM clients since our...