Focused, quality leadership is present in all professional settings, from the smallest startups to the largest multinational corporations. As a result, there are a variety of career paths associated with management and the business goals of customer satisfaction, fiscal success and professional development. This career profile series will explore job opportunities available to those looking to help make an impact through managerial stewardship.
How important is a manager to the success of his or her department? That varies depending on the desired professional outcomes (and yes, the manager in question). However, one department where a manager may prove invaluable is sales. More than simply getting someone to purchase your product or service, sales has grown into a complex area of business. Building and maintaining relationships has always been a key element to a successful sales career and fostering those relationships is one area where a strong manager may shine.
Does this sound like something that would interest you? A sales career might begin with an entry-level position such as a sales associate or sales representative. This offers you the opportunity to become well-versed in your market while gaining valuable work experience, preparing you for a role in management.
A bachelor’s degree in management from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University can provide you with an additional advantage when seeking a sales management position, while aspiring to be an account or sales manager role requires a background in the basic skills necessary to be an effective manager and team leader.
“I love the people at W. P. Carey and the environment,” explained Gilberto Sosa, a student in the management program. “There’s a sense of openness and collaboration. Unlike a lot of places, where the culture is centered around competition, your peers at W. P. Carey are your colleagues — the people who can help you achieve your goals. It’s an amazing environment of learning and fellowship.”
A typical day in the life of an account manager
The customer is at the center of an account manager’s daily schedule, and in this role it would be your job to make sure all their needs are attended to. Effective communication is key, whether it is over the phone, via email or in person. Time can be divided between finalizing sales, finding new business opportunities and maintaining existing customer relationships.
To be a successful account manager, you must have a thorough knowledge of your company’s products or services and the ability to personalize service and sales pitches to best suit the client. It is imperative to stay up-to-date on not only your own company’s information, but also on trends in your field as a whole. Changes to the industry may affect how customers perceive your product or service, so being prepared before meeting with a customer is very important.
Often, account managers manage a team of sales personnel in addition to their own responsibilities. They can be called upon to train or even mentor new hires to the sales team. Regular travel and training are common in this position, so this may be an ideal position if you enjoy jet-setting across the country on a regular basis.
Developing the right skill set
Communication is critical for account managers, but there is also a variety of other skills needed to successfully navigate the position. While they primarily interact with customers, account managers also work closely with their sales team, so being good at dealing with people is instrumental. They also need to be proficient in time management and multitasking. Account managers should be skilled at:
- Project management
- Interpersonal relations
In addition to building upon these skills through work experience in sales, a college degree adds to your appeal when you interview for an account manager position. Earning a degree in management allows you to practice and develop the necessary skills before entering the workplace. The W. P. Carey online bachelor’s degree program in management encourages students to experience and test management and ethical leadership theories and concepts in skill-based exercises, case discussions and real-world team projects. This higher education experience provides a foundation for students to become successful managers during their careers.
A closer look at the professional landscape for account managers
The average salary for an account manager is around $51,000 according to Payscale. The potential for a higher base salary increases with work experience, and the position may receive sales commission and retention bonuses, in some cases.
An account manager role opens the door to a varied career path in sales or development based on where your interests lie. Some examples of management career paths include:
- Account Manager - Operations Manager - Director of Operations
- Account Manager - Senior Account Manager - National Sales Manager
- Account Manager - Business Development Manager - Vice President, Business Development
The job outlook for sales managers – a common step up from account manager – depends on the industry, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth at 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is about average.
If you’re about to scan job postings in this field, make a note that account manager roles are sometimes included with sales manager positions. A sales manager may manage account managers or a whole sales team and, on average, receives a higher base salary.
Regardless of the exact title, the most appealing factor about beginning a career in management through the sales department is that it allows you to get a firm grasp on what the business is all about. Being an expert on what your company sells as well as building strong customer relationships around those products or services can make you an effective account manager and help propel your career.
Learn more about your potential career as an account manager
Following the career path of an account manager can allow you to flex some serious management and leadership muscle as well as place you in a role that can be applied to a vast array of industries. Knowledge learned in a bachelor’s program often provides graduates with the skills needed to excel in the professional world. Request information today to learn more about how the W. P. Carey School of Business Bachelor of Science in Management online program can help.