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Account Manager Vs. Account Director

Oct 01, 2019

Account managers and account directors lead teams, connect with customers, and sell their company's products and services. They share the goal of building relationships with clients, however, there are differences in their rank and responsibilities.

Comparing Account Managers to Account Directors

Account managers and account directors generally work for the sales branch of a corporation or for public relations firms. While these positions share many commonalities, an account director tends to have more experience, run a larger team, and make a larger paycheck.

Job Title Education Requirements Average Salary (2019)
Account Manager Bachelor's degree $53,478
Account Director Bachelor's degree $96,677

Source: PayScale.com

Responsibilities of Account Managers vs. Account Directors

Account managers and account directors work directly with clients, connecting them to the appropriate products and services and ensuring full customer satisfaction. In both positions the primary goal is to build long-lasting relationships with clients to increase sales. Whereas an account manager might oversee one or two accounts, an account director oversees groups of account managers. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of consistency in the way that different companies and industries distribute titles, so one company may use the title account manager for an identical position that another company calls account director. Particularly in smaller companies, it is even possible that one person may hold both roles.

Account Manager

An account manager is the link between a client and the team working on a client's account. Their primary responsibilities are to report to clients about the progress of their accounts, ensure customer satisfaction and encourage further business. As a manager, they may oversee multiple accounts. Most account managers work regular 8-5 hours in an office setting. However, they must maintain regular contact with their clients and thus may travel outside of the office. Successful account managers can move up the ranks of their company to become account directors (oversee teams of managers) or become a key account manager (work with the most profitable accounts in their company).

Job responsibilities of an account manager include:

  • Managing the communication between an account team and their client
  • Keeping track of an account team's progress and report to their client
  • Building rapport with their clients and ensure customer satisfaction
  • Promoting the company's products to encourage further business with existing clients
  • Writing and negotiating contracts
  • Reporting to account directors and management

Account Director

While not all companies use these titles in the same way, an account director is generally a step above an account manager. In a large company, an account director may manage groups of account managers. They ensure that existing clients are happy with their services, aware of further services the company can provide them, and up-to-date with their payments. Account directors often have years of experience as account managers. Account directors can advance to upper-level management positions like national account director or chief marketing officer.

Job responsibilities of an account director include:

  • Assigning account managers to their clients
  • Analyzing productivity reports from their office and brainstorming ways to increase profits
  • Reporting their team's successes and challenges to management
  • Keeping track of the finances for their team's accounts, manage their office's budget, and send out bills
  • Establishing expectations, policies, and goals for their team
  • Meeting new clients through marketing initiatives and networking events

Related Careers

If you are interested in account management, you may also want to consider a job as a national account coordinator, since both roles toe the line between management and customer service. If you are more interested in becoming an account director, consider a career as a regional sales manager, because both jobs require excellent leadership and communication skills.

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