Key Account Manager Vs. Account Manager

Oct 01, 2019

Account managers and key account managers hold important roles in sales, advertising and public relations firms. They manage the relationship between clients and their company's project teams.

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Comparing Account Managers to Key Account Managers

Account managers and key account managers connect a company's project teams to the clients they work for. They insure that customers are satisfied and set to use a company's services again. While an account manager generally oversees multiple accounts, a key account manager focuses on one very important account.

Job Title Education Requirements Average Salary (2019)
Account Manager Bachelor's degree or relevant work experience $53,478
Key Account Manager Bachelor's degree (sales or marketing) $72,253

Source: PayScale.com

Responsibilities of Account Managers vs. Key Account Managers

Account managers and key account managers both spend the majority of their time communicating directly with clients. They must insure that their clients are satisfied with the services and products they receive. In both positions the primary responsibility is to build long-lasting relationships with clients and increase sales. The main distinction is that a key account manager works with the company's most important clients. A key account manager typically starts out as an account manager and receives a promotion after garnering experience and demonstrating success with clients.

Account Manager

Account managers oversee the relationship between multiple account teams and their clients. An account manager must have excellent conflict transformation and communication skills to transform a client's frustration into brand loyalty. They must communicate with clients regularly and develop a good understanding of their client's needs. Typically an account manager works regular hours in an office, but they may have the opportunity to travel to meet new clients. Account managers can go on to become key account managers (focus on the relationship with one important client) or account directors (oversee groups of account managers).

Job responsibilities of an account manager include:

  • Understanding their client's needs and proposing relevant solutions
  • Managing the communication between a client and the internal project team
  • Negotiating with frustrated clients, reestablishing trust and avoiding losing business in the midst of problems
  • Keeping project teams accountable to deliver services on-time
  • Reporting to account directors and management

Key Account Manager

Key account managers often work with a company's most important clients. Some companies have one or two clients that generate a large percentage of their profits, so they might hire key account managers to focus on those specific accounts. Because their work with clients is essential to the entire company's profits, a key account manager may report directly to senior-level management. They work regular office hours, but may travel depending on the location of their key client. Key account management is a great stepping stone to senior-level management positions in sales and marketing.

Job responsibilities of a key account manager include:

  • Developing rapport with clients to encourage clients to stay with their company for future work
  • Expanding contracts with existing clients by understanding a company's needs and proposing solutions
  • Insuring that their client receives high-quality services
  • Controlling the flow of information between an account team and their client
  • Resolving conflicts that occur between clients and their company while maintaining trust
  • Reporting progress, sales data, and forecasts to management

Related Careers

Both account managers and key account managers are experts at developing relationships with clients and generating sales. Here are a few other careers that involve a similar set of responsibilities:

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