Strategic Account Management Vs New Business

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Joseph Veal Account Manager | Client Services

We hear from Joseph Veal, one of our account managers at Rawnet, on the topic of understanding Account Management Vs New Business. At Rawnet we have separate teams for these areas but they both have the same interest: to build a relationship and add value to a clients' business. Joseph explains why and how this is important to Rawnet’s success and the success of our clients.

The Crossover And The Differences

I can appreciate from the outside on occasion that Account Management and New Business have a similar set of goals, we are both attempting to build strong relationships with clients and increase revenue for the company. Despite being in Account Management for seven years, my wife still believes that my primary role is a salesperson. It wasn’t until the pandemic began and we started working from home that she understood how my role differs.

It is undeniable that both roles are important for ongoing client success, but from my experience, they need two slightly different skill sets to really deliver for the team.

Most of us know what the role of a salesperson/new business includes and we have a picture in our mind. With that, a salesperson is usually responsible for prospecting to find new clients/companies to work with and meet their quotas by converting prospects into customers, before smoothly onboarding them to the delivery and client services teams. However, our new business team at Rawnet, straddles the line of AMs by delving into what the customer is trying to achieve and remaining a strong point of contact until the initial project is complete. This invariably provides a great transition between the teams to allow the customers to feel that they are in safe hands for the long term. 

On the other hand, Account management (depending on the level) is a client-facing, post-sale, nurturing role. When we partner with a new client, the Account Manager is introduced and it becomes their job to continue to build a strategic and long-lasting relationship. We accomplish this by learning what the clients’ goals are and helping the clients achieve them. Because of this, Account Managers are constantly trying to ensure we're achieving the highest possible level of satisfaction, helping to advise, consult and support long-term growth strategies to help clients achieve their respective business goals/objectives. We ask all our clients to provide us with feedback on a quarterly basis via a Rawnet Client Satisfaction Survey (CSS). The survey is more than a score, it’s a set of qualitative and quantitative data that enables us to continually optimise our client’s experience. 

I’ve always said and believed that ‘Account Managers are the client’s voice internally’, keeping customer service and success front of mind. I am a strong believer that Account Managers don't become AMs to be salespeople. The common trait in all good AMs is that they thrive on a strong client relationship. Building a solid foundation of trust and mutual understanding between both parties enables me to truly know my client. This rapport leads to better conversations and an in-depth of knowledge of both them and their business which inevitably leads to greater success for both parties. Account Managers typically focus on business development and help to grow accounts through finding opportunities to further add value, they’re also seen as an extension to the customer's internal teams to help drive success. This can come in different forms such as; proactive suggestions that benefit the client long term and create valuable partnerships; to evaluate the idea/proposal with the customer to ensure we are getting the best solution for their business. It is one of our brand values to ‘create long-term, positive impact’ which is weaved into the Account Managers role. I personally work with my clients to help foster this type of relationship, so that when I present new ideas to the customer, they know my main objective is to help them succeed. 

Are the Two Roles Ever Combined?

Yes, more often than you think, I’ve personally worked in agencies where I have worked both these roles due to size and/or structure from a 5/10 person team to 30 strong. Because both New Business and Account Management are critical roles for any agency and do possess similar skills, when starting out not every agency will have a dedicated team of Account Managers, which means that the two roles become one until dedicated teams can be created and the unique roles are required. With the roles combined, it’s important to understand the different skills required so that both roles can be executed successfully. At Rawnet, New Business and Account Management are very closely linked. Very often at Rawnet Account Managers are present at the sales pitch. Putting myself in the client's shoes, knowing who the people are that I'll work with for the coming few years is as important in the decision making process when choosing an agency as the answer to my brief.

Typically New Business and Account Managers have separate specific skills they need to succeed. With each agency, there will be some variation to what a sales job or role requires because every company’s culture and goals are unique.

Salespersons are usual the initial touchpoint for clients and need to following skills to succeed:

Prospecting: They’re great at self-managing and finding clients that will benefit from the agency’s expertise

Developing rapport: They are able to read people and are able to identify a business style and are able to tailor their communication to match

Questioning: they are constantly asking open-ended questions to uncover a prospect’s wants/needs and listening to understand and digest

Knowledge/Expertise: They must have strong product/service knowledge and confidently demonstrate how the benefits align with the buyer’s wants and needs

Onboarding: They must be confident as they are asking for confirmation to proceed

Account managers are focusing on nurturing the relationship and helping it grow to its full potential. Therefore, building upon the above skills, successful Account Managers will also have:

Relationship building: Account Managers are strong communicators, providing communications effectively and consistently taking a consultative, buyer-focused approach with all interactions

Prioritisation: Always happy to help clients in order to maximise potential and timelines

Long-term thinking: Unlike most sales representatives who tend to focus on the customers immediate needs, Account Managers are long term thinkers looking to build strategic and long-term relationships.

Overall, at Rawnet our New Business and Account Management roles overlap by really delving into how we can add value and benefit our clients. From the very start of our relationship, all the way through to completion of the project and ongoing strategy/support New Business and Account Management are actively involved. Rather than the more traditional skills expected of New Business and Account Management, both teams embody inquisitive natures to find areas to challenge and improve briefs to make sure clients are on the right track to gain the highest success. We are all passionate about the digital sector and always put the clients needs first by being transparent. We all aim to achieve long-term positive impacts to ultimately increase clients businesses value. 

Conclusion

Having worked in both New Business and Account Management teams, there are lots of traits that are shared, as in my experience at Rawnet both are deeply invested in making sure our customers see the success that they want. Both of our teams have the end goal of increasing revenue, but the paths they use to get there can be different. This is an understanding that occasionally gets lost even when discussing the roles internally. 

Throughout writing this article, I have continued to find more traits that show our New Business and Account Management representatives are much more similar than it first seemed. This in my opinion is a testament to the way the team has been built to make sure the focus is to always provide client satisfaction at every stage of the process.