Entrepreneurs Set an Example for Account Managers
by Rob Wolfe – Connected Places Global
Recently, I came across an AdvertisingAge article from Phil Johnson, “A Vision for the Future of Account Management: Account People Should Be More Like Entrepreneurs.” The article provides advice on qualities to look for when hiring account managers. Johnson, CEO of PJA Advertising & Marketing in Cambridge, MA, asserts that account managers “are the unsung heroes of the business…taking the best innovations and convincing clients that these are not only real, but useful.”
Following is an excerpt from the article, which builds upon my challenge to define approaches to aggressively differentiate yourself as an account manager by focusing on the client/customer relationship:
The model that best captures the qualities of a star account person is that of an entrepreneur. Successful entrepreneurs bet on an idea. They assemble a team that can bring the idea to fruition. They often help people see the value of a new product that has not yet been created. They raise funds, create the economic model, and establish partnerships. They shape a culture where innovation and collaboration thrive. I don’t know, but this sounds a whole lot like the qualities we want in an account person who performs at the highest level.
When you start to think of account people as entrepreneurs, it introduces a new level of potential into the role. They are no longer suits dutifully carrying the ideas to meetings. They become catalysts for new thinking and innovation. But in order for them to grow beyond functionaries managing a piece of business, and become business people who create markets for ideas, agencies need to redefine the qualities that they want in account people.
- I would put curiosity at the top of the list. That’s what entrepreneurs do so well. They see possibilities that most of us miss.
- Next, I’d look for someone who has the initiative to take calculated risks and who knows when to introduce bold new thinking to clients so that it will be recognized and valued. Introduce new ideas too early and they’re often dismissed. If you wait too late, you sacrifice the opportunity to take a leadership position.
- One underrated talent is an instinct for when to stay on the highway and when to cut across the field. Systems and process drive a lot of productive work, but at times they stifle creativity. It takes a finely tuned instinct to know when to get off the main road.
- A sense of diplomacy has saved many a great campaign and preserved relationships between agency and client. Selling ideas requires negotiation between multiple parties. Creative teams need to accommodate client demands. Clients may need to be pushed to take greater risks. The best account people have the tact to integrate different points of view while preserving the integrity of an idea.
- Don’t overlook pure drive and the insatiable desire to see an idea come to fruition in all its forms. The easiest way to kill a good idea is to just go though the motions. Passion, ambition, and hard work can produce miracles.