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How to Hire A Great Account Manager
January 6, 2015 7:00:00 PM EST   By Shoa Appelman
Hire great account manager

How to Hire A Great Account Manager

Great account managers are a major key to business success. People in this position are often the face of an organization, so it is critical they make and maintain a positive impression on clients.

What to Look for When Hiring an Account Manager

An account manager must demonstrate an understanding of client concerns and be able to find solutions that help develop customer confidence and satisfaction with the organization. Account managers should be able to listen well, ask questions, and be able to learn new information quickly.

Whether it's through:
  • Face-to-face communication
  • Email messages
  • Web-based tools
  • Proposal submissions
  • Phone calls, or
  • Social media interactions
An account manager must effectively communicate with their team members and customers for success in the role.

Common Day-to-Day Tasks in a Account Manager Role

Transparency is important during the hiring process: your job candidates should know what the role they are applying for entails. So, be sure to create a job posting that includes day-to-day tasks. On a daily basis, an account manager may complete any of the following tasks. Use the list below as a starting point for your job description. Each company is different, so be sure to customize your posting to your role.

  • Confer with customers by telephone or in person to provide information about products or services, take or enter orders, cancel accounts, or obtain details of complaints.
  • Check to ensure that appropriate changes were made to resolve customers' problems.
  • Keep records of customer interactions or transactions, recording details of inquiries, complaints, or comments, as well as actions taken.
  • Solicit sales of new or additional services or products.
  • Resolve customers' service or billing complaints by performing activities such as exchanging merchandise, refunding money, or adjusting bills.
  • Complete contract forms, prepare change of address records, or issue service discontinuance orders, using computers.
  • Refer unresolved customer grievances to designated departments for further investigation.
  • Determine charges for services requested, collect deposits or payments, or arrange for billing.
  • Contact customers to respond to inquiries or to notify them of claim investigation results or any planned adjustments.
Source: O*Net:43-4051.00

How to Identify Top Candidates

Account Manager positions can be competitive. Here are some things to consider as you evaluate your candidates.

1. Does the candidate do some research?

Did you feel like the candidate looked up the company online before reaching out? Do they seem to understand key messages and your company culture? Did they take a look at some competitors in the space and understand how your organization differentiates itself? If so, that's a great sign. Past behavior is a the best predictor of future behavior, and those research skills will come in handy on the job as well.

2. Does the candidate pick up the phone?

As an account manager, the candidate will need to communicate with prospective customers. People today are more likely to be comfortable communicating via email, or text. However, phone conversations are still valuable ways to connect with clients, and your candidate should be able to pick up a phone and build rapport.

3. Does the candidate listen?

Account managers need to be able to listen to client concerns, remember that information, process it, and respond appropriately. If you find yourself repeating information to a job candidate, it's likely your clients will have to do the same. When you ask the candidate interview questions, are you hearing answers to your questions? 

4. Does the candidate apply for the position correctly?

If you requested a cover letter and resume, and the candidate only sent a cover letter, or only sent a resume, follow up with them. It could be a technical issue, and everyone makes mistakes. However, if you find several mistakes during the hiring process, consider some other candidates.

5. Does the candidate put their best foot forward?

Most candidates who want a job will try to present the finest version of themselves: clean, well-dressed, and polite. And account managers, the face of your company, should know how to present themselves well. You might be thinking, "Wait a minute, my company is proud of our casual attire and a focus on content rather than appearance." That is fine. Just make sure your candidate's decisions are conscientious, and that your candidate is presenting him or herself in a way that would be acceptable to your clients.

The Fastest Way to Identify Top Candidates

The five steps above are definitely good ways to identify a great account manager. Because at the end of the day, the aspiring account manager will treat you, the hiring manager, the same way - and perhaps better - than they might treat a client stakeholder. Observing how the candidate pursues the hiring process is a good way to evaluate their service orientation.

However, the steps above are also time consuming. A very quick way to determine whether someone can be a good account manager is to administer a job specific pre-employment test. There are several tests available on the market, some are general and some are job specific. A comprehensive test should measure a candidate's:

  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to process information
  • Writing ability
  • Personality
  • Customer service skills
  • Past work history

Several employment test vendors offer one or more of the above employment tests as individual modules you can pick and choose from to send to your candidate, including Wonderlic, HireSelect, and Caliper.

HR Avatar Employment Tests - full disclosure, this is an HR Avatar blog entry - measure all of these traits in one test, the Account Manager Pre-Employment Test.

To see a sample report from the test, click on the image below. (Click to view the full detailed sample report.)

Employment-test-report

Regardless of which employment test vendor you choose, remember that a helpful report should include scores on the candidate's competencies, an explanation of what those scores mean, a sample of the candidate's writing (if there is a writing portion of the assessment), and situation based interview questions that can help hiring managers focus on areas that might be problematic.

Try an Account Manager Test

Interested in learning more? Sign up for a Free Trial on HR Avatar and take a test! Try a test for yourself. See what you think of the test and the results. The simulation measures a candidate's cognitive ability by having the candidate complete tasks that simulate a real work environment. Test-takers have reported the test is "engaging" and "fun," which are not adjectives used to describe most assessments.

Or, Contact Us! We'll be happy to learn more about your needs and share what we know about quickly improving the hiring process. Good luck, and we hope your next Account Manager hiring decision is a great one.

Shoa Appelman

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