The account manager's dilemma...
… or how to manage both client and team expectations.
As an account manager, you are at the center of all expectations, those of the client as much as those of the team. You always have to be more motivated than everyone else. When your team thinks “I” you must think “we”. When she thinks individual, you have to think team. You must make your team understand that any imponderable in a project is not the business of a single person, but concerns all the people involved in the project and that it is by acting as team and by taking responsibility as an individual that the problem will be solved in the best possible way.
In short, the project is not played alone but with others.
You must combine organization and insight, psychology and intuition, delegation and know-how. One of the elements that characterizes your position as an account manager is precisely being able to know that you are no less good than your team. The intelligence you know how to demonstrate on a daily basis is to have known how to surround yourself with the right people, those who complement you. You have to be humble enough to know that there are people who can be better than you. You can't be good at everything. And no…!
But on the other hand, you must be able to question your team's arguments and bring them further in their thinking.
You are a generalist, not a specialist. Your role is global, you are the guarantor of the success of the project and as such you must have an excellent view of it.
At the other end of the scale, there is the customer. You must be able to tell him the truth. You have to manage to make him understand that sometimes he can be wrong. Not agreeing with him and proving to him in a diplomatic, sensible and reasoned way is certainly not easy, but it is also your role. If despite all your arguments you find yourself facing a wall of incomprehension, it's probably time to move on. He trusts you; his refusal is not necessarily motivated by the quality of your recommendations. Internal policy, budget or simply will are all elements that can motivate its decision. Learn to accept that you are not necessarily right and know how to erase yourself at the right time.
Giving up on a fight you can't win is sometimes as satisfying and uplifting as being right; although at first it may seem frustrating. In addition, your customer will be even more grateful. He will notice that you are listening to him and that you know how to see the project as a whole and not just through the small end of the telescope, yours.
So there you have it, on one side your team of specialists, all as brilliant as each other. On the other hand, your client whom you would really like to apply your recommendations for his company to prosper. On the one hand, a team that does not understand that the customer does not listen to them, the specialists. On the other, a client who would sometimes like us to take his parameters more into consideration when these same specialists make recommendations. And you, the account manager, at the center, to spare each other. Everything is in the balance, between managing to balance your relations with your team and satisfying your client's needs as well as possible.
How to satisfy everyone? How do you manage to maintain a quality professional relationship with everyone?
You won't always succeed! Your team members will hate you, sometimes, and your client won't always find you as efficient or attentive as you imagine. Stay true to yourself and your beliefs. Keep in mind that you can't be perfect, do the best you can to meet the different requirements.
Easier said than done… 😉