Sales account manager

As an account manager, you'll assume responsibility for a number of advertising accounts, oversee the work of account executives and be a key person in charge of budgets and administration.

Quite how much responsibility you have will depend on whether you work under an account director, or are directly responsible to the managing director.


So, what will I actually be doing?

The work varies from agency to agency, but usually involves:

  • Managing a portfolio of accounts
  • Dealing with all aspects of a campaign
  • Using an existing network of industry contacts to generate new business
  • Leading and training other members of the account team
  • Managing the work of account executives
  • Leading project management activity
  • Ensuring necessary actions are undertaken by the account team
  • Building a 'territory'
  • Achieving sales targets
  • Delivering sales presentations to high-level executives
  • Attending client meetings
  • Maintaining and expanding relationships with existing clients
  • Completing administrative work, as required

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The finer details...

Your working day will typically include longer hours than the usual 9-5, although weekend working is rare. You will be office-based but will also travel to meet clients.

Sales jobs are advertised in the national and trade press, on the IPA website and by specialist recruitment agencies. However, not all jobs are advertised, so you could also find work by approaching agencies directly, and through making contacts in the industry.

You're likely to attain the position of account manager after a few years' experience in the role of account executive.

With experience, you could progress to become an account director and ultimately board director. Changing agencies is also a popular move, and today there are also many new media agencies opening, as well as conventional 'offline' advertising and direct marketing agencies.

You could also set up your own agency. However, self-employment is rare for account personnel, although not impossible.

Money, money, money

Figures are a guideline only.

Account manager salaries are typically between £30,000 and £45,000.

Top salaries for account directors and board directors can reach over £100,000 a year

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The good points...

Work your way up the career ladder and you’ll see a nice salary going into your bank account.

...and the bad

Advertising is a very popular career and competition for jobs is strong.

Plus the working day is usually at least nine hours and there is the expectation that people will stay on or start early for as long as it takes to meet deadlines.

Is there study involved?

You do not need any particular qualifications. However, advertising is a very competitive industry and many employers will expect you to be qualified to degree or at least BTEC HND level.

Any degree or HND subject is acceptable, but you may have an advantage with one of the following:

  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Statistics or operational research
  • Communication and media studies
  • Business or management
  • Psychology

You can use the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website to search for degree and HND courses. Check course entry requirements with colleges and universities.

You may be able to get into some smaller advertising agencies without a degree if you start in a more junior position such as administrator, and work your way up as your experience and knowledge of the industry develops.

As an account manager, you will already have a range of relevant skills. You may also be able to work towards further qualifications from the professional associations, such as:

  • IPA Excellence Diploma, for middle managers with at least three to five years' experience
  • Communication Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation (CAM) Diploma in Marketing Communications - for this you will need a degree or equivalent, or at least two years' relevant work experience.

You can also take short courses to help keep your knowledge and skills up to date throughout your career. See the IPA and the Account Planning Group websites for details.

OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?

To be a successful account manager you'll need:

  • Good spoken and written communication skills
  • Strong presentation and negotiation skills
  • Confidence, tact and a persuasive manner
  • Good organisational and time management skills
  • Good 'people skills', for working with a range of colleagues and clients
  • The ability to lead and motivate a team
  • A willingness to work long hours, often under pressure
  • A professional manner
  • Good business sense and the ability to work to budgets


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