I got a job! Help me be great at it!
December 19, 2012 2:08 PM   Subscribe

After posting here several times about my job search and post-MBA malaise, I have been offered an Account Manager position. This wasn't what I wanted to do entirely, but I want to be great at it, so I can move into a position I would want in a year or so. How do I be awesome at my job?

I talked about my career conundrums here, here, and here.

After a few interviews for the jobs I wanted that didn't go very far, I took some advice and am about to accept an offer as an Account Manager for a software company. The company is small, and at the moment I'll be reporting up to the COO, and he has indicated that as long as I'm good at my job, and can demonstrate aptitude the career paths can be non-traditional; in other words, I can write my own ticket and move into a position I'd want. So, I want to be awesome at the job so I can move into an operations role in a year or so.

My questions are thus:

-- How do I readjust to the working world? I've been in school for two years and unemployed for 7 months, and I'm not used to having to be up on schedule and my time management has suffered. (I have ADHD, and have been very successful at work and school, but causing much stress to myself and my marriage).

-- How do I make a good first impression? It has been 7 years since I started a new job, and I didn't do the best job of making friends. I've been told it is a social office and I'm new in town and don't have friends besides my husband (which has strained our marriage), so I want to fit in, without doing anything that would make me seem unprofessional or lazy.

-- How do I be an awesome account manager? I did well in my last CAM position, but I'm rusty, and I'm not sure what I did to be so successful. Are there any books or websites that I can look at to develop skills in the next few weeks before I start? When interviewing, it was stated that the team as it stands was not as proactive and strong as they would like, and they wanted the new person to lead by example. What behaviors will help me do this?

This probably could have been 3 different questions, so I appreciate any help to make it easier for me to succeed.

Thanks in advance!
posted by hrj to Work & Money (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If your company is worth anything, you'll go to school.

1. To learn the product

2. To learn the sales methods they like to use.

Pay attention!

Personally, I've always seen myself as the Ambassador to the company. I talk to my customers like they're my friends, I really get to know them as people, and I don't ever, ever, ever bullshit anyone.

I still have people calling my phone 4 years later, and being sad that I don't work there any more.

Go in a bit early, stay a bit late, study a bit more and be friendly and nice to everyone.

Wear nice outfits.

Oh and the MBA. Nearly useless. Don't bring it up in conversation. Don't sign your emails:

hrj, MBA-Wharton Business School

Don't bring the diploma to hang at your cube!

Just use the knowledge.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:12 PM on December 19, 2012

I should add -- this is a small company without a formal training (they are going to send me to another location to learn product from the product team). It is all inside -- no face to face with customers.
posted by hrj at 2:18 PM on December 19, 2012

You'll still interact with them on the phone. Be super-friendly and helpful, especialyl in an Account Management position.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:19 PM on December 19, 2012

One great way to make a good impression is to remember (and use!) names. Both in your office and on your accounts. If you largely talk to clients over the phone, take notes to remind yourself of important names and relationships as well as the important work stuff. It makes a big impression on people when you remember their name properly - it makes them feel like you've been paying attention to them.

Generally, watch for successful, well-liked people, and figure out how you can be more like them.
posted by ldthomps at 2:36 PM on December 19, 2012

How to be an awesome account manager? Be responsive. Respond to emails and phone calls immediately (within 4-5 minutes, for reals), either with the answer or a promise to find the answer asap (and then find the answer within the promised time, with frequent updates). It's the key to making each client feel like they are your most important client and that you think their work is every bit as important as they think it is. That said, always respond to your boss (or any decision-maker who can help get you where you need to be) first. Not to kiss up -- just to say you're on it.

I was an account manager for five years in a busy team with a ton of moving, fragile pieces (I got some 400 emails a day, on average) and I made responsiveness into a private game. If I handled something without anyone asking for an update, I scored a point. If anyone asked me for an update, I lost a point. If I gained 50 points, I got a bottle of whiskey. If I lost 50 points, I got TWO bottles of whiskey. (Kidding.) (Mostly.)

Industry experience and technical knowledge come in time, but if you can demonstrate you're on your toes and responsive, that goes a long way and people really appreciate it. I've changed roles and industries and moved 2000 miles and two time zones away since then, but the responsiveness thing works like magic in my new job.

And yep, two years later, I still get phone calls from former clients.
posted by mochapickle at 7:12 PM on December 19, 2012 [5 favorites]

And another thing: Be candid and human with clients and team members. At my job, built custom software based on an enormous database and there were a million things that could go wrong, so I worked really closely with the support/qa folks and tried to give them room and respect. Customers mostly wanted to know what happened and get some sort assurance of the steps we would take to avoid it happening again. I never made up excuses, never fibbed about causes or solutions, simply because I never wanted to break the trust of my clients. They were smart. They would know. So I was honest. And it worked -- what I gave them in candor I got back in loyalty. I had a lower churn rate than any other AM on the team.
posted by mochapickle at 7:28 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Focus on the job you are in, not the job you are angling for. I've seen lots of people who consider themselves - and may technically be! - overqualified, and they fail when they overlook the business needs for their position. Knock your current responsibilities out of the park before you push for advancement.
posted by mozhet at 7:49 PM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Any specific advice on how to sell? Or references to read?
posted by hrj at 5:41 AM on December 20, 2012

Remind yourself constantly of these 2 messages: "WIIFM" and "TIM"
"WIIFM" = what's in it for me. Determine how this software package adds value to your customers. Explicitly reiterate how your company's product makes their life better. This is known as the Benefit Statement. Take ownership-- "I'm going to fix this for you." it's never about you; its always about the customer.

"TIM" = time, image, money. These are the 3 things that matter at work. Always circle back to these -- "you are going to look good to your boss.". "you aren't going to be running those reports every Monday." "once we capture the delays in production, you'll free up your cash flow."

Plus the time management tips upstream.
posted by ohshenandoah at 10:26 AM on December 20, 2012

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