High Performance: The ULTIMATE account manager

March 24, 2015 -  By

HarwoodSarah was one of the best account managers I ever worked with. She kept in touch with me throughout the year, making sure my needs were met by asking intelligent questions about my business, listening to me, recommending solutions that fit my budget and helping my company achieve its goals. Over time, she became a valued partner. In addition, we formed a personal friendship which remains to this day, even though she is no longer in charge of my account. She was an ULTIMATE account manager.

Throughout the years, I’ve had many other account managers for a variety of services. However, I don’t recall their names. I can’t picture their faces. They left no impression on me. These were the poor or average account managers. They failed to connect with me in any meaningful way, so no relationship was formed. In the absence of a personal relationship, a transactional business relationship driven by price is all that exists. Account management is critical.

The ULTIMATE account manager is not a superhero. Rather, he or she is simply the right person doing the right things in the account manager role. Determining whether or not a person is the right person involves assessment in the following areas:

  • core values;
  • experience;
  • education;
  • credentials;
  • skills; and
  • attributes.

We have developed an attributes scoring matrix for the ULTIMATE account manager. (A complimentary copy of this helpful tool is available upon request to

What about the right things? The ULTIMATE account manager understands that there are five roles involved in their success:

  1. customer advocate;
  2. quality assurance;
  3. contract manager;
  4. enhancement sales; and
  5. new sales.

The first role, customer advocate, is the primary role but the remaining four also are important. Account managers wear multiple hats but have the singular goal of customer satisfaction, which results in customer retention, increased wallet share and increased profitability.

Are you an ULTIMATE account manager? What about your people? Your customers will appreciate the attention you place on this critical area. They may even remember your name for years to come.

Now go forth.


Phil Harwood headshot

About the Author:

Harwood is a Managing Partner with GrowTheBench and Pro-Motion Consulting. Reach him at He is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager, NALP Trailblazer, NALP Consultant, and Certified Snow Professional. Harwood holds a BA in Marketing and Executive MBA with Honors from Michigan State University.

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