How to Embrace the Opportunity of a New Account Manager

A new face shows up on your weekly Zoom call with your digital marketing agency. You ask yourself, “Am I in the wrong room?” You hesitate, then you recall mention of a new member joining on the agency side. 

Today, you’re meeting your new account manager.

This news likely comes as a bit of an annoyance: You’re comfortable with the working relationship you have with your main point of contact at the agency, and now you have to run through introductions again. You cross your fingers that you won’t need to offer a ‘fun fact’ about yourself when you really just want to look at how your business is growing.

So, why is this happening in the first place?

I’ll answer that, and some other key questions about account management, account managers, and exactly what they do (and don’t do) in this post.

First, Let Me Introduce Myself!

Hi! I’m Katie Morton. I’m a cat mom, true crime fan, avid traveler and amateur crochet junkie. 

  • My friends and I recently took a European tour and went to Madrid, London, and Paris for our 15-year friendcation trip. 
  • Some of my favorite true crime shows: Dirty John (podcast), Verity (book), YOU (show).
This is a lion I crocheted for my nephew, and my regal cat, Guinness.

When I’m at work, I’m the Executive Director for Health Tech here at Electric Kite, and I may be one of those faces crashing a virtual meeting near you. 

I started here at Electric Kite at the end of January 2023, and I’ve worked in and around all levels of account management—from a manager to an executive director, and even as a client myself, back in the day. 

Each account manager is different, but below is a look at what a new account manager (which I’ll use to mean all levels of the role) means for your organization, from my perspective.

What Is an Account Manager?

First, what is account management and why does a change in your account management carry such a weight? I’m so glad you asked.

Account management, client services, the ‘Success Team’—whatever moniker they go by—is the team that is the client advocate and voice to help translate a client’s desires into toolsets and positive outcomes. Account managers understand your business and help apply that lens to all the work coming from the agency to make sure things move in the right direction, and are done to the level of quality a client expects. 

Account managers often work in tandem with a project manager who runs the timeline and budget, while the account manager aligns the day-to-day work to the big picture and ties everything together.

It’s like building a relationship with your mechanic. If your car is making funny noises, you don’t need to know how to fix it yourself. When you have a trusted mechanic, you depend on them to fix things without necessarily understanding how they do what they do.

Similarly, you rely on a digital agency to do all the things you don’t have the time or the expertise to do with the members of your own team; you hire and work with them because they have experts dedicated to do the work you need them to do (even if you don’t know all the ins, outs, and how-tos of each process) to get the results you want. 

The account manager is the person who orchestrates that set of experts on your behalf.

Where Did the Old Account Manager Go? 

You might be surprised to see me. Your old account manager was great, so what happened to them? Well, changes in account management are typically due to one of the following:

  1. Fresh Perspectives: To stay on point, agencies must regularly bring in fresh ideas and the sharpest skills they have available to keep up with your marketing needs. Sometimes, it’s best to change up accounts to bring in well-informed, new perspectives to clients, allowing account managers—and agencies in general—to pitch innovative ideas and try things your competitors may not have thought of yet.
  2. Alignment with Skills: As your engagement evolves with an agency, your marketing needs may change, too. In order for agencies to continue to ensure you’re paired with the right person, they may partner you with a new account manager. An agency who has your back will nurture the transition by informing your team every step of the way, giving you answers to where your old account manager went and why this new account manager is the best fit. 
  3. Redistributing Workload: Sometimes agencies need to shuffle the deck to ensure all of their accounts have the right amount of coverage, and that all of their staff are adequately tasked (and not overworked). This is good for them, and it is good for you. This way, everyone grows.
  4. Career Changes: People moving on to other positions or coming in new to the company will create shifts. This is where the agency keeping you informed comes in, so that you know a change is not you, and that oftentimes, people are just getting promoted or changing career paths.

What Does This Change Mean for Me and My Team?

When all this work is done on the agency side and introductions have been made, there still may be growing pains, but the whole point is for your business to, in fact, grow.

That’s why I’m here: to help with that growth. But that’s much easier said than done, and means something different for each client. 

Here are some places I will look to excel development on your side during this transition and new work relationship:

  1. Set Fresh Expectations: If I become your new account manager, I’ll be more than a familiar face and a wave on a Zoom call (for us, it’s actually Google Meets). I’ll need to let you know what it is I can offer your account. Whether it’s coming to the table with an insight, or making some upward movement with your search rankings, there will always be something we can improve on. 

It’s like showing up to someone’s housewarming party without a gift; I know it’s not acceptable to show up empty-handed to a meeting, and I won’t. We’ll always leave calls with an action plan. 

  1. Ask Clarifying Questions: An engaged account manager will likely have plenty of questions, even if they’ve been working with you for a while. This is good. This means they’re engaged and always looking for ways to excel, and want to bring you along for the ride.

So much of what is truly valuable is deeply rooted in the intent and priority associated with it. A curiosity-driven nature provides some fresh perspectives and ideas. This is especially essential when things seem to operate in a steady routine, so modifications can be made for the better. 

So, get ready! I’ll always be asking questions so we can keep growing together.

  1. Personal Outreach: Personal conversations can be so important too. Don’t be caught off guard if I ask you to grab a virtual coffee to tell me more about your latest cocktail concoction or Netflix binge. It’s not unprofessional. It makes us better collaborators. 

Plus, if an account manager takes the time to just be a person with you, and isn’t always focused on an agenda, it makes them easier to communicate with overall. They want to know what drives you, how you want to mature, and how to infuse some delight into the engagement. And you’ll be better able to express what you really want for your business because of the rapport you’ve built.

  1. Update Materials: If you’re like me, you remember when it was back-to-school season and how excited you’d get about organizing your new school supplies and designating which folder/notebook set matched the aura for your classes, updating materials for clients can bring the same excitement. What can I say? I’ve always been intentional and thrive on structure. 

I carry this love to my account management style. You will notice modifications to your status documents, some GIFs in your emails, and new toolsets to utilize. All of these will serve a purpose specific to you to guide prioritization, discussion, and context that travels well. But we’ll make it fun and helpful, as well.

How Account Managers Improve Marketing Agencies

There is a lot that happens behind the scenes in any marketing agency, especially on the client services side.

Before introductions are made, we want to get to know you better. Here is what a new account manager typically has to dive into upon acquiring a new client or joining a new team:

  1. Understand the Accounts: There are always lots of documents to pour over and correspondence to review. Connecting with agency-side representatives to read between the lines by listening and probing to understand the pulse of the team and company are also part of the job. Here are some of the things account manager look for: 
  • What key needs does the client have (as an organization, and as a person thinking about their annual review and team)?
  • How are we supporting the work now—based on agreements?
  • How is success measured?
  • What wins have we delivered recently?
  • How is the client team feeling in our relationship (do they come to meetings? On time? Are they engaged? What does it feel like for them?)
  • How does their internal team feel? Do they have enough time to focus on their clients?
  • What opportunities do we see that we would love to explore?
  • What are the pain points, and what makes them so disruptive?

The best way to do this is by focusing on a single account at a time, contextualizing the existing engagements and recent deliverables by asking the questions of the team. Then, we can compile all these learnings into a client overview document of ‘evergreen’ and ‘recent’ contexts. 

  1. Portfolio Overview: Once an account manager sees the pieces, they’ll want to see how they work together. Understanding how the accounts connect to apply learnings from one to another. Where are there synergies in the larger industry to understand and capitalize on trends? 
  1. Setting the Focus: After getting a basic understanding, account managers then figure out what they can bring to the table for each client. For some, they may have enough account service already, so support and consultation at will is all that’s needed. However, some accounts will need more direct coverage. 

An account manager will then think about the role they’ll need to play: host, facilitator, strategist, based on the client’s voiced and understood initiatives and goals. Creating outlines for the opportunities an account manager sees is a great way to have a fresh strategy: 

  • Streamlining agendas to minimize overlap and drive collaboration
  • Structuring roadmaps featuring prioritization and accountability
  • Fleshing out briefs to align on context
  • Developing POVs and backlogs of opportunities

Let’s Go Do Awesome Things Together

Getting a new account manager is a big change, and a great opportunity. Give yourself time to pause and reflect on what you want out of the relationship you have with your agency and account manager. Are there any items on the backburner that you’ve been unable to get to? This is a good time to talk about them and to ask for accountability to make sure it happens. 

And here is another perk of having a new account manager: A new or existing account manager also widens your network, so ask about that. Who do they know or what do they know that can help? Make sure to connect on LinkedIn, and feel free to ask about their background, share yours, and make or ask for introductions to get into the weeds on topics, or widen your view. 

I hope that this gives you a worthwhile peek behind the curtain and some ideas to take your own experiences with account managers to the next level. 

I’m excited to potentially work with you, so get ready for me to drop some bad jokes and analogies during our time together at Electric Kite. Because it’s all about making the experience enjoyable, right?