You can find lists of competencies for account managers, for example from the Strategic Account Management Association (SAMA). Many of these list the technical knowledge needed. However the most critical skill an account manager needs is persistence.
In the account’s organisation and in their organisation, account managers need to work across departments. This is never easy because usually departments only focus on their own KPIs. So, account managers need to persist and coordinate to get the best outcomes.
Account managers often work on complex problems and complex opportunities. These are difficult to shepherd through their organisation and their accounts organisation. So, account managers need high persistence to see these initiatives through.
Another reason account managers need to be persistent is they need to regularly challenge their organisation. They can never be satisfied with the way things are. They must continuously search for ways to create value for their account and organisation. They must continuously ask: Where is the next problem I can help solve? Where is the next opportunity I can pursue?
As part of challenging their organisation, they must regularly ask: What is our value proposition and how does it need to be reshaped for change with the account and the account’s marketplace?
What if your account managers don’t have persistence? Is it possible to improve persistence or mental toughness? Yes.
Martin Seligman who has been studying mental toughness for 50 years has developed a tool: Seligman Attributional Style Questionnaire (SASQ). This tool provides a measure of optimism and can be used as a predictor or performance, mood and motivation. If you want to improve mental toughness then Peter Sullivan from Australian Business Training uses this questionnaire and has developed practical tools and workshops to help organisations build mental toughness for over 20 years.
Do you know how resilient and persistent your account managers are?