The Corona pandemic caused quite a stir in the labour market. Sales figures tumbled in some sectors and investments and new recruitments were temporarily put on hold. But things are moving in the right direction, as organisations are putting everything in place to make up for the losses of the past year.
Learn more about the important role these sales experts play in an organisation's success.
What exactly does an Account Manager do?
An Account Manager is very active in prospecting, following up business leads and visiting clients in order to promote his or her organisation’s products or services. Once the sale is closed and the new client is part of the organisation's client portfolio, his work is largely done.
The role of a Key Account Manager may overlap to some extent with the job content of an Account Manager, which we call the 'hunter' part. But a Key Account Manager is primarily a farmer. He or she is responsible for following up the existing client portfolio within the organisation, whether or not for a particular region, specific service or product line. And that is very broad: together with the client, the Key Account Manager regularly looks at the overall picture, the budget and where amends need to be made. In some cases, however, the job content of an Account Manager is a mix of both hunting and farming activities.
What makes someone a successful Account Manager?
The type of diploma is not that important. What is essential is good language skills and strong communication skills. Sometimes, an Account Manager is responsible for a specific region and then being trilingual is less important, but as a National Account Manager and certainly as a Key Account Manager, a good knowledge of both Dutch and French is indispensable. When the client is active on an international level, a good knowledge of English is of course also a must.
But how successful an Account Manager really is, depends mainly on his personality. The focus is on selling, so a commercial attitude and great perseverance are most important. In addition, an Account Manager must of course be 100% behind his product or service and come across as enthusiastic and dynamic. Someone who knows what he’s talking about, and does so with the necessary passion, who thinks along with the client towards as solution or product that satisfies the client, will find it easier to close a deal of course.
As a (Key) Account Manager, you will also have to deal with figures, so strong analytical skills are also a must. Account Managers are asked to calculate their forecasts, for example, while Key Account Managers supervise the budget and regularly dig into the sales numbers to see where changes or improvements need to be made to guarantee their forecast.
Is there a high demand for Account Managers on the Belgian labour market?
Yes, there is. At the beginning of each year we notice a significant peak in the demand for Account Managers. Organisations have just defined their recruitment needs and budgets and are actively looking for new employees to achieve their objectives. The same exercise is carried out around the period September-October: what is the remaining budget and where do we need extra help in order to achieve this year's objectives? During this period as well, we see a substantial increase in the demand for (Key) Account Managers.
Has the Corona pandemic affected the demand for Account Managers or their way of working?
Some sectors have indeed felt the effects of the Corona pandemic more intense than others, especially when shops were closed during the lockdown last year. Suddenly, sales activities stopped and some employees were put on temporary unemployment. But things are moving in the right direction again: organisations that did not make the hoped-for profits last year are now doing everything in their power to make the sales figures rise again. Of course, they need the right sales experts to do this. And we clearly notice here that organisations mainly opt for Account Managers with a number of years of (sector) experience, in order to achieve results quickly. And when sales is at full speed, this also has a positive effect on the supporting services such as administration.
There has also been a major shift in the way we work in recent months, especially for the Account Manager. Due to the restrictions imposed by the government, face-to-face conversations have been replaced by either telephone appointments or video appointments via Teams or Zoom.
How much does an Account Manager earn on average?
An Account Manager with less than 3 years of experience can expect a gross monthly salary of 2300-2800 EUR. Professionals with 3-6 years of experience earn on average 2800 to 3500 EUR gross per month. More senior Account Managers can expect to earn up to 5000 EUR gross per month, according to Walters People's annual Salary Survey. But of course this also depends on the sector. It is a commercial function, so this gross monthly salary is supplemented with extra-legal benefits such as a company car and fuel card, commission or bonus, an insurance package, a net allowance, meal vouchers and eco cheques, a mobile phone with subscription and a laptop. In some organisations, there is also a discount on company products or the employer pays for an internet connection at home for example.
Salary increases are not really in the cards this year, but we notice that organisations are increasingly offering their employees other benefits. For example flexible working hours, contribution in the costs of childcare, more training opportunities, a better office chair or larger screen to make working at home as pleasant as possible, etc. And organisations also invest considerably more in the well-being of their employees, which is a not unimportant advantage in these times.