What’s it all about then?
As a dedicated account manager working in food manufacturing, you’ll often be the face of your company with a particular customer or principal contact for a specific product line.
Your customers may include buyers from major supermarket groups, foodservice organisations or restaurant groups.
You’ll be responsible for the management of sales and relationships with your customers and you’ll develop a long-term relationship with your customers and fully understand their business needs and challenges in order to grow business on a profitable basis.
You’ll also be responsible for the liaison between your company sales and customer service departments.
If you have a product portfolio, then part of the job will involve the search for new business clients for these products.
What might I be doing?
Your responsibilities will include protecting and generating increased sales among your customers, identifying new sales opportunities with these customers, resolving any issues that arise and co-ordinating all relationships your particular clients.
In larger companies, you might find yourself working alongside the category manager to implement various initiatives aimed at improving sales volumes.
You will be expected to monitor sales volumes and forecast future demand accurately for your company - you will also have to make sure that planned profitability is achieved for each customer or product range which you are managing.
What will be expected of me?
The purpose of being assigned particular clients is to create long-term relationships with a portfolio of assigned clients.
The account manager must understand and anticipate customer demands and plan how to meet them – generating additional sales for the company wherever possible as a result.
You’ll will need to be an outgoing and confident person with excellent influencing and listening skills and be capable of planning and managing your own workload and coping with pressure. You’ll be able to resolve any customer issues in a prompt and satisfactory manner in order to maintain your relationships while protecting the long-term interests of your company and brands.
What can I expect?
You’ll be working with loads of different customers and building a long-term network of contacts and relationships will be great for your career.
Your role is critical in delivering business growth for your company and as difficult issues often crop up from time to time, you should have the self-confidence and capability to cope with stress and enjoy problem solving - you will be the first port of call and your company will be counting on you.
You can expect a lot of travel and out of hours working in what is usually a highly rewarding job both personally and financially.
What about the pay?
Account managers earn anything from £18,000 to £70,000 depending on their experience and the size and nature of the company but typically their salary will fall within the £24,000 - £34,000 bracket.
As sales are a key dimension of the role, account managers usually also earn commission or bonuses if they hit agreed sales targets.
What qualifications do I need to get in?
An account manager should expect to have a good business, marketing or food related degree as a point of entry although someone with a good academic track record and previous experience in sales would also be considered.
Foreign language skills can be useful to have depending on the markets in which your employer is operating.
What about further training?
You could look at postgraduate courses in marketing and communications, all of which are available locally and will drive your career forward.
The key skills you’ll need are knowledge (of your products and company), communication and organisation.
Anything else I might need to know?
With enough relevant experience, there is always the opportunity for career progression as an account manager. With suitable experience, account managers could progress to the role of account director, marketing manager or brand director - all of which involve making decisions about sales and marketing strategies, supervising staff and delegating tasks to other members of the team.
The skills required of an account manager are extremely transferable and allow employees to move on to many different senior jobs not directly associated with account management.