How to Turn Clients’ Expectations into Tangible Products
Path to Becoming Account Manager
“I am always up for trying something new, even if I don't know what to expect.”
My educational background might not immediately suggest a career in sales and technology, but life has an interesting way of leading us down unexpected paths. My undergraduate degree in engineering management and my master's degree in sustainable environmental engineering might seem far removed from my current role as a key account manager in the e-commerce industry. However, the management skills I acquired during my studies have proven invaluable in navigating the dynamic world of sales and client relationships.
Initially, I didn't envision myself working in sales, but as I explored various career options, I discovered that the aspects of the job that often involve people – managing expectations, delivering results, and building relationships – were intriguing to me. The challenge of connecting with clients, understanding their needs, and ultimately providing solutions that met their expectations sparked my interest.
My first role in the sales world came as an assistant product manager for a well-known European automotive parts brand. During my three years with the company, I gained exposure to product management and client relationship building, laying the foundation for my transition into the e-commerce sector.
When e-commerce platforms like Lazada and Shopee began to dominate the Thai market, I recognized the opportunity to leverage my newfound expertise in a rapidly evolving industry. I embraced the chance to join an e-commerce enabler company as a key account manager, eager to immerse myself in the challenges and opportunities of this digital realm.
My journey from engineering management to key account manager in the e-commerce industry has been a testament to the adaptability and transferable skills that one can develop through education and experience. While my academic background might not have explicitly prepared me for the demands of my current role, the fundamentals of management, problem-solving, and communication have proven invaluable in navigating the complexities of sales and client relationships.
My story highlights the importance of embracing one's interests and exploring unexpected career paths. While traditional career trajectories might suggest a linear progression, the reality is that our skills and passions can lead us down diverse and fulfilling avenues. The key lies in recognizing opportunities, embracing challenges, and continuously learning along the way.
Challenge and Joy
“The role of an account manager (ACM) is to turn client expectations into reality, build trust, and make them want to continue working with us over the long term to increase the company's value.”
A major opportunity in my life was the chance to work as an ACM for Seven Peaks and Morphosis. In my role, I am responsible for farming, or trying to get our current clients to continue working with us.
I love that our company can help clients make their ideas or needs a reality. All they need to do is come to us with an idea. Our company offers a comprehensive range of services that support digital transformation, digital product development, UX/UI design, QA, UX research, digital marketing, data analytics, and more.
This means that all of our services can help clients grow rapidly and sustainably into the future. We also support our clients every step of the way, thinking and planning with them as if we were their best friends. We discuss what features they should have or what preparations they need to make to support the growth of their products in the future.
As an ACM, I must try to bring up marketing data and insights in my conversations with clients. For example, if I have a client who works on a smart lifestyle platform, I might tell them that IoT products and app connectivity are becoming increasingly important and creating new revenue streams in the market. This could help them reach new customers and make their products more appealing.
At the same time, an ACM improves the status quo in order to meet client expectations and build sustainable relationships based on trust, while also helping to increase the value of products or services.
This helps ACMs retain a base of clients who are willing to invest in high-value digital projects over the long term. This means that if we dedicate time and effort to understanding our clients' specific needs, they will always think of us when they need to do new projects in the future.
This is what makes me proud to be an ACM at Seven Peaks and Morphosis.
Learning from Your Peers, Improving from Experience
My journey into the world of e-commerce was shaped by an opportunity to work at a digital consulting firm, where I was entrusted with managing retail trade marketing clients. These clients, eager to expand their businesses onto e-commerce platforms, lacked the necessary understanding of online marketplaces.
As e-commerce platforms like Lazada and Shopee were still in their initial stages in the Thai market, there was a lack of insights into the behavior of Thai buyers and sellers. I took on the responsibility of familiarizing my clients with the intricacies of e-commerce, guiding them from onboarding to advanced strategies.
Throughout my tenure, my category manager emerged as a pillar of support. Her unwavering presence provided a safe space for me to seek guidance and navigate any challenges that arose. Similarly, the company's CEO, a remarkable woman exuding brilliance and energy, possessed an uncanny ability to transform complexities into overnight successes. Both these women, radiating with positive energy, fostered a supportive work environment that nurtured my professional growth. I felt truly fortunate to learn from their remarkable leadership.
In 2016, when resources for enhancing e-commerce or digital technology skills were scarce, I embraced the challenge of on-the-job learning. Through unwavering determination, I tackled obstacles head-on, devising solutions on my own. My clients, too, played a crucial role in my learning journey, serving as valuable teachers.
I actively sought counsel from my colleagues, manager, and clients, seeking collaborative approaches to refinement and problem-solving.
“My willingness to openly discuss challenges proved instrumental in overcoming every hurdle that came my way.”
Trouble is a Friend
When I first started, I was overwhelmed by the stack of problems I faced. It felt like there was always something new to deal with, and I was constantly stressed out. I would sit down at my desk and feel like I had just run a marathon.
Over time, I learned to deal with problems more effectively. I realized that it's important to focus on the solution, not the problem. If I can think of a way to solve the problem, then it's no longer a problem. I also learned to prioritize my tasks, so I could focus on the most important things first.
One of the most common problems I encounter is misunderstanding customer expectations. It's important to make sure that both the customer and I understand what we're trying to achieve. If we're on the same page, then we can work together to create a successful solution.
I believe that everyone can overcome challenges if they have the right attitude. It's important to stay positive and remain focused on the solution.
Every Project is a Proud One
Every project I've tackled as an account manager has been a source of pride, providing valuable learning experiences that have fostered my professional growth. However, one project stands out as a prime example of effective account management, embodying the principles that drive my approach to client relationships.
My tenure at Seven Peaks and Morphosis commenced with a project involving a digital consulting firm. The task revolved around providing extension services, essentially assigning our esteemed resources - developers, UX/UI designers, QA testers, or UX writers - to collaborate with the client's team.
Traditionally, these projects tend to be short-lived engagements. However, I was determined to cultivate a deeper connection with this client. To achieve this, I delved into understanding their specific needs and challenges, demonstrating our unwavering commitment to helping them overcome obstacles and refine their digital products.
As a result, the client placed their trust in our company, expanding the initial project into a series of four to five subsequent engagements. Their continued partnership reflects their unwavering confidence in our ability to deliver exceptional outcomes.
In addition to cultivating client relationships, my responsibilities extended to managing the resources embedded within the client's team. I prioritized establishing open and consistent communication channels with our experts, ensuring regular updates on project progress, and addressing any challenges they faced while working with the client. This proactive approach enabled me to provide timely assistance, ensuring our experts could operate effectively and efficiently, contributing to the client's satisfaction with their expertise.
I firmly believe that engagement and communication form the foundation of successful account management. By forging strong ties with both clients and our experts, we foster a collaborative environment that benefits all parties involved.
For the Aspiring Account Manager
At the heart of effective account management lies empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. By cultivating empathy, we become better equipped to navigate the complexities of client relationships which help us address their concerns and resolve their issues with greater insight and effectiveness.
“Beyond empathy, account managers must also possess a deep understanding of their clients' businesses, goals, and priorities.”
This understanding serves as a compass, guiding our interactions and ensuring that our efforts align with their objectives. By staying informed about their business operations, industry trends, and market challenges, we can provide valuable insights and strategic guidance, fostering trust and strengthening our partnerships.
To cultivate empathy and business excellence, account managers should engage in proactive learning and relationship-building. Actively listening to client feedback, engaging in open discussions, and conducting thorough research can provide valuable insights into their perspectives and business needs. Additionally, staying abreast of industry trends and developments through continuous learning empowers us to offer up-to-date advice and solutions that align with their business strategies.
In summary, empathy and business understanding are essential pillars of successful account management. By embracing these qualities, we can forge strong client relationships, deliver tailored solutions, and contribute to the growth and success of both our clients and our organizations.