I was chatting to a client recently and they were telling me that they were off to a network to talk to their sales team. I was a little surprised, as I didn’t realise that they were looking for a new network. After asking, I found out that this wasn’t the case but they were talking to their second network’s sales team about growth opportunities.
This sounded strange to me, but the network had put someone in place to sell new opportunities to key clients. I wonder if this is something that will become more and more common as the industry continues to grow. I am sure I am not alone in wondering how this affects the account manager role at networks though.
Having worked ‘network-side’ myself, I tended to see my role fitting into certain key areas:
- Reporting – Weekly, quarterly and yearly
- Monitoring – Checking for fluctuations in performance, any suspect activity
- Consultation – Giving the client advice on areas that I think could improve or optimise the performance of the programme
- Growth – Making suggestions on new areas, approving new affiliates
- Relationships – Building relationships with affiliates on the programme which helps with consultation
A big part of any affiliate manager’s role is to grow the programme and build relationships with the key affiliates. I would also argue it is the most fun part. But has there become a need to have a sales team for new opportunities? Does the industry move so fast that we need people to champion and specialise in particular innovations to clients? Or are account mangers simply not motivated to grow programmes?
For me personally, I think this should always sit within the account manager remit. In theory they should know the account better, have a stronger relationship with the client and most importantly they will be the ones that will need to monitor, report and consult on the programme. Understanding the affiliates and the plans for the programme are therefore vital. But I would also say most people I know enjoy the strategy and planning part of a role. Taking this away leaves a lot of admin and not much time to be creative and make your mark.
However, working with the amount of account managers I do, you do wonder if some would benefit from having a more experienced member of staff helping them to sell in opportunities. But is this a reflection on their knowledge and experience rather than the need for the role?
What do people think? Do you consider growth and relationships to be key to the account manager’s role? Or can you see the benefit of having someone else focused on this?