When you work in a client-facing industry, having trusted and reliable account specialists is paramount in creating a fruitful relationship. Account specialists help provide daily support to new and existing customers to ensure their questions are answered, they have any resources they need, and issues can be mitigated quickly.
So, how can hiring managers ensure the best candidate fills this critical client-facing role? Let’s look at how to build a compelling account specialist job description and other necessary hiring information.
How Do Account Specialists Improve Your Team?
Account specialists are client-facing sales professionals who help nurture and maintain strong relationships with existing or prospective customers. They are crucial team members who need to be sourced carefully since they will have to possess a combination of relationship-building skills as well as market/product knowledge.
Successful account specialists will help customers navigate the buyer’s journey and identify opportunities to grow sales or extend the customer relationship. When the right account specialist is in place, they can establish long-standing relationships with customers that build trust and credibility for your business. Without a dedicated and qualified people in this role, businesses run the risk of letting customer relationships sour.
The Top Skills to Look for in an Account Specialist
The role of an account specialist is ever-changing in our technology-driven world. Their daily tasks will also be largely determined by industry, business size, and client size. However, there are some overarching skills to look for in right-fit candidates, namely:
- Strong interpersonal skills to establish and maintain trusted relationships with client accounts
- Familiarity with B2B/B2C sales funnels and sales tracking software to understand where a customer is in their buyer’s journey
- Clear communication skills to share product knowledge, teach best practices, and communicate updates
- Analytical problem-solving skills to identify ways of addressing customer issues
- Attention to detail and quality assurance to ensure that customers are handled with care
- Reliability and dependability so customers trust the account specialist
- Presentation and reporting skills
- Compassion and patience to deal with daily customer questions or to field angry customer complaints
Qualifications To Look For
There are no formal requirements to become an account specialist. However, given their client-facing nature, many hiring managers look for candidates with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in business administration, sales, or a related field.
Additionally, many organizations will look for candidates who have familiarity with using sales tracking software and presentation software. For larger organizations or businesses with high-profile accounts, they may seek out individuals with previous sales or customer-facing experience.
What to Include in Their Job Description
The role of an account specialist varies across companies, so it’s important to be detailed in your job description:
- What types of accounts will the account specialist be managing (commercial vs. enterprise)?
- Will the individual need to have previous knowledge of an industry or market?
- How many accounts will the role be responsible for managing at a given time?
- Be sure to include the daily tasks and responsibilities the individual is expected to perform, such as scheduling check-ins, resolving customer complaints, auditing customer files, and preparing reports.
- Will the candidate be expected to use specific tracking or communication software to interact with customers? Be sure to list any technical requirements.
- What metrics or performance indicators are used to track the account specialist’s success?
All of this will help offer the candidate clarity for the upcoming role. It’s best to set expectations up front—even before the interview process—to help reduce attrition down the road.
Pay and Job Outlook for an Account Specialist
According to data from Glassdoor, the average customer account specialist earns around $65,000 per year in the United States.
Given the unique customer-facing nature of an account specialist role, many organizations choose to structure their compensation with bonus structures similar to sales teams.
Interview Questions for an Account Specialist
It’s important to structure your account specialist interview questions around the daily responsibilities and performance metrics of the role.
In addition to asking baseline questions that highlight a candidate’s strengths and proficiencies, be sure to ask targeted interview questions such as:
- Have you previously worked with a challenging customer? What steps did you take to get on the same page or to manage the relationship successfully?
- Walk me through how you handle a situation where you don’t know the solution to a customer’s problem.
- What steps do you take to establish rapport with a new customer account?
- What communication and sales tracking tools do you have prior experience with?
- How do you stay up-to-date on market trends, the competition, and emerging technologies in our industry?
- How do you deliver bad or difficult news to a customer?
- Share how you collaborate with sales and product teams to address customer needs.
- How would you explain our product/service to your grandparents?
- How do you demonstrate value to accounts in the first email or first phone call?
- What would you change or improve about our product/service?
- What steps do you take to minimize account churn (turnover)?
In later interviews, you can put the candidates through mock sales pitches as a form of pre-employment test.
Take the First Steps Toward Hiring Your Next Account Specialist
Account specialists play crucial roles within organizations. The best account specialist candidates will be customer-centric by nature, empathetic, and strategic problem solvers—essentially, they are jacks of all trades.
To ensure you find the best possible candidate, be sure to create an accurate and comprehensive job description that highlights the ways you are setting them up for success.
If you need assistance sourcing or hiring a quality account specialist, look at Insight Global’s candidate database or reach out to a team member for direct support.
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