Client relationship managers can be employed by any company looking to build a strong base of clients or customers.
Client relationship management, also known as customer success management, is focused on building relationships with clients to ensure that their needs are met, they are satisfied with the services and/or products provided by the company and any challenges are overcome. As well as maintaining relationships with existing clients and working within the boundaries of what is already offered by the employer, as a client relationship manager you may be involved in identifying new sales opportunities and making product development and sales teams aware of these. This involves researching, monitoring and analysing industry trends.
Some employers might conflate the roles of client relationship manager/customer success manager and account executive. So, it's important to look closely at the job description to know exactly what will be expected of you. However, where the positions are separated out, the difference is subtle but important. While account executives focus on the goals of their employer throughout their communications with clients, the targets of client relationship managers are more closely aligned to those of the client. This might involve, for instance, pursuing a high ROI (return on investment) for the client. Immediate goals and priorities, therefore, will be different, but the aims of the employer (eg in terms of revenue) will naturally still be kept in-mind and pursued.
Day to day a client relationship manager might be:
- ensuring your existing clients are satisfied through after-sales care, as well as gaining and using feedback
- identifying and approaching potential new companies or individuals to engage as clients
- researching industry trends and providing advice to colleagues about client strategy or new sales opportunities
- giving presentations to clients about products or services
- acting as a point of contact for complaints and escalating issues as appropriate
- ensuring that the terms of a contract are adhered to by both your employer and clients
- understanding and helping to meet the targets and aims of the client.
Client relationship managers can be employed by any company looking to build a strong base of clients or customers. While some of the most typical employers are listed below, you may be able to find a position as a client relationship manager in many industries – including, for instance, luxury retail.
- Large banks or financial services organisations
- Recruitment firms
- Law firms
- Training providers.
When searching for vacancies, TARGETjobs is a strong place to start. You could also use recruitment agencies or search for jobs websites particular to the industry you would like to enter – for example, finance or law.
Some big graduate employers in areas such as IT, finance and consumer goods run sales graduate schemes that focus on building and managing relationships with clients. These are likely to be called ‘sales’ or ‘commercial’ programmes, offering an insight into different areas of sales to set you up for specialising – potentially in client relationship management – on completion. You may need at least a 2.1 degree to be considered and you might be expected to have a degree in a relevant subject; for example, an IT company may seek IT or business graduates for its sales graduate scheme. Some schemes will also expect some sales experience while, for others, relevant skills and attributes (such as communication skills and passion for sales) are required. So, you might find that gaining some work experience in sales (whether through a part-time job, internship or another opportunity) helps you to demonstrate that you have the skills and/or experience needed.
Alternatively, you could become a client relationship manager having built up your experience through any entry-level role or internship in the industry you’re looking to enter – whether that’s finance, law or any other area. It is likely that you will also have to demonstrate your aptitude when it comes to selling. You might gain work experience in a sales environment; any type of experience – whether that’s an entry-level job, an internship or another opportunity – will be valuable. You could combine your sales experience with your industry experience, too. For example, to become a client relationship manager in the technology industry, you might start out as a sales executive for an IT company.
- Strong negotiation and influencing skills
- The ability to communicate confidently – both through speaking and writing – with colleagues and clients from all levels of an organisation
- A level of creativity when it comes to thinking of new sales opportunities
- The ability to research and keep on top of developments in the industry (an interest in the industry will help)
- Commercial awareness.