The Most Important Trait of a Successful National Account Manager

Article written by Dave Knowles

In a recent poll, we asked industry peers, ‘What is the most important trait of a successful national account manager?’.

Account management is a multi-faceted role. A successful account manager must deal with multiple communication channels. Internally they have to manage various departments e.g. manufacturing, supply chain, marketing, finance etc. Externally, they’re dealing with; national buying teams, regional buying teams, supply chain, finance etc.

Top account managers must also navigate a wide-ranging number of tasks. These tasks range from forecasting demand and managing range reviews, to negotiating with your buyer, commercial modelling, budgeting, planning promotions, landing growth opportunities, and solving problems. On top of this, you can overlay seasonal trading opportunities, which vary depending upon which category you’re working on.

An experienced account manager will know which plate needs spinning at which time, to ensure an optimised performance for both the supplier and the retailer.

Here are three areas where account managers can help to maximise their account’s performance in 2021, and beyond:

1. Forecasting- The ability to review the latest sales performance and market data, is critical to generating a robust forecast. Over-forecast and you commit too much of your cash to stockholding. Under-forecast and you run out of stock and let down your customers. Having a solid forecast is critical to successful performance.

2. Prioritisation- A top account manager must be able to understand and quantify the size of various opportunities and challenges, then prioritise what needs to be done and when.

3. Use of data- Analysis of robust data, which can be in turn converted into positive and actionable insight, is invaluable. Have a good understanding of the market dynamics and you’ll be a key strategic partner to your buying teams. Fail to grasp where the growth opportunities lie, and you’ll be chasing the competition.

There is however one area which I haven’t mentioned, which funnily enough was the winner of our poll. With 49% of the votes, the most important trait for a successful account manager was ‘Resilience’. Now many suppliers and retailers are trying to annualise 2020’s record breaking sales performance, there has never been a better time to test it.

Dave Knowles is the founder of Alpine Account Management, and runs ‘The Complete National Account Manager’ online training course. For more info please go to



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