November 6, 2023

Account Services: How to Build an Effective Team

Megan Ferris
Director of Client Solutions
No items found.

According to a study by Gartner, only 8% of leaders believe their account management systems are extremely successful. In the fast-paced world of business, the role of an effective Account Services team has never been more crucial. A well-structured Account Services team can be the competitive edge you’ve been looking for to improve client retention and form strategic relationships.

Whether you’ve just won a new client or are experiencing growth for existing accounts,this article delves into everything you need to know about building a rockstar Account Services team.

You can expect to learn more about identifying who you need to hire, what levels, and how to prioritize your hires and timelines.

What is an Account Services team

An Account Services team in advertising serves as the intermediary between advertising agencies and clients. Their core responsibilities include client communication, campaign strategy development, project management, budget oversight, creative briefing, client reporting, problem solving, and relationship building.

They maintain constant contact with clients, understanding their goals and requirements. Collaborating with clients, they formulate advertising strategies aligned with target audiences. These professionals manage campaign execution, ensuring timely and budget-compliant delivery. They also handle budgeting and financial aspects of advertising campaigns.

Moreover, the Account Services team creates detailed creative briefs, conveying clients' brand identity and messaging to creative teams. They provide regular campaign updates and reports, helping clients gauge campaign performance. When challenges arise, the team identifies solutions and addresses client concerns. Building and maintaining strong client relationships is a crucial aspect of their role, as trust and understanding are key to long-term success in advertising.

So… you’ve just won a new account and need a team to support it.

Is it time to hire a new dedicated team, use your current team, or a mixture of both?

Congratulations! You’ve just won a new account, and now you’re faced with a crucial decision: how to best support it. As mentioned before, statistics show that most account managers aren’t properly leveraging their most promising clients to achieve their organization’s goals.

Before rushing into the hiring process, it’s imperative to take a step back and evaluate the current team at your disposal. Ask yourself, how is your existing team being utilized? What is their level of productivity? Where are they allocating their time and resources? And, most importantly, is there room for your current team to contribute to the success of the new account?

With that in mind, you have three primary options when it comes to supporting the new account:

1. Brand new team across the board: If your existing team is already operating at full capacity, it makes sense to build a dedicated team from scratch. A comprehensive team is essential to effectively onboard the client, manage their strategic initiatives, oversee day-to-day operations, and coordinate the creative and production aspects of the project.

2. Use your current team: If your current team has the bandwidth and skills required for the new account, consider leveraging their expertise. Collaborate with them to determine how they can support the new client effectively. This approach not only capitalizes on existing knowledge but can also lead to a smoother experience for the client.

3. Use some of your current team and hire new talent: In some cases, you may discover that specific roles within your existing team have the capacity to take on additional responsibilities (such as account directors, supervisors, or executives). To fill any skill or resource gaps, consider hiring new team members in areas where your current team may fall short.

Next, we will delve deeper into each of these options, providing insights and strategies to help you make an informed decision on how to build an effective Account Services team for your clients. It’s a choice that can significantly impact your client’s satisfaction and your organization’s bottom line. 

When building the team - how to prioritize and who to hire

Creating an effective Account Services team is not just about the number of team members but also about the strategic mix of talent. The structure of your typical accounts team can vary greatly depending on the size and complexity of the account you’re handling. 

In a larger and more intricate account, you may need support on all levels; a group account director, account director, account supervisor, and account executive/coordinator. However, for smaller accounts, you may not need all these levels of management.

To build a team that excels in handling bigger and more strategic accounts, it’s vital to consider the unique needs of your client. Look for individuals who possess a blend of creative thinking, strong business acumen, excellent communication skills, and the ability to effectively manage a team. 

When it comes to prioritizing hiring, finding a skilled account director or group account director should be your initial focus. This first hire, or promotion from within your current team, will serve as the anchor for your Account Services team. They will not only lead the team but also play a pivotal role in shaping the team’s composition. An account director or group account director can provide valuable insights into how they will require support from account supervisors and executives, helping you structure an efficient team that aligns with the client’s objectives. 

Furthermore, having an account director or group account director in place before hiring account supervisors and executives can be a strategic advantage. Not only does it give these potential team members a clear understanding of who they will be reporting to but also instills confidence in their career development. A strong mentor at the helm is a compelling factor for junior and intermediate candidates seeking to join your team. 

Adopting a “top-down” approach to hiring (when time allows for it) can be a game-changer in building an efficient and successful Account Services team. By prioritizing key leadership roles, you not only establish a strong foundation for your team but also create a compelling proposition for attracting top talent, setting the stage for an impactful and cohesive team dynamic.

What to look for when hiring an Account Services candidate?

When it comes to hiring the right candidates for your Account Services team, your criteria should align with the unique needs and goals of your clients, as well as the complexity of the accounts you’re handling. However, there are certain fundamental qualities and skills to keep in mind for every level within the team.

Hiring for group account director/account director roles

Group account director and account director are critical roles within the realm of Account Services, bearing the weight of both leadership and strategy. To perform well in these positions, candidates must possess a unique blend of personality traits and skills. 

Strategic acumen: Candidates for these leadership roles must possess the ability to engage in strategic conversations with clients. They should be able to grasp the client’s objectives and needs, and strategically align the team’s efforts to meet them.

Client-centric approach: A key trait for account directors is the capacity to provide constructive feedback and push back on ideas, all while maintaining a “client first” approach. They must ensure the client’s interests and goals remain at the forefront of all interactions. 

Collaboration with creative teams: Account directors need to work closely with creative teams, providing them with the insights and direction required to defend creative concepts effectively to clients. This involves a strong grasp of creative processes and the ability to bridge the gap between clients and creatives.

Leadership and mentorship experience: These roles require strong mentorship and leadership skills. Account directors are not only responsible for managing client relationships but also for guiding and developing their team members. 

Managerial style: Candidates should be clear about their managerial style, whether it’s more hands-on, empowering, or a mix of both. Their approach should align with the team’s needs and the client’s expectations.

Candidates who excel in these areas are capable of crafting innovative account strategies, nurturing client relationships, collaborating effectively with creative teams, providing strong leadership, and executing their managerial style with finesse. 

Hiring for account supervisors/managers

The role of an account supervisor or manager is pivotal within your Account Services team. These individuals are responsible for orchestrating the integration of creative and strategic teams to deliver results. 

Managerial transition: Candidates for these positions should be individuals who are either ready to step into a managerial role or have recently done so. This transition involves a shift from being primarily an individual contributor to managing and leading a team effectively.

Collaborative team players: Account supervisors and managers must work seamlessly with creative and strategy teams. Their role requires fostering collaboration and ensuring that all departments work cohesively to meet the client’s needs.

Versatility: At this level, you’re looking for individuals who can both think strategically and roll up their sleeves to get hands-on with projects. They should be comfortable navigating between high-level strategy discussions and the day-to-day execution of tasks.

Strong communication skills: As these roles involve leading client calls and presenting creative ideas and concepts, strong communication skills are non-negotiable. Confidence and clarity in communication are key attributes to look for.

By emphasizing these qualities in your search for account supervisors and managers, you can build a team that is proficient in account management and well-equipped to navigate the hurdles of leadership and collaboration, ensuring the achievement of both client and organizational goals. 

Hiring for account executives/coordinators

Account executives and coordinators serve as the lifeblood of any successful Account Services team. These individuals are often at the front lines, actively supporting the management of client relationships and the execution of critical tasks. 

Ambition and willingness to learn: At this entry-level stage, candidates who display ambition and a strong desire to learn and grow are invaluable assets to your team. While they may not have years of experience to draw upon, their hunger for knowledge and motivation to excel should shine through.

The account management landscape is ever-evolving, and it’s those individuals who actively seek opportunities for growth and self-improvement that stand out. Their eagerness to take on new challenges, learn from experiences, and adapt to the industry’s dynamic demands can be the driving force behind your team’s continual improvement. 

Passion and work ethic: It’s important to dive into what excites and motivates candidates at this stage. Their passion for the industry, their work, and their overall work ethic can be strong indicators of their potential. It’s not just about the qualifications listed on their resumes but also about what truly fuels their commitment to the industry and the work they do. 

By aligning your hiring criteria with these key qualities and skills at each level, you can build a dynamic and effective Account Services team that not only meets the needs of your clients but also fosters professional growth and development for your team members. 

Better client retention starts with an Account Services team

It’s no secret that most account managers aren’t effectively leveraging their most strategic customers to achieve the organization’s revenue and growth objectives. The age-old saying that “80% of work comes from 20% of your clients” really is true for most businesses, so it’s important that your team understands how to effectively foster those relationships if you want to improve the longevity of your organization.

The statistics speak for themselves, showcasing the direct correlation between proficient account management and higher client retention and increased revenue. From the pivotal decision of whether to build a new team, utilize your existing one, or combine the two, to the essential considerations when hiring at various levels, the success of your Account Services team is deeply intertwined with the choices you make. 

The ability to foster strategic client relationships, provide constructive client-centric feedback, and seamlessly bridge the gap between creative and strategic teams is key to your team’s success. Connect with our team at Creative Niche and let us share our wealth of experience—helping you craft high-performing Account Services teams tailored to your clients’ unique needs and aspirations.

Building an Account Services team starts with Creative Niche

Creative Niche’s track record includes supporting clients in their very first steps as they build out their Account Services team from the ground up. We understand the unique challenges and considerations that come with this endeavor, and we’re here to provide the guidance and resources you need to ensure a successful start. 

For more established agencies within expansive networks, we specialize in evaluating your existing team’s capabilities and identifying the precise areas where additional hires are essential for achieving your strategic objectives. Our in-depth analysis helps pinpoint the most critical roles, ensuring that your team operates at its highest potential and aligns seamlessly with your clients’ needs. 

If you’re uncertain about where to begin or how to navigate the intricacies of building and optimizing your Account Services team, we invite you to connect with our expert team. We can provide you with insights, strategies, and success stories from our experience in building and enhancing account services teams for a variety of agencies. 

To learn more about our scale-up services and to explore our portfolio of successful Account Services and team-building initiatives, reach out to us today! Our commitment is to empower your agency to thrive and excel in a competitive marketplace. 

Hire with Creative Niche

At Creative Niche, we’ve had the privilege of collaborating with numerous reputable agencies to assist in scaling their account services teams. Whether you’re embarking on the journey of hiring your first account management professional or you’re part of a large network agency seeking to identify and fill critical gaps in your team, we have the expertise and experience to guide you effectively.

Hire Talent