February 03, 2023   |   by Tyler Cooley   |   Account Manager

How Difficult Interactions Made Me A Better Account Manager

Tyler reflects on the lessons he's learned throughout his career as an Account Manager.

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By nature, I am a people pleaser. In fact, my enjoyment of helping others led to the career path I chose. But as an Account Manager, especially in the agency world, not everything is going to be unicorns and rainbows. And although the days that we can deliver a blog, a video, or a report that makes a client’s face light up are the ones we live for, there are always going to be days where a deliverable falls flat with a client… and those are the days that make us better Account Managers.

I don’t care who you are, you have probably faced adversity of some kind in the workplace. Unfortunately, it is an inevitability. Most times it can be solved relatively easily and you move on with your life. But for someone in a client-facing role, those less-than-ideal situations can send you right back to the days of school presentations that you stayed up all night working on and receiving a failing grade. What’s worse, you don’t get to move on from one bad grade, because that one bad client encounter can sour an entire relationship. 

At this point, you are probably thinking, “Is this blog about how an Account Management position can emotionally scar you for life?” I assure you, it is not. 

So what are some things I have learned from difficult client interactions that have made me a better Account Manager?

There is no “crying” in marketing (metaphorically or literally).

When I first started working in client services years ago, I used to get so stressed out about negative feedback from a client that I would feel sick. I obviously was not handling it well. 

One day I delivered something to a client and they were very unhappy with it. I must have had a look on my face like I was about to throw up, because they stopped and said, “Are you ok?” I was honest and told them that I just felt bad about them being so unhappy. 

“No one is going to die because you guys messed up,” they told me. “It’s just marketing. You didn’t kill anyone. This can be fixed.” 

They had a point. We are here to do our best, but sometimes we will miss the mark. Rather than losing sleep, we need to fix the problem, move on, and learn from our mistakes. Needless to say, that lesson impacted me moving forward in my career.

Take ownership of the problem. 

This is advice we can all live by. Don’t cover up or stall when you mess up. Just own it and do better next time. I have seen so many coworkers, internally and externally, try to cover mistakes by passing the blame or making excuses or even flat-out lying. Don’t. Just don’t. I can promise you that it catches up to you, and the client will be infinitely more upset if they find out that you didn’t just take ownership, so just do it from the start. 

Sometimes it has nothing to do with you. 

This one was hard for me to accept as a natural people pleaser, but you just have to accept that people have bad days, and them being upset may have nothing to do with you. Clients are humans just like everyone else. Sometimes they have a bad day and you just happened to be in the way of that, so just accept that and remember to give them some grace.

I want to conclude by saying that yes, there will be times in this position where it gets hard. Clients will feel frustrated and you feel frustrated. But when it comes down to it, I have learned so many great lessons from the hardest days and I wouldn’t change anything about it. I think Account Managers have the best job in the whole agency. We get to be the ones that are there through hard times and the good times, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Rather than losing sleep, we need to fix the problem, move on, and learn from our mistakes.
-Tyler Cooley