What is a Client Relationship Manager?
A client relationship manager is a professional who manages the process of developing and maintaining effective business relations with clients. Common duties for this position may include monitoring accounts, organizing and conducting internal training, creating and maintaining relationships with client partners at various levels, developing sales plans, managing budgets, preparing sales literature and articles describing products, and maintaining the confidentiality of information about the business.
This article explains the role of a client relationship manager, the essential skills and qualities of client relations managers, and recommended education and training to prepare for this career.
What Does a Client Relationship Manager Do?
A client relationship manager is a business professional who develops and manages client relationships. These professionals oversee the customer relationship management process, which includes identifying customer needs and expectations, developing strategies to meet those needs, and implementing strategies to ensure that clients remain satisfied with their experience.
Client relationship managers can work closely with marketing managers to develop campaigns that will help meet these needs. They might also work alongside sales managers to improve the customer experience by providing feedback on how well campaigns work. In general, their day-to-day duties can include:
- Maintaining Client Communications: This involves communicating with clients over email, phone, and social media to ensure that they are satisfied, resolving any issues quickly.
- Monitoring Performance Metrics: Client relationship managers should be able to analyze data and make recommendations based on it. They may also have access to tools that allow them to track trends in sales and customer satisfaction.
- Planning Events and Activities: Client relationship managers may host events for clients, such as seminars or workshops, to serve as a relationship-building activity and maintain contact between meetings.
Client Relationship Manager vs. Marketing Manager
A client relationship manager is not the same role as a marketing manager, although some of their duties might overlap. The marketing manager’s job is to ensure that the company has a strong marketing strategy and that all employees work together to deliver on that strategy. They focus on the customer’s knowledge about a product or service and how to deliver it effectively.
The client relationship manager focuses on maintaining relationships with existing clients and building relationships with new ones. The client relations manager must know what each client wants from their connection with the company and ensure they receive their products or services. They must also understand the client’s communication style and the frequency of communication.
In other words, client relationship managers focus on keeping clients engaged and satisfied, which means creating strategies, so the customers get the most value out of their products and services. Marketing managers focus on getting new clients by creating effective marketing campaigns.
Client Relationship Manager Earning Potential
Client relationship managers supervise client relationships and retain clients by providing support, answering questions, and resolving issues. They may also be responsible for ensuring that the company’s products or services meet customer expectations.
The salary range for the role may depend on several factors such as company size, location, and the professional’s education and tenure. In addition, companies may offer bonuses or other incentives based on performance.
According to data from Payscale, as of October 2022, the average annual salary for a client relationship manager is approximately $65,000. Payscale data also shows that the top 10% of client relationship managers can earn as much as $110,000 annually.
Skills and Qualities
Client relationship managers find themselves in a unique position: they’re responsible for building relationships with clients and keeping track of their performance and growth.
As a result, the most successful client relationship managers have a good mix of soft and hard skills. They can handle the day-to-day tasks that come with managing clients, so time management is a must, along with understanding how to track sales and goals management.
In practice, that will mean some level of proficiency in:
- Flexibility: Client relationship managers need to be flexible and adaptable, especially when unexpected changes in their schedule arise.
- Account management: Client relationship managers should have excellent communication skills to build and maintain relationships with new and existing partners.
- Problem-solving: Client relationship managers should also be able to resolve issues quickly and effectively, not wasting the client’s time.
- Conflict resolution: Client relationship managers will likely run into situations where they need to be a mediator between two individuals or groups. It is imperative to handle this situation professionally, without causing further problems for themselves or others involved.
- Written Communication Skills: Client relationship managers regularly communicate with clients via email and other written channels, so writing clearly, concisely, and professionally is a must.
Payscale also identifies several skills that can affect a client relationship manager’s salary potential, including:
- Portfolio management
- Investment management
- Contract negotiation
- Financial analysis
- Email marketing
While this is not a comprehensive list of skills, it’s clear that having a broad skill set can improve a client relationship manager’s expertise and marketability.
Education and Training
Client relationship management serves an important role. When job performance is effective, it sets the foundation for all other marketing strategies and initiatives to succeed. Organizations employ client relationship managers with the expectation that they will help to meet client expectations in the following ways:
- Provide insight into the development of new products and services
- Help to find new ways to market existing products
- Work to understand what clients want
- Identify new and more efficient ways to deliver products to their clients
The education requirements to become a client relationship manager can vary depending on the employer, the professional’s related experience and skills, and other factors. According to Glassdoor, most employers require at least a bachelor’s degree in business or a related field for an entry-level role. However, completing a master’s degree in a related field or earning certification can help position professionals for a more advanced role in client relationship management.
Master’s degrees like Florida Tech’s online MBA with a Concentration in Marketing program, teach students how to develop and implement marketing strategies in ways that intersect with the role of a client relations manager. The curriculum aims to provide students with the skills to:
- Apply marketing theory to real-world situations
- Understand how different cultures view marketing and advertising
- Learn how to develop a plan for reaching your target audience
- Determine which type of advertising works best for your business
These skills allow students to build on their existing marketing knowledge, apply it to the client relationship management process, and learn the operation of different types of businesses and what they need from their clients’ perspectives.