What skills does the new breed of B2B Marketing agency need?

The role of the B2B Marketing Account Manager, like most marketing-related roles, is evolving quickly.

Everything is going digital (aside from those awesomely creative direct mailers – we’ll always love those).

Websites, landing pages, videos, social media – these are the standard stock of most B2B marketers today. They track blog views, subscribers, downloads, MQLs and SQLs like it’s going out of fashion (which it isn’t). It’s a race – who will find the next best way to generate more (and better) leads? How can we get more people to our website? These are the questions that keep B2B marketers awake at night. They could really use an agency account team that guides them, keeps them informed of the great new tools available, and can help them navigate these new waters.

So what does this mean for the new breed of account managers….?  Rather than reading up on Programmatic Advertising or trying to work out how Outbrain works, what can they do to be at the top of their game?

We asked some leading agency figures to share their thoughts on the matter.


Account Managers need to develop digital depth

“We find that some candidates still only have limited digital experience. Sure, they can talk in general terms about the use of social media and online tools. But they need to demonstrate a depth of understanding of how to apply those digital tools in a long-term lead nurture/engagement campaign. It’s time that B2B marketers learned from their B2C counterparts when it comes to digital.” says Enigma Marketing MD, Martin Simcock.

Martin explains that “what were once traditional agencies are now becoming digital agencies, and what were once digital agencies are becoming software development houses. This is because client briefs are changing so much. What it means is that there needs to be a massive shift change in account management skills.“

Dave Pickering, Head of Client Services at Graymatter agrees: “Finding great B2B account managers is a challenge. The reality is that to be the best Account Manager in the business you’ll need to specialise in one or two areas and then keep abreast of the changes and new trends as they arise. You must then translate this into practical advice and guidance for your customers so that they can make use of it before it becomes widely adopted as best practice. This is how you achieve customer lock-in and become a trusted advisor. I often remind people that one man’s everyday is another man’s innovation!”

So what should candidates do? Martin’s advice is to “focus on developing your skills around emerging tools such as analytics, customer behaviour reporting, etc. But remember that you still need the softer skills to be able to communicate with the client.”

Specialise – but not at expense of your ‘soft’ skills

Account managers who specialise – whether in social, content, branding or something else –  are much more valuable to an agency than those who can only work at a superficial level.  That said, Account Managers still need to be able to work with a client, understanding and interpreting their needs to the rest of the team. It takes a certain type of person to be a great Account Manager and that doesn’t change, it’s just that you need to up your game and take it to the next level.

Develop opinions – educated opinions

“Have an opinion, put a stake in the ground and state your case. Tell us which technology or social channels you recommend and why. Be prepared to talk about the market, our competitors, current trends and future activities. But always use some measure of fact or research or insight to back your opinions up,“  says Martin.

At Invoke we’re always looking for great digital account managers. We also want to help account managers who feel that it’s time to develop and grow. Either way, we’d love to hear from you!

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