Relationship managers exist to improve an organization’s relationships with its partners and customers. The term “relationship manager” is fairly new and is still evolving. A relationship manager has several duties including increasing sales, improving client and partner relations, establishing new relationships and leveraging partnerships that increase efficiency, profit, market dominance, and value.
A strong relationship manager is not only concerned with making a sale but forming a strong relationship where they take on the role of consultant that provides solutions utilizing their specific products or services.
Relationship manager positions can be found in virtually all industries including financial services, electronics, advertising, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, and wholesale.
Education and Training
An associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree in business, marketing, sales, management, or communications provides excellent preparation and is preferred by larger organizations.
Existing relationship managers typically engage in training to improve their relationship building, leadership, and sales skills. Many companies have formal training programs for existing relationship managers and relationship manager trainees.
How to Become a Relationship Manager
Most relationship managers have sales experience. Becoming a relationship manager varies by industry but they are typically reserved for people who have a strong history of sales success. Most people are assistant relationship managers, account executives, or sales people before making the vertical move to relationship management. Most relationship management positions are posted in traditional advertising mediums including internet job sites, print classified ads, web and print industry journals, college job boards, organizational web sites, and newspapers. Multiple rounds of interviews are generally required including mock sales presentations.
Relationship manager positions are expected to grow as fast as the average occupation. Consumer and business spending greatly influences the employment outlook. Outlook does vary according to industry. Outsourcing has negatively affected relationship management positions as some organizations have gone overseas to find customer satisfaction personnel. Relationship managers tend to eventually move on to positions in management.
Many relationship managers have flexible schedules. Much of their time is spent in the field meeting with clients and prospective clients. They must balance their time between fostering the relationships they have and forming new ones. The position can be very stressful because of the importance of reaching sales numbers. The environment is typically fast paced and constantly changing. People interested in this career must be very comfortable presenting, selling, and speaking on the phone. Some relationship managers are required to travel as they are given a specific territory to cover. Travel can be local, regional, national or international.
Salary and Benefits
Because of the broad classification it is difficult to determine the average salary. The most recent employment data shows the average annual salary is $$40,000-80,000. Relationship managers in the information technology and financial services sectors can easily make over $100,000 per year. Full benefits including medical, dental, vision and retirement are common. Many relationship managers make commission and can earn bonuses and various perks when sales figures are met by them and the company.