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Account Manager vs. Relationship Manager: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Account managers and relationship managers are both important positions in the business world. They share some similarities, but there are also several key differences between the two. In this article, we discuss the similarities and differences between account managers and relationship managers, and we provide tips for pursuing a career in either field.

What is an Account Manager?

An account manager is responsible for maintaining and expanding relationships with existing clients. They work to ensure that the client is satisfied with the products or services they are receiving and that the client’s needs are being met. Account managers work closely with other members of the sales team, such as account executives, to develop new business opportunities. They may also be responsible for training new sales team members. In some cases, account managers may also be responsible for managing a team of sales representatives.

What is a Relationship Manager?

Relationship Managers are responsible for developing and maintaining positive relationships with a company’s clients. They work closely with clients to ensure they are satisfied with the company’s products or services and that their needs are being met. Relationship Managers typically work in customer service or sales and may be responsible for a specific client base or geographical region. They regularly check in with clients, provide updates on new products or services, and troubleshoot any problems that may arise. In some cases, Relationship Managers may also be responsible for developing new business with potential clients.

Account Manager vs. Relationship Manager

Here are the main differences between an account manager and a relationship manager.

Job Duties

Both account and relationship managers have similar job duties, like creating and executing marketing strategies. They may work with the same clients, like retail companies or healthcare providers. The main difference is that an account manager focuses on the client’s needs in terms of advertising, while a relationship manager considers the client’s requirements for product development.

Another key difference is that a relationship manager has more discretion when it comes to their job duties. A client may come to them with ideas about how to improve products or create new ones. The account manager may help implement those ideas, but they don’t make decisions about the products themselves.

Job Requirements

Both account managers and relationship managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration, marketing or another related field. However, some employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree as well. Additionally, many account managers and relationship managers pursue certifications through the American Marketing Association (AMA) or the Institute of Certified Professional Managers (ICPM). These organizations offer training programs that teach professionals how to use customer relationship management software and other tools they might need on the job.

Work Environment

Account and relationship managers typically work in different environments. Account managers often work in an office setting, where they can collaborate with other team members to develop strategies for their clients. They may also travel to meet with clients or attend conferences related to their industry.

Relationship managers usually work in a more casual environment, such as a coffee shop or restaurant. This allows them to build relationships with customers by providing excellent customer service.


Both account managers and relationship managers need to have excellent communication skills. They will be responsible for communicating with clients regularly, whether it is to provide updates on the status of their account or to discuss new opportunities. They also need to be able to build strong relationships with their clients, so that they can better understand their needs and provide them with the best possible service.

Organizational skills are important for both account managers and relationship managers, as they need to be able to keep track of multiple clients and deadlines. They should also be able to prioritize their work in order to ensure that the most important tasks are completed first.

Account managers typically need to have a good understanding of financial concepts, as they may be responsible for managing budgets and invoices. Relationship managers may also need to have some knowledge of finance, but their focus is more likely to be on building relationships than on numbers.


The average salary for an account manager is $75,495 per year, while the average salary for a relationship manager is $72,293 per year. Both of these positions may see their salaries vary depending on the size of the company, the industry in which they work and their level of experience.


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