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13 best books account managers must read (and why)

Account Management Books
Topics
The top account management books
Best all-around account management books
Best books for honing your communication skills
Best books on foundational sales techniques
Best account management books for developing sales strategies
Best sales book to understand organizational behavior
Final thoughts

From communication to strategy, account managers play many roles to help maintain and nurture their company’s most profitable customers.

Account management books can help you build the skills you need to be a successful account manager. Learn from the experts who have seen and done it all.

In this article, we’ve put together 13 of the best account management books covering the fundamentals of account management, strategies for key accounts and building flourishing relationships with your customers.


The top account management books

Account managers need many hard and soft skills to be effective. Dozens of sales books promise to deliver these skills, covering everything from the basics to specific strategies account managers can use to grow relationships with their customers.

However, not all of the published account management books are worth reading. Some have become outdated, while others repeat what’s already been said better elsewhere.

To maximize your time, we’ve selected the 13 best account management books for you to read. These are seminal works that have stood the test of time to deliver the skills and knowledge account managers need.

We’ve split these books into five categories: account management in general, communication, foundational sales techniques, strategy and organizational behavior.

As every sales professional has learning needs and reading preferences, our recommendations are listed in no particular order.


Best all-around account management books

We’ve selected six of the best sales books considered essential reading in the account management space. These are the books that will help you:

  • Understand essential account management skills

  • Learn how to categorize and target key accounts

  • Kickstart your career as an account manager

If you’re looking to upskill in account management or move from general account manager to key account manager, these are essential reads.

The New Successful Large Account Management

The New Successful Large Account Management


Written by Robert B. Miller, Stephen E. Heiman and Tad Tuleja, The New Successful Large Account Management is a crucial resource for any account manager.

The book focuses on the importance of fostering relationships with key customers. In order to achieve these long-term and profitable connections, you'll need to have a measurable impact on the customer’s profitability and relationships. Miller and Heiman explain that you can do this using the Large Account Management Process (or “LAMP”).

Miller and Heiman both have decades of experience in sales, consulting and senior management. They run Miller Heiman sales training and previously published Strategic Selling, one of the foundational sales books that much of modern selling is based on.

What you’ll learn from this account management book:

  • A fundamental structure that account managers can implement in their organization

  • How to select key accounts and systematically research customers

  • How to use the LAMP sales process to maximize profitability

Buy the book from KoganPage: The New Successful Large Account Management.

Super Strategist: The Art and Science of Modern Account Planning

Super Strategist


Super Strategist: The Art and Science of Modern Account Planning is a contemporary guide for both industry newcomers and experienced salespeople. Lesley Bielby is an industry veteran leading a full-service agency.

Bielby illustrates her advice with multiple concrete examples, making it easy to understand exactly how to implement her sales strategy. From branding to research, to mapping the customer journey, Bielby covers every facet of account management.

What you’ll learn from this account management book:

  • Practical advice for beginners getting into account management

  • Actionable strategies for account managers of all levels to excel at customer success

  • Step-by-step plans for how to achieve success with clients of any size

  • How-to guides, including how to conduct research, how to create powerful briefs and what you can do to improve the customer journey

Buy the book from Figure1 Publishing: Super Strategist: The Art and Science of Modern Account Planning.

Key Account Management and Planning

Key Account Management and Planning


Key Account Management and Planning: The Comprehensive Handbook for Managing Your Company’s Most Important Strategic Asset is exactly what its long title promises – an exhaustive guide to key account management.

Noel Capon is a Professor of International Marketing and one of the leading educators in strategic sales management. Having been involved in many educational courses around the world, Capon can be relied upon for sound advice.

What you’ll learn from this account management book:

  • A thorough analysis of why account management is crucial in modern sales

  • Detailed explanations for every step of account management, from client selection to strategy development

  • Step-by-step guides, detailed examples and evidence for time-proven strategies that you can implement in your sales approach

  • An understanding of how to become a sales manager that achieves highly

Buy the book from Simon and Schuster: Key Account Management and Planning: The Comprehensive Handbook for Managing Your Company’s Most Important Strategic Asset.

Key Account Management: The Definitive Guide


Written by Diana Woodburn and Malcolm McDonald, Key Account Management is full of practical advice for account managers and C-suite executives. It’s written in an academic style, distilling the science of key account management.

This is no book for beginners, and it’s mostly targeted toward large multinational companies. However, the lessons in this book will benefit account managers at organizations of all sizes.

Woodburn and McDonald are both Key Account Management (KAM) specialists with decades of experience in the field.

What you’ll learn from this account management book:

  • State-of-the-art strategies for key account managers working at the highest level

  • The activities that really matter in account management, including customer categorization, understanding key skills and developing effective management plans

  • A real-world approach based on tested principles from the Cranfield School of Management

Buy the book from Wiley: Key Account Management: The Definitive Guide.

The Seven Keys to Managing Strategic Accounts

The Seven Keys to Managing Strategic Accounts


Strategic or key accounts are crucial for the success or failure of your business. The Seven Keys to Managing Strategic Accounts provides a series of best practices that you can use to manage these accounts more intelligently.

The Seven Keys of Managing Strategic Accounts is the result of a collaboration between Miller Heiman and S4 Consulting, two of the leading strategic account management firms.

What you’ll learn from this account management book:

  • Strategies to develop an organization-wide commitment to meeting the needs of your key accounts

  • Methods to develop multi-level business relationships rather than relying on a single contact

  • Processes to easily assess and improve the value you’re providing your major accounts

Buy the book from S4 Consulting: The Seven Keys to Managing Strategic Accounts.

Mastering Account Management: 102 Steps for Increasing Sales, Serving Your Customers Better, and Working Less

Mastering Account Management


Mastering Account Management starts with the premise that your existing customers are more likely to do business with you than new prospects. Based on the importance of customer retention, it provides an easy-to-follow blueprint that companies can use to build strong customer relationships with those most likely to buy.

In his time managing sales and client service, author Dan Englander realized that many companies don’t take the right steps to get repeat business from their best customers. This book outlines the necessary steps to develop an easily repeatable account management process for faster returns.

What you’ll learn from this account management book:

  • The initiatives that top account managers use to gain repeat business from their customers

  • How to prioritize the customer experience to develop long-term partnerships

  • How to leverage new technology and apps to streamline account management

Buy the book on Amazon: Mastering Account Management: 102 Steps for Increasing Sales, Serving Your Customers Better, and Working Less.


Best books for honing your communication skills

As an account manager, you need to excel at communicating with customers and managing your sales team members. Whether it’s on the phone, in person or over email, communication is what helps you build business relationships.

Here are the best books for developing communication skills that will help you nurture strong account relationships.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

How to Win Friends and Influence People


How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the longest-lasting and best-selling self-help books ever written. However, it’s more than a self-help book; it offers timeless advice on leadership, how to develop flourishing client relationships and how to speak to people more effectively.

Dale Carnegie taught hugely successful courses on customer relations and public speaking before writing his best-selling book. Since its original publishing in 1936, it’s gone through multiple revisions and in 2011 it was number 19 on Time’s list of 100 most influential books.

What you’ll learn from this account management book:

  • How to communicate well and get others to see your side of the argument

  • How to make people like you

  • How to get more things done and be a more effective leader

  • How to successfully navigate any social situation

Buy the book on Amazon: How to Win Friends and Influence People.

How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships

How to talk to anyone


Author Leil Lowndes is an internationally recognized communications expert specializing in subconscious interactions (like body language). In her book, she’s provided a collection of useful tricks you can use to improve your social interactions in a business networking environment.

Some of these tips are quite counterintuitive. For example, she recommends waiting for a caller to announce their name before sounding excited (rather than being excited as soon as you answer). This lets the caller feel like you’re excited to hear from them rather than from anybody.

What you’ll learn from this account management book:

  • A series of nonverbal communication tips, including body language and vocal tone adjustments that will improve your communication skills

  • Increased awareness of your social behavior and how you can level up your networking game

Buy the book on Amazon: How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships.


Best books on foundational sales techniques

Every account manager needs a strong foundation in pivotal sales techniques. While there are many famous sales techniques out there, only a few have stood the test of time.

If you’re just getting started, or you want to brush up on some of the fundamentals, we highly recommend reading these books.

SPIN Selling

SPIN Selling


SPIN Selling is essential reading for anyone in sales, from people on the ground to high-level managers. Written by Neil Rackham, the founder of Huthwaite corporation, SPIN Selling is the result of a 12-year, $1 million research effort into what is effective in sales.

SPIN stands for Situation, Problem, Implication and Need-payoff. The SPIN selling methodology focuses on how to ask the right questions, find answers and uncover solutions to your prospect’s needs.

What you’ll learn from this account management book:

  • Simple, practical and actionable ways to apply the SPIN methodology

  • An understanding of why traditional sales methodologies won’t work for larger organizations

  • Real-world examples, graphics and case studies examining the best sales methods available today

Buy the book on Amazon: SPIN Selling.

The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation

The Challenger Sale


Another seminal sales book, The Challenger Sale is also based on a massive study of sales professionals around the world. Authors Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon revealed that, among the different sales approaches, high-performers were most likely to follow the Challenger sales model.

This type of sales rep offers new perspectives and doesn’t shy away from the tough parts of a conversation. The resulting Challenger Sales model encourages sales reps to copy these high-performing “Challengers” when conducting sales activities.

What you’ll learn from this account management book:

  • The five different types of sales reps

  • The skills you need to become a high-performing salesperson

  • How to teach customers, tailor your message toward their needs and take control of the sale

  • How to coach your sales reps to become Challengers, regardless of their approach before sales training

Buy the book on Amazon:The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation

The New Strategic Selling: The Unique Sales System Proven Successful by the World’s Best Companies

New Strategic Selling


Strategic Selling, released in 1985, was a ground-breaking book that changed the way people approached sales. The New Strategic Selling is the follow-up to this foundational book, addressing how the world of sales has changed since its original publication.

With real-life examples, The New Strategic Selling addresses the evolving world of business-to-business (B2B) sales based on the “Win-Win” framework laid out in the original book.

Written by Robert B. Miller, Stephen E. Heiman and Tad Tuleja, this book is best for new account managers and salespeople looking to up their game with a different perspective.

What you’ll learn from this account management book:

  • How to identify and gain access to the real decision-makers in any corporation

  • How to navigate problems and prevent deal-killers

  • How to determine which businesses will be good customers

  • How to avoid common errors when dealing with competition

Buy the book from Grand Central Publishing: The New Strategic Selling: The Unique Sales System Proven Successful by the World’s Best Companies.


Best account management books for developing sales strategies

A major difference between traditional account managers and highly successful key account managers is the level of strategy involved. The larger your accounts, the more strategic you need to be to juggle moving parts and orchestrate long-term plans.

Here are two books that will help you generate and prioritize long-term relationships with a solid strategic approach.

Major Account Sales Strategy

Written by Neil Rackham, author of SPIN Selling, this book is considered reference material for account managers of all levels. In it, you’ll find a stack of proven strategies for the entire major account sales cycle. From finding clients to developing long-term relationships, it’s all there.

Major Account Sales Strategy is basically a sequel to SPIN Selling. Whereas SPIN covers the fundamentals for salespeople, Major Account Sales Strategy takes these lessons and expands on them at great length.

What you’ll learn from this account management book:

  • How to tailor your strategy to match the customer’s decision-making process

  • How to understand your customers and respond to their doubts

  • How to use multiple entry points to gain access to new accounts

  • How to deal with competitors, handle negotiations and provide ongoing support to customers

Buy the book on Amazon: Major Account Sales Strategy

Key Strategy Tools: The 80+ Tools for Every Manager to Build a Winning Strategy

Key Strategy Tools


Key Strategy Tools provides sales managers with 88 key strategies that will help them build unbreakable bonds with customers and ensure long-term business success. The book provides a detailed explanation for each strategy, including how to use them, when they’ll be effective and when to use a different strategy.

Vaughan Evans is a strategy consultant that has specialized in business planning and strategy for over four decades.

What you’ll learn from this account management book:

  • 88 strategic tools to improve your competitive position and make informed decisions for your business

  • How to make an unbeatable sales plan and manage your accounts effectively

  • The pros and cons of each strategic model and detailed explanations of where each model can be best deployed in the strategy process

Buy the book on Amazon: Key Strategy Tools: The 80+ Tools for Every Manager to Build a Winning Strategy.


Best sales book to understand organizational behavior

Organizations are complex, and the bigger they are, the more complicated they become. Understanding fundamental organizational behaviors can help you recognize how your customers make decisions, think about costs and coordinate their resources.

Fair warning: this book we’ve recommended for understanding organizational behavior is dense and academic. It’s not for the weak of heart, but if you take notes while you read it, you’ll come out the other end with a far better understanding of your customers.

The Modern Firm: Organizational Design for Performance and Growth

The Modern Firm


The Modern Firm explains how business firms are changing the way they behave. From organizational design to routines and processes, businesses are experimenting to find ways to improve their performance and growth.

John Roberts provides a way for organizations to understand these changes and keep up in an increasingly competitive environment. These insights provide value beyond account management to many other areas of organizational design, including project management.

What you’ll learn from this account management book:

  • How businesses are changing and what’s causing these changes

  • Why organizations act the way they do, along with insights that can be applied to account management strategies

Buy the book at Oxford University Press: The Modern Firm: Organizational Design for Performance and Growth.


Final thoughts

Studying is an indispensable way to level up your skills in account management. It’s convenient and affordable, and you can always return to timeless books to refresh your knowledge when needed.

All of the books we’ve listed in this article are invaluable reads for anyone serious about account management. We recommend taking a deeper look at these books to fill in any gaps in your knowledge that will help you become a more effective manager.

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