How Emotional Intelligence Boosts Key Account Management Success

Do your account managers have the soft skills to succeed?  

A suite of soft skills called emotional intelligence improves customer experiences by 29%, customer loyalty by 28%, and customer advocacy by 23% according to a Harvard Business Review study.

So, it stands to reason that key account managers (KAMs) with high emotional intelligence are more effective at retaining and growing their accounts.

These characteristics are a game-changer for KAMs, enabling them to shine in every aspect of their role.

In this post, we discuss what emotional intelligence is, how it increases account manager success, and how to develop these attributes in your account managers.

What is Emotional Intelligence or EQ?

Emotional intelligence is “The ability to recognize, understand, and deal skillfully with one's own emotions and the emotions of others. For instance, by regulating one's emotions or by showing empathy and good judgment in social interactions,” according to Merriam-Webster.

Also known as emotional quotient (EQ), emotional intelligence is comprised of five attributes, including self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, empathy, and motivation.

How EQ Boosts Account Manager Success

Account managers who have highly developed emotional intelligence are more effective than those who have not mastered these skills. Each of the characteristics of emotional intelligence helps account managers more effectively and efficiently fulfill their role.


Self-awareness is the capacity to recognize and discern your emotions as well as how they might affect your actions and other people. Self-aware account managers are more adept at managing their time and energy around their emotions. So, they are less likely to affect clients with their own negative feelings.

This ability means that the account manager listens carefully to concerns, complaints, and suggestions shared by a client. Then they pause before responding, to carefully consider the situation from the customer’s perspective, instead of issuing an instant emotional response.

Self-aware account managers also rebound from disappointment and rejection quicker than those who disregard or are unaware of their feelings. This enables them to remain more consistently positive and motivated.


Self-regulation is the ability to modulate emotions to suit each situation for the best result, so you don’t display negative emotions during client interactions. In action, this means effectively controlling impulsive reactions and remaining calm under pressure.

Mastering self-regulation allows account managers to successfully navigate difficult or stressful situations without being distracted by the unexpected.

Social Skills

Account managers engage with many diverse client and internal personalities each day. Possessing strong social skills, such as communicating well, facilitates rapport building and relationship development over an extended period.

These skills allow account managers to effectively address concerns, proactively seek feedback, and guide progress toward goal attainment, creating client trust and loyalty.

Excellent social skills also help account managers be effective collaborators which is crucial to successfully creating customer value and outcomes.


Empathy is the ability to recognize other people’s emotions, see things from their perspectives, and imagine how the other person feels. This skill enables account managers to better understand the customer’s situation, needs, challenges, and concerns. This skill also enables account managers to better recognize and adjust for the customer’s preferred communication style of formal or casual.

Empathy allows account managers to practice active listening when engaging with the customer. They easily steer conversations in the right direction to gain additional context when conducting voice of customer interviews. This, in turn, facilitates the identification of meaningful customer outcomes to address and deliver customer value, boosting retention.


Motivation is the driving force that helps account managers continue pushing to complete more tasks and achieve more goals. These professionals tend to be more productive. They also strive to be their best and continually seek ways to improve their skills.

Motivated account managers listen to coaching input and put feedback into action. They are also adept at identifying cross-sell and upsell opportunities within their book of business and follow through on client promises.

Developing Emotional Intelligence Attributes

Although some people are more naturally emotionally intelligent, everyone has room to improve their EQ. Here are a few ways to become more emotionally intelligent.

Increase Your Self-Awareness

Learn to recognize your emotions and how they affect your behavior and those around you. Take time each week to reflect on your observations. Then practice responding instead of reacting.

It’s easy to respond emotionally during highly charged conversations without considering the ramifications. To boost your EQ, focus on remaining calm in stressful situations.

Instead of responding to the angry words of any upset customer, delay your response long enough to take a breath and carefully consider the ramifications before reacting to what was said. The outcome of the conversation will be more positive as a result.

Cultivate Self-Regulation Techniques

As you become more self-aware, you should learn to manage your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions too.

For instance, incorporate stress management strategies into your routine such as meditation, taking frequent breaks, or breathing exercises. This will enable you to remain calm and focused when navigating high-pressure situations to successfully achieve problem resolution.

Time management methods such as prioritizing tasks, completing projects ahead of schedule, and overcoming procrastination also help reduce stress while giving you a sense of control. A great way to do this is by creating a key account management success strategy.

Finally, you can develop adaptability by embracing situations instead of resisting them. This helps to tackle feelings of discomfort during periods of rapid change.

Practice Active Listening

When engaging with a customer it’s important to go beyond hearing the spoken words by discerning the deeper meaning through active listening.

This is accomplished by understanding what is being said before responding and observing the nonverbal cues accompanying the conversation.

Then summarize what you heard to confirm understanding and proceed with follow-up questions that provide additional details and clarity to what the customer is conveying.

Leverage Emotional Intelligence to Increase KAM Success

Emotional intelligence has been shown to improve customer experience, customer loyalty, and customer advocacy. Key account managers who possess the five characteristics of a high EQ are sure to experience greater success than those who don’t.

Observe your team to assess how emotionally intelligent they are and help them develop their skills to better recognize, understand, and skillfully manage emotions while practicing empathy.

They’ll be better equipped to understand their clients, more effectively navigate stressful situations, improve their productivity and focus, drive more customer value, and increase retention, loyalty, and advocacy.

Help your team build their skills. Register for KAMGenius.

Then schedule time with a team member to see how Kapta can reduce your team’s stress.

Senior Engagement Manager at Kapta
Jennifer is a Senior Engagement Manager at Kapta