Account managers within IT companies are a common career change for IT engineers who may or may not be from the industry. However, even if you have no experience within the IT industry or account management, you can still find a job as an account manager and change your career path if you have knowledge or interest in the IT sector. In some cases, you can even expect a significant increase in annual salary as well.
In this article, we will explore the main duties of IT account managers and in 10 different areas within IT. We will also cover what types of IT companies offer these opportunities and have included detailed career change tips for those aiming to develop their career as an account manager in IT with no experience.
What does an account manager do?
An account manager (sometimes referred to as account executives or account representatives) is an individual responsible for overseeing the relationship between a business and its customers. Account managers may be assigned by accounts, department, district or region.
The main responsibilities of account managers include (but not limited to):
- Delivering the best possible customer service with a view to grow and support long-term relationships.
- Ensuring deliverables are received in an accurate and timely way, while preserving the customer relationship.
- Helping customers understand changes within the company and the market, or a change in access to products and services.
- Working with business development and sales teams to hand customers over smoothly to each other, so that customer experience is optimal.
- Giving presentations and reporting on progress to both customers and internal teams.
- Problem-solving for customers in a way that ensures the relationship remains positive.
- Acting as the key liaison between customers and internal teams.
The duties of account managers vary slightly depending on the products they deal with as well as if it is B2B or B2C. Below are ten typical areas within IT and the main responsibilities of respective B2B account managers. You can also find out who are the major IT companies in these ten different fields.
10 main areas of IT and major IT companies in Japan
Software companies sell packages of software, games, and operating systems. The products are packaged so that they are easier to sell, and the level of sales and account management difficulty is relatively low as there are a lot of route sales and direct response sales. However, some IT companies (especially small players) do find it hard with tele-appointments while larger players usually have a partner with sales agencies. and Salesforce are some representative companies that mainly deal with software.
Hardware companies deal with hardware such as telecommunications equipment, PCs, and servers. Many sales and account manager jobs involve route sales and agency sales, in which salespeople go around on routes to electronics retailers and other wider retailers to sell the company's products. Many major hardware companies that are looking for account managers include Sony, Toshiba, NEC, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Apple and IBM.
3. SIer (consulting for system development)
This business undertakes the development work – from consulting to design, development, operation, and maintenance. As systems are developed from scratch, IT knowledge is essential, and it can be difficult work for those who are inexperienced. But there are also many incentives for successful account managers and a great sense of achievement. As there are many competitors, advanced account management skills are also required.
Representative SIer companies include Nomura Research Institute, NTT Data, Itochu Techno-Solution Corporation, Nittetsu Sumikin Solutions and many other major companies.
Examples of contract system development companies include Gopher Tech, isys-ware and Shin Nihon Denshi Corporation.
5. Cloud services (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, BaaS)
The need for cloud services has been increasing in recent years, and the role of account managers in cloud service companies include the introduction of cloud services such as SaaS (Software as a Service) to businesses, with the aim of solving their problems. Typical cloud service companies include GCP (Google Cloud Platform), AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Microsoft Azure.
6. AI (i.e. IoT and AI for web systems)
Account managers for companies within Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) have to propose products/solutions that involve AI and IoT, communicate with customers, sales and engineers, manage projects, and follow up once contracts have been signed, followed by supporting implementation. They propose the best solutions to solve customer issues, using their expertise in the company's products and services.
Examples of representatives who promote AI and IoT include Sharp, Skydesk, WHILL and Softbank.
Account managers in blockchain requires a basic knowledge of blockchain and preferably a few years of account management or community management experience in the cryptocurrency / blockchain related products.
8. Virtual reality (VR), Augmented reality (AR), and Mixed reality (MR)
This is another area that has high potential and holds one of the most promising career as an account manager. This is especially so as many companies are considering in introducing account managers to their business. But there are many jobs available not only from major players, but also from small, medium sized players and venture companies, making this a high-profile field with a promising future.
Account managers in this area is usually required to have 1-3 years of experience in selling and delivering projects in VR/AR/MR or prior experience in marketing technology (Martech) /media/digital/ IT SaaS/IT product sales experience. Representative VR/AR/MR companies include HIKKY, GREE (VR studio), and Kayac.
Consulting companies solve the problems of client companies through the implementation of systems. Their account managers require an overwhelming amount of information to solve problems through the power of IT but is also a good way to build up IT and managerial knowledge in the course of your work.
Examples of major IT companies involved in consulting include Deloitte Tohmatsu, IBM, PwC and Accenture, with well-known foreign companies dominating the market in Japan.
10. Web-based sales
Web-based sales companies work on the creation of websites and other relevant services such as SEO, content writing, web advertising, YouTube video advertising and web consultancy. There is a high demand for web-based sales in small and medium-sized enterprises and venture companies. Even if you have no experience in this field, you have the advantage of being able to pick up knowledge on your own. Do bear in mind that trends within this field, particularly in SEO, change frequently so you need to ensure you are kept up-to-date.
Examples of web-based sales companies include Dentsu, GMO, and IMJ.
Benefits of being an IT account manager
Some benefits of moving into an IT account manager role include:
- You can learn IT skills and knowledge from ground up.
- If you have experience in the industry, you can make use of the IT skills and knowledge you have already developed.
- You can acquire advanced account management skills in an industry where there are many competitor companies (making your job hunt or job switch much easier).
- In many cases, results are expressed in figures which are easy to track and be accountable for.
- Although IT account managers often find themselves caught between development engineers and client companies, they can often enjoy a great sense of achievement when they successfully deliver a product and solve a company's problems with their own proposals.
How to get IT account manager jobs in Japan [4 simple steps].
IT account manager jobs in Japan can be achievable even if you have no experience in the industry. Below are key points to keep in mind in order to change your career if you do not have any experience, in chronological order from application to interview stages.
1. Apply for positions in fields where you are likely to be hired even with no experience.
As mentioned above, there are various fields within the IT industry that you can apply for as some do not require experience whilst others require some form of IT knowledge.
Here are some areas where it is relatively to move into with no experience:
- VR, AR and MR
Hence, we recommend that you first consider applying for a job in the above fields.
2. Study basic IT knowledge before applying
IT technologies are constantly being updated, so those who have an interest in collecting IT information on a regular basis can expect to do well as an IT account manager. A positive attitude towards acquiring more knowledge is essential, especially if you have no experience.
The IT knowledge required for IT account managers can also be acquired through qualifications. Below are some of the qualifications and skills that can come in handy when moving into the role of an IT account manager.
Qualifications and skills that are advantageous for a career change to IT account manager jobs
Although there are no essential qualifications for a career change into account managers, below are a number of qualifications and skills that are useful to have.
- IT Passport: This gives you qualifications in basic knowledge of IT, business administration, management and finance, and are sometimes set as a requirement for IT sales / account manager job applications in Japan.
- Basic Information Technology Engineer: A national qualification issued by IPA (Information-technology Promotion Agency, Japan) based on the Act on the Promotion of Information Processing, which tests basic IT knowledge, logical thinking skills and management knowledge, etc. It is more difficult than IT Passport and have a pass rate of only 20-30%.
- Applied Information Technology Engineer: A higher level of qualification for experienced engineers, above the Basic Information Technology Engineer. The pass rate is also around 20%, but this qualification is highly regarded in civil service positions such as ministries and public offices and is a great tool for IT account managers if successfully obtained.
- System architect: This is an IPA certification test for senior-level programming and engineering positions, with the highest level of difficulty at level 4, requiring not only knowledge of the upstream development processes, but also skills in business and management.
- Sales skills examinations: These are operated with the aim of correctly measuring the skills required in sales positions and providing qualifications that are genuinely useful in the field and even other management roles such as account managers. It measures good interpersonal skills, communication skills and the ability to plan and take action to implement plans.
For IT account managers, obtaining an IT-related qualification is a great tool. You will also be able to utilise your sales-related qualifications in a variety of situations later in your career.
Important skills to have:
- Interviewing skills to elicit customer issues and needs
- Document preparation and presentation skills to communicate your company's products and services to customers in an attractive manner
- Communication skills to convey customer requirements to in-house sales teams
- Task management skills to appropriately manage deadlines for in-house sales teams
- Knowledge of marketing / business
- Interpersonal skills (e.g. communication skills etc.)
- Basic skills in Microsoft Office software such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint
3. Learning about the products handled and related industries and competitors
Account managers are required to learn and gain knowledge about the industry and company you’re working with (including their target audience). For example, if you are an account manager of a systems company, you may be involved in the industry in which the system is installed or used by. By gaining knowledge of the industry and target audience, you will be able to identify the issues faced by the client and make a proposal that will help them.
In addition, understanding competitors and their products will not only give you an idea of the position and strengths of the company you are applying for in the industry, but also show that you have done solid industry research by mentioning these strengths as one of your reasons for applying for the job.
4. Show that you have the necessary skills on your CV and in interviews
When applying to IT account manager jobs in Japan with no experience, it is important to highlight your strengths in your resume and your interview motivation. If you have previous account management experience, provide specific examples of the industries you have worked in and what you have dealt with. Be positive about your achievements and the experience and skills you can use in the company you are applying for. If you have no experience as an account manager, mention your strengths that would be useful in an account manager role, such as knowledge of the industry and products you will be working with, and communication skills that have enabled you to work effectively with clients and internal stakeholders.
How to write a Japanese resume 'Rirekisho'? (Template included)
In this article, we’ve explored the top tips to help you optimise your resume.
Salary of IT account managers in Japan
As mentioned above, IT companies are classified into at least 10 different, and each of them offer very different annual incomes. According to Glassdoor, the overall annual income of account managers in 2022 was 7 million yen.
Fortunately, foreign companies in Japan that partner with our Computer Futures team provide very high incentives and annual salary bands that are better than those seen in Glassdoor. The salary survey below provides an overview of annual salary rates in each area based on research we have conducted. It is free to download and we hope you find it useful.
IT Salary Survey 2022
Are you looking for account manager jobs in Japan?
Computer Futures have strong relationships with many different types of IT companies in Japan, ranging from start-ups, to some of the world's leading IT companies. If you are interested in developing your career as an account manager but have no experience in the IT industry and are concerned about changing jobs, please feel free to contact one of our consultants using the form below. From CV revision to pre-interview preparation, we can provide you with the support you need to succeed in your job search.
Computer Futures also have a wide range of IT account manager jobs, which you can view below. If you are interested in finding out more about our latest vacancies, do apply for them to hear back from our consultants or contact us with the form below for other confidential roles.