What Is an Account Executive?

An account executive is a senior sales executive who manages customers’ accounts to ensure they buy again and that their value to the business continues to grow. He or she takes over after the sales development rep has closed a sale but may also be tasked with bringing in new customers..

The theory behind hiring an account executive is that it is less costly and easier to retain old customers and get repeat sales out of them than looking for new customers all the time. 

Generally, as an account executive, it is your job to ensure that existing customers are retained. The position makes a lot of sense in B2B sales where one customer can bring in lots of revenue over a long period of time.

The success of your marketing campaigns depends heavily on your organizational skills as an account executive. Other members of your team rely on you to manage the company’s relationships with key clients and ensure that sales targets are met.

Although different companies can have different expectations for the role, this is the typical account executive job description. 

An account executive must communicate well and know how to build relationships

It is your responsibility as an account executive to ensure that existing customers are satisfied with you as their supplier or service provider so competitors can’t easily turn their heads

The best account executives know their clients so well they can even sense new opportunities for them, knowing that the client’s success will eventually translate into their own. They are dedicated to their clients and, as a result, are able to form lasting relationships. 

Account directors often delegate campaign plans to their account executives, who are expected to follow those plans and create a pleasant working environment while following through with the plan.

Once an AE has built a reputation for being trustworthy and perfected their organizational abilities, they can usually advance to the position of account director, or account manager depending on the organization’s structure.

What Exactly Does an Account Executive Do?

An account executive’s roles and responsibilities can differ between companies and often depend on the industry you are in. 

For example, an account executive for a  SaaS company may have a slightly different set of responsibilities from one who works for a manufacturing company.

But no matter what industry you are in, there are tasks you should expect to perform when you get hired as an account executive. These include:

  • Meeting with clients and discussing their business requirements,
  • Pitching new leads to grow the client base,
  • Checking all work that has been submitted to clients for accuracy and quality,
  • Ensuring that all campaigns are running smoothly,
  • Keeping clients, stakeholders, and coworkers up to date on the status of a project,
  • Making sure that the project is financially viable,
  • Other tasks that will keep the campaign organized,
  • Offer creative, new ideas to the account management team to encourage clients and managers alike to think outside the box

So what qualities do you need to effectively perform the tasks above?

What Skills Do You Need to Be an Account Executive?

Every company looks for different types of skills and qualities in their, account executives. These depend on the company’s operating environment, the type of products they sell, and its unique advantages as a business. 

But as well as any other skills they may look for, your next employer as an account executive will have a minimal set of skills they will insist on. Among them will be these:

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills,
  • First-class organizational skills,
  • Proactive and creative in managing projects,
  • Experience in working as part of a team,
  • A keen eye for detail,
  • Strong understanding of budgets,
  • Full awareness of digital processes and techniques,
  • Ability to work under pressure while maintaining a cool head,
  • Personable, professional, and confident demeanor.

An account executive will be based in the office, but will also go out to meet with clients. So you should be able to manage to with minimum supervision and your time efficiently to succeed in this role.

What Qualifications Do You Need to Be an Account Executive?

You have a great foundation for a career in sales generally if you have a degree in business, marketing/advertising, public relations, or communications. But if you are will willing to work your way up to the position, a business administration degree can get you in the door as an account coordinator. 

A typical route though is to start off as a sales rep where you get field experience pitching new leads and closing sales. After a while dealing with clients on a daily basis, you can now advance to the position of account executive.

For some agency jobs, the best route to the account executive role is by starting with an internship. You can decide to work your way up at that agency or keep your options open and gain experience while building your contacts and then seek the role elsewhere.

Is Account Manager the Same as Account Executive?

It depends on the company and industry. The two titles can mean the same thing at some companies and different things at others. Generally, though, an account executive reports to the account manager, who typically has several account executives reporting to her.

Which of the two jobs is right for you?

If you’re the type of person who enjoys connecting with others and helping them reach their goals, then a position as an account executive or account manager may be right for you. 

Both jobs are vital to the success of any business. The roles involve communicating with clients over the phone, email, and through written proposals to help the business succeed. 

If you’re looking to meet people, attend events and make connections that will leave a lasting, positive impression, then a job as an account executive might be for you.

If you’d rather nurture relationships with clients over a more extended period and enjoy managing people, you might be better suited as an account manager.

Is an Account Executive a Good Job

You certainly can earn a good salary as an account executive. Add performance bonuses and commissions and you can expect a financially rewarding career. Will you be fulfilled?

Good salary aside, the best jobs are those that you enjoy and excel at. For some people, the enjoyment part is even more important that the potential income. That suggests that you, first and foremost, have to enjoy sales.

The number one pull for those who make a career out of the account executive job is the opportunity to contribute to the company’s success directly. 

Before a company can grow, it must sell more. As an account executive, you are responsible for generating new business opportunities and getting more sales out of your existing customers. 

So now that you are clear on what an account executive is and what they do on a daily basis, is it a job you can make a career out of?

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Editors Note:

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Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
This post was generated for LeadFuze and attributed to Justin McGill, the Founder of LeadFuze.