What Is an Account Executive? How to Become One, Salary, Skills.
An account executive is a sales professional whose primary role is to connect with prospective clients and convert them into new customers. Once a new customer has agreed to a contract, the account executive transitions them to an account manager to maintain the business relationship. Here’s what to know about an account executive’s salary, needed skills and how to become one.
What Is an Account Executive?
An account executive is a member of the sales team who locates prospective clients, builds relationships with them and converts them into customers. After making contact with a prospect, an account executive meets with them to discuss the needs of their business and determine how to tailor their products or services to meet those needs. Although account executives focus on prospects, they also negotiate new contracts with existing customers.
What Do Account Executives Do?
Account executives cultivate relationships with promising prospects to convert them into customers. In addition to closing deals with prospects, account executives may negotiate new contracts with existing customers when needed.
Account Executive Responsibilities
- Build relationships with prospective clients and convert them into customers.
- Collaborate with marketing team to develop advertising strategies.
- Negotiate contract terms with new and existing customers.
- Analyze market and industry trends to sharpen prospecting and sales strategies.
- Manage junior-level account executives.
Day-to-Day Responsibilities of an Account Executive
- Find prospects through networking events, sales intelligence tools, previous account lists and other means.
- Reach out to potential customers through cold calls, emails or other sales techniques.
- Meet with prospects to deliver sales pitches and discuss buying options.
- Meet with new and existing customers to discuss contract terms and answer any questions about the business.
- Inform sales team members of the latest industry trends.
- Check in with junior account executives to track their progress.
Account Executives Within a Company
Account executives operate underneath the sales umbrella and address customer acquisition. Companies may choose to distinguish between junior and senior account executives, with the latter group monitoring the performance of the former. Account executives often pass customers to account managers after they’ve closed a deal. However, they may still interact with existing customers in cases where contracts are set to expire and new ones need to be negotiated. Each company may take a different approach when drawing the line between account executives and account managers.
Importance of Account Executives
Account executives play a crucial role in developing relationships with prospects and converting them into customers. Without these efforts, companies would struggle to grow their business. In addition, account executives negotiate deals with both new and current customers, allowing companies to retain customers in the long run.
What Skills Are Needed to Be an Account Executive?
Qualifications to Be an Account Executive
- Knowledge of sales and prospecting strategies.
- Proven success in negotiating deals with prospects and customers.
- Experience managing various accounts or customers.
- Ability to glean sales insights from market and industry trends.
- Familiarity with sales intelligence tools and software.
Account Executive Prerequisites
- Bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, communications or a related field.
- Two to three years of work experience related to sales.
- Master’s degree in business or marketing ideal for more career opportunities.
- Sales certifications enhance one’s credentials.
Account Executive Hard Skills
- Expertise in sales and prospecting strategies.
- Ability to pinpoint prospects who fit company’s ideal customer profile.
- Thorough understanding of company’s products and services.
- Business and financial savvy.
- Industry research and analysis skills.
- Knowledgeable in latest sales intelligence tools.
Account Executive Soft Skills
- Strong persuasion and negotiation skills.
- Analytical thinking skills.
- Time and project management skills.
- Empathy and active listening skills.
- Relationship-building skills.
- Ability to take rejection in stride.
Tools and Programs Account Executives Use
- Sales intelligence tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
- Scheduling software like Arrangr and Acuity Scheduling.
- Sales Customer Relationship Management systems like Salesforce and Zoho CRM.
- Data management tools like Airtable, ZoomInfo and Excel.
How to Become an Account Executive
Account Executive Education and Experience
Account executives often hold a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, accounting or a related field. They also typically have two to three years of relevant experience gained through entry-level positions like sales representative, customer support representative and marketing coordinator. While it’s not required, a master’s degree in business or marketing puts an account executive in a better position to pursue higher-level roles.
Account Executive Certificates and Courses
- Sales training programs and courses to strengthen sales knowledge.
- Sales leadership certifications to boost credentials.
- SPIN selling courses and specialized courses to refine the details of your sales and prospecting processes.
- Sales executive certification for future career aspirations.
Account Executive Career Path
Account executives often begin their careers in entry-level roles like inside sales representative, marketing assistant and customer success representative. Professionals who excel in the AE role can move up from junior account executive to a more senior account executive position. Those with more education and certifications may also pursue executive roles like chief operations officer and VP of business development. However, reaching this level may take up to a decade of management experience.
Account Executive Salary and Job Outlook
Aspiring account executives will benefit from growth in the sales manager field as a whole. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of sales managers is expected to increase by 5 percent between 2021 and 2031.
The full compensation package for an account executive depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to the candidate’s experience and geographic location. See below for detailed information on the average account executive salary.