Learn About Being an Account Executive
Updated June 24, 2022
What does an account executive do?
Account executives work in the sales, marketing and advertising industries, where they manage client acquisition and development. These sales experts are masters of customer service, market research and business strategy. As an account executive, you can expect to handle the following tasks:
Follow up with prospective customer
After sales representatives vet prospective leads, you communicate with prospects by email, via phone or video chat or during an in-person presentation or meeting.
Develop solutions for client problems
To encourage sales, you may develop customized packages to solve client issues. You may need to use your business acumen to create solutions for clients while still meeting revenue and development goals.
You will prioritize building long-term relationships with clients. To create connections that help you meet your sales goals, you may need to communicate with clients regularly and strive to exceed their expectations.
Set goals and create action plans
You may set goals and make action plans with the help of your supervisor, establish sales quotas and collaborate on effective sales strategies.
Manage sales teams
You may also manage multiple sales representatives. In this role, you might meet with team members to monitor progress or provide training to improve performance.
Most account executives are full-time employees. Salaries for account executives depend on education level, work experience and the company’s industry and location. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.
Common salary in the U.S.: $67,443 per year
Salaries range from $14,000 to $179,000 per year.
Account executive requirements
Many account executive job listings require these skills and educational experience:
Most account executive jobs require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree that offers comprehensive coursework in marketing, sales, business and communications. Some of the most common majors for aspiring account executives include:
Earning a Bachelor of Business Administration can provide a strong foundation in business while helping you understand how you can apply these principles in the real world. Many universities offer this degree with specialties in management or marketing so you can get even more relevant experience as you work toward a sales career.
If you opt to get a Bachelor of Arts in communications, you will learn how to convey messages in clear and ethical ways. Most communications degrees focus on media, marketing and advertising, helping you become an expert in everything from public relations to technical writing.
When you get a Bachelor of Science in marketing, you learn about consumer behavior, selling techniques, business fundamentals and market research. As you complete your degree, you can expect to master concepts ranging from advertising and brand management to copywriting and business development.
Account executives often learn from experience rather than completing training programs. As you plan your career, consider learning the fundamentals of sales and customer service from one of these entry-level positions:
Market research analyst
These analysts assess market conditions, forecast sales trends and monitor the outcome of marketing programs. They primarily work with data, using software to create models and display numbers on graphs and charts that convey their recommendations.
These professionals seek out new prospective customers, design product packages for clients and provide sales presentations for clients. They also work closely with account executives to promote customer loyalty.
Customer support representative
These specialists answer questions, deliver information about products and services and address customer complaints. They use their communication and interpersonal skills to satisfy customers and contribute to the organization’s business development goals.
To improve their skills and stand out from the competition, some account executives opt to pursue the Certified Professional Sales Leader credential from the National Association of Sales Professionals. To earn this credential, account executives must complete a training session and pass a certification exam.
These are the most essential skills that account executives use to successfully build relationships with clients and customers.
Data organization skills: Account executives typically need to know how to use word-processing software to write documents and contracts. They also need to know the basics of spreadsheet programs to track goals and quotas.
Presentation skills: To share concepts and results with clients and stakeholders, account executives need strong public speaking skills. In this role, you may also need to know how to design slideshow presentations.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software: When you manage multiple customers at various stages of the sales journey, CRM software can track everything from upcoming tasks to prior points of contact.
Communication skills: Account executives communicate via email, over the phone and in person. To improve your communication skills, practice listening carefully, conveying your key points clearly and asking for feedback to continue bettering your abilities.
Interpersonal skills: As an account executive, you are responsible for building relationships and meeting client needs. To work on your interpersonal skills, look for things you have in common with others, practice active listening and strive to see your client’s perspective.
Sales skills: To excel in this role, you should be able to sell products and services to clients. You can improve your sales skills by studying why customers buy, framing your sales messages effectively and creating connections with clients.
Account executive work environment
Account executives generally work full-time, and they may work overtime during busy seasons or when major deadlines approach. They typically work in offices, but they may travel to conduct meetings or work with clients in other cities.
How to become an account executive
To become an account executive, follow these steps:
1. Earn a bachelor’s degree.
Account executives typically need to have an undergraduate degree in business administration, communications, marketing or a related field. Some account executives also earn a master’s degree in business or marketing, especially if they intend to pursue executive roles later in their careers. However, you typically only need only a bachelor’s degree for this career.
2. Work in sales.
Most account executives have prior experience in sales, which offers them the opportunity to get on-the-job training and master persuasion techniques. Consider looking for a job as a sales representative, which allows you to work under an account executive and learn about this advanced position firsthand. Since most account executive roles require at least three years of experience in sales, plan to work for at least that long in an entry-level sales role before seeking a promotion.
3. Develop key skills.
To excel as an account executive, you will likely need advanced sales and customer service skills as well as strong decision-making abilities and business acumen. To cultivate these skills, try setting specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-sensitive (SMART) goals that encourage you to expand your knowledge and develop essential qualities for your sales career.
4. Get management experience.
Account executives typically oversee teams of sales representatives, which is why management experience can enhance your qualifications for the job. To get management experience, try signing up for a leadership training session at work, registering for an independent management seminar or asking your supervisor for more responsibilities at work.
Account executive job description example
AllTech is seeking a highly creative and motivated account executive to oversee a branch of our marketing and advertising business. The successful candidate will have at least seven years of experience in marketing, advertising or promotions and should understand how to build strong relationships. If you are an advertising or marketing manager who is dedicated to growing accounts, we want to hear from you.
Sales manager: This management position often represents the next stage for account executives, many of whom work for promotions to this role. As a sales manager, you can expect to oversee an organization’s sales department, develop sales strategies that support the business model and oversee budgets and quotas.
Marketing manager: In this role, you typically identify markets for the organization, oversee product development and guide creative campaigns. As a marketing manager, you ultimately handle responsibilities similar to those of a sales manager in a department that works closely with sales.
Chief revenue officer: This executive role often serves as the ultimate career goal for sales professionals. As a CRO, you take responsibility for growing a company, maximizing profit and coordinating the activities of departments like sales, marketing, pricing and customer support.
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