What is an Account Executive?
Account executives (AEs), or sometimes account managers, are members of a sales organization responsible for maintaining customer relationships. They are typically responsible for negotiating sales and finalizing deals after a sales prospect has been successfully identified and sold on the product by a sales development (SDR) or business development (BDR) rep. Sales reps will pass their prospects on to an account executive to manage the deal throughout the sales cycle and then officially close it. And then maintain a positive relationship with the customer to ensure retention and upsell.
What Exactly Does an Account Executive Do?
Day-to-day tasks will vary depending on the company an account executive works at, but overall, their role focuses on a few core responsibilities.
1. Sales Prospecting
It’s becoming increasingly popular for account executives to become full-cycle AEs, meaning they don’t have BDRs to rely on drumming up qualified sales leads. They have to do a lot of that sales prospecting themselves. Finding new leads, in addition to the day-to-day responsibilities, can be a challenge. To make it easier, AEs will lean on B2B prospecting tools. These could be software like LinkedIn Sales Navigator to discover and research new leads. Or, look to an automated protecting tool to build lists in their territories and send AI-generated emails and follow-ups.
2. Manage Existing Client Accounts
Account executives are responsible for helping their customers troubleshoot any issues they’re having with a product (and directing them to customer support as needed), ensuring subscriptions are renewed, and upselling if there are opportunities to do so. If a customer has questions, the account executive is often their first point of contact.
3. Ensure Customer Satisfaction
Account executives are expected to check in with customers regularly and ensure they’re happy, collect feedback, both (positive and negative), help alleviate any issues, and always make sure customers feel valued and receive the resources they need to be successful while utilizing your product.
4. Help Close Deals
Once a sales lead is ready to explore your company’s product further, they’ll often be handed off to an account executive to complete the transaction. There are templates online for conducting a successful account executive handoff to ensure a smooth transition. This is where negotiation skills and overall project management come in.
There are often many moving parts to closing a deal, and an account executive must ensure everything goes smoothly. There are examples online to help account executives utilize video for accessible introductions with new clients.
5. Help Increase Sales
Account executives are often tasked with researching new leads, keeping tabs on competitors, and funneling sales leads to sales reps. They are experts in market awareness and can utilize their creativity and data analysis to help create and capitalize on new business opportunities.
6. Effectively Manage the Sales Cycle
Once a prospective customer has entered the sales process, the AE’s job is to ensure the buying experience goes as smoothly as possible. That means bringing in the right people from the sales org when appropriate, i.e., technical sales or executive sponsorship, and keeping stakeholders and decision makers at the buying company in the loop. There are different ways account executives can do this effectively. One is using video messaging across the entire sales process. From mico demos to call-follow ups to proposal walkthroughs, video can get the rep’s face in front of the right people better than any other tactic in a virtual selling environment. Another way is to leverage tools like sales rooms to host video content, links to related resources, and documents so all stakeholders have easy access in one spot.
7. Collaborate and Develop New Sales Strategies
Since sales executives spend so much time talking to clients and conducting market research, they’re well-equipped to help develop new sales strategies. They know what pitches work when meeting with clients, what product features are popular, and what sets them apart. As a result, they often collaborate with the more significant sales and marketing teams to build new strategies.
Skills Needed to Be an Account Executive
- Background in sales.
- Excellent communication (written and verbal) and active listening.
- Experience with negotiation and closing sales.
- Ability to develop trust with customers and maintain positive work relationships.
- Ability to analyze data and metrics to achieve strategic goals and sales objectives.
- Effective problem solving.
- Excellent time management.
- Ability to work both independently and within a larger, collaborative team.