Career Development

Account Executive Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Account executives are in the business of selling. As an account executive, you’re responsible for finding new customers and closing deals. However, the job is much more complex than that.

Account executives are in the business of selling. As an account executive, you’re responsible for finding new customers and closing deals. However, the job is much more complex than that.

Account executives are experts in their fields. In most cases, they’re selling a product or service that is related to their industry of choice. They’re tasked with understanding their client’s needs and selling them on a product or service that meets those needs. This requires a broad knowledge of both the client’s business and their industry—including competitive analysis and market trends—as well as a strong understanding of the account executive’s own product or service offerings.

Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be an account executive and what it takes to become one yourself.

Account Executive Job Duties

Account executives are responsible for the following:

  • Present an organization’s products or services to potential clients in a manner that is persuasive and effective
  • Conduct market research to determine a product’s potential in a certain market
  • Develop new business opportunities by identifying prospective clients and developing relationships with them
  • Establish long-term relationships with clients to ensure repeat business from existing clients and acquisition of new clients from referrals of previous clients
  • Secure contracts for the sale of products, services, or advertising space
  • Following up with existing clients, such as providing support after a sale has been completed to ensure satisfaction with the product or service
  • Maintaining a list of contacts within an assigned territory who can refer potential customers to the company

Account Executive Salary & Outlook

The median annual wage for account executives is $65,268. The highest earners make over $110,000 per year. Those earning higher wages tend to work for finance and insurance companies.

The employment of account executives is expected to decline over the next decade. This is due to an increasing number of companies that are using technology to automate their processes and handle customer inquiries.

Account Executive Job Requirements

The requirements for account executives are as follows:

Education: Many employers prefer that their account executives have a bachelor’s degree in business or marketing. Some employers may also require that candidates have taken courses in accounting, sales, and computer software.

Training: An account executive may receive on-the-job training once they begin working. This training begins with basic sales skills and leads to advanced training about the client’s products and services. This provides the new employee with the knowledge they need to make sales and provide customers with excellent service.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications are not required for this position, but some organizations may require employees to obtain them anyway. Some certifications that an account executive could obtain include Certified Professional Marketer (CPM), Certified Professional Sales Person (CPSP) and Certified Sales Executive (CSE).

Account Executive Skills

An account executive must possess the following skills:

Self-motivation: Account executives are responsible for setting their own schedules and meeting their own deadlines.

Organizational skills: Account executives must have excellent organizational skills to manage large amounts of paperwork and data.

Strong communication skills: A successful account executive must be able to communicate clearly with clients, supervisors, and colleagues.

Salesmanship: This is a sales position, so the ability to sell is crucial. In addition, account executives need to possess good listening skills and the ability to work well with others.

Problem-solving skills: Successful account executives must be able to solve problems quickly on their own without assistance from others. If you can’t think outside the box, you won’t last long in this job.

Analytical skills: Account executives need strong analytical skills because they must make critical decisions on their own regarding pricing, billing, and product positioning. They must also understand financial statements so they can determine if an organization is financially sound or not.

Account Executive Work Environment

Account executives usually work in an office with a large number of coworkers. They spend most of their time on the phone with clients and colleagues, discussing details about accounts. Most work a regular 9-to-5 schedule or a flexible schedule that changes daily. Many work late hours when they are working on a big sale or dealing with a crisis at a client’s company.

Many account executives have to travel frequently to meet with clients, prospects, and vendors face-to-face. When traveling, account executives usually stay in comfortable hotels, although they may have to drive long distances between meetings.

Account Executive Career Path

Getting Started

Entry-level account executives find it difficult to earn a living wage at first. Competition for a good territory is tough, and salespeople earn a base salary plus commission. They have to have a compelling personality, be willing to work long hours, and possess the ability to lead people into buying decisions that will benefit them in the long run. The job is stressful, but there are rewards.

Five Years On The Job

account executives who have been successful in their careers get promoted to assistant or regional manager, with raises commensurate with their increased responsibilities. Account executives with large territories may hire other account executives to help them out. Many complain about the long hours and stress associated with the job; others say they enjoy feeling so productive.

Ten Years On The Job

At ten years, an account executive has established a good reputation in the industry with clients, colleagues, competitors, the media, and industry analysts. He or she can choose to move into management or open his or her own firm. Most of these people are satisfied with their salaries.

Account Executive Trends

Here are three trends influencing how account executives work. Account executives will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Demand for Creative Storytelling

Storytelling is becoming more important for account executives as they are tasked with selling ideas and products to their clients.

While the key to good storytelling is finding an engaging plot that will keep customers interested, many businesses are now looking for additional components in addition to narrative elements—such as including graphics or charts to make their stories more memorable. 

More Global Business Opportunities

For account executives, international business has become increasingly important in recent years as businesses expand globally to reach new markets.

This has led to a growing demand for employees who can communicate effectively with foreign clients and potential customers.

In addition, the proliferation of new technology such as smartphones and social media means that account executives must also be able to demonstrate an understanding of how these technologies can be used to improve client relations across borders.

Big Data and Analytics

Big data and analytics are increasingly relevant to account executives who are charged with evaluating the success of advertising campaigns.

Data-driven methods can help determine which ads perform best on a case-by-case basis, as well as for individual demographics, allowing companies to maximize the return on their investment. 

How to Become an Account Executive

1. Planning Your Career

The sales industry is an extremely competitive one, especially among account executives. As such, it is important to consider the lifestyle and financial needs that come with this career path. If you decide to pursue a career as an account executive, you can expect long work hours and significant travel; as such, those who want to be successful in this field need to make sure they can manage their time well and set aside adequate time for sleep and relaxation.

2. Writing a Resume

The best resumes for account executives highlight their ability to meet deadlines, attention to detail, communication skills, and organizational skills. 

When describing past work history, it is useful to provide a brief description of the industry and focus on your achievements and positive results. You can discuss how you contributed to improving company performance or increased efficiency by providing examples such as increasing sales or reducing costs.

Be sure to include any relevant certifications or licenses that you possess, as well as extra responsibilities that you may have taken on. You can also emphasize transferable skills that are useful for this position, like negotiating deals with clients and closing sales quickly.

3. Applying for Jobs

Applying for an account executive position requires that you do your research. Once you know which companies you’re interested in, learn about their sales culture and customer base. During the application process, you’ll want to use language that makes it clear you’re knowledgeable about the industry. Your research will also help you send out targeted resumes to specific employers that fit what you’re looking for.

It’s also a good idea to maintain a strong LinkedIn profile that displays your ability to build connections, and that reflects positive characteristics of an account executive.

4. Ace the Interview

If you are interviewing for a job as an account executive, the interviewer will want to know how well you will be able to work with clients, whether you have experience in the industry, what value you bring to the organization, and your personality type.

Since account executives interact closely with clients on a daily basis, it’s important that you show that you are well-versed in the client’s industry. The more familiar you are with a prospective firm’s goals, challenges, and competitors, the stronger your value proposition will be. Research key industry trends and news related to your firm’s product or service offerings. Even if it’s not your area of expertise, being able to converse confidently about it via a news article or case study can show off your knowledge on a topic that is relevant to prospects.

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