What does an Account Executive do?
Account Executives do not work on financial accounts! From recruitment, to PR, to advertising agencies; essentially any company that deals with clients and works in the B2B sector will require people to fill account executive positions. The work of an Account Executive can vary slightly depending on the company they work for, but across the board the main responsibilities will be more or less the same. If you are organised, have great people skills and a business brain, this could be a really rewarding career option.
What an Account Executive does
The actual day to day responsibilities of an Account Executive varies. Ensuring existing clients are satisfied with the service they are being provided with and fielding any enquiries is the primary aim. Client accounts are there to be maintained for repeat business, so account executives are expected to spend significant time nurturing the happiness of existing clients. This requires an ability to be the middle person who is comfortable going between internal creatives (for example at an advertising agency) and the client, to maintain a sustained level of clear communication between the two.
While the job role is usually specified as being classically 9 – 5, this is not necessarily accurate 100% of the time. You might be based in an office and be required to touch base throughout the day with your colleagues, but you may also be called upon to visit clients at their offices and head up meetings around the city.
Seeking new business is another crucial part the job role. Because an account executive is a fairly junior position and you won’t be expected to have a catalogue of contacts already in your phonebook, this will most likely entail a lot of networking events, so being outgoing is a definite plus. Do you enjoy having a full social calendar? Account executives will often be invited to a number of client-hosted events once they have created a strong connection, in order to gain further useful introductions. Putting yourself out there and being unafraid to connect with people on social media is another tried and tested way of building up a base of contacts to draw resources from at a later date. Adding those you meet on LinkedIn and being unafraid to Tweet at them will go a long way towards increasing your reach for future clients.
The amount of accounts that you are likely to be responsible for will vary. This can be dependent on your experience, as the number of accounts you are trusted with will grow as your confidence does. The profile level of the clients will also have an impact on the number of accounts you will be in charge of, as the higher value accounts will require more attention and therefore limit your capabilities with others. As you reach new heights in your career as an account executive you will gain confidence and the ability to juggle different clients efficiently.
Skills and education for an account executive role
There are often no specific requisites for an account executive role because it utilizes skills that are difficult to teach. A solid degree from a good university is usually enough to show you have the drive and intelligence to thrive. If you are interested in a specific industry, it can help to have an educational background in that area, for example a degree in media and advertising, however this is not necessarily essential.
There are a few discernible personality traits that are preferred. Being personable, proactive and likable all come in handy when networking and building contacts, while attentiveness and great customer service are ideal for maintaining those contacts. Emotional intelligence might be a trait that is difficult to quantify, but it is necessary for any role that primarily deals with people.
Once settled into the role of Account Executive, being able to multitask is essential. As the negotiator between internal and external parties you must be able to stay organised and on top of tasks. Prioritising your work load and managing expectations are both skills worth building on if you are seeking this type of role.
When search for an account executive employers often look for candidates that are commercially minded and interested in the way that a business is built. Because the foundation of the role involves being proactive about seeking ways of encouraging clients to repeatedly use their business, it requires someone who finds that side of developing a new company interesting.
An account executive position is a good opportunity for someone focussed on career progression, because it has a very clear line of promotion. Below an executive you might have an assistant or an intern, and above are managers, directors, and finally company chiefs. The speed of progression will depend on the candidate, and also the industry, but it is worth noting that the opportunity is definitely there for those that are willing to work hard and shine in the role.
In terms of salary expectations there can be a bit of variation depending on the industry. Generally, an account executive can look forward to a starting salary between £17k and £22k. This can then increase to £25k or £50k for a manager, and then up to £70k or even £100k + for a director. The time it takes to gain a significant salary increase can be a quick flare or a slow burn, but it does happen if you work hard and are focused on progressing. Alongside the basic salary it is not uncommon for account executives to receive some sort of commission in exchange for bringing in new clients. This is not guaranteed however, and the amount is entirely up to the discretion of the employer.
Overall, if you are considering pursuing an account executive role, then just brush up on your people skills and prepare for hard work in a dynamic role that will push you further than you might have expected.
Think you might make a great account executive? Check out the BrighterBox jobs page for exciting opportunities for graduates at startups.