What does an Account Executive do?
Not to be confused with financial accounts, Account Executives support a company by developing and maintaining relationships with their clients. 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're organised, have great people skills, and a business brain, this could be a really rewarding career option.
All about the clients
The day-to-day responsibilities of an Account Executive vary. Ensuring existing clients are satisfied with the service they're being provided 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 a significant amount of 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.
The number of accounts you're likely to be responsible for is typically based on your experience, as your client count will grow as your expertise and confidence do. The profile level of the clients will also have an impact on the number of accounts you'll 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'll gain confidence and the ability to juggle different clients efficiently.
Bringing in new business
Seeking new business is another crucial part of the job role. This will most likely entail a lot of networking events and outreach on email, LinkedIn, and other platforms, so being outgoing is a definite plus. If you enjoy having a full social calendar, Account Executives will often be invited to a number of client-hosted events once they've created a strong connection, which can be another useful way to gain more business contacts.
What skills do you need?
There are often no specific requirements for an Account Executive role as it utilises skills that are difficult to formally teach. A solid university degree is usually enough to show that you have the drive and perseverance to thrive. If you're interested in a specific industry, it can help to have an educational background in that area, e.g. a degree in Media and Advertising, however, this isn't essential.
That being said, there are a few discernible personality traits that are preferred. Being personable, proactive, and approachable all come in handy when networking and building connections, 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 to understand and help resolve a client's (and potential clients') pain points.
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 workload and managing expectations are both skills worth building on if you're seeking this type of role.
What employers want
When searching for an Account Executive, employers often look for candidates that are great relationship builders, commercially minded, and interested in how a business is built. Because the role involves being proactive in seeking ways to encourage clients to repeatedly use the company's services, it requires someone who finds that side of developing a business interesting.
So make sure to share examples of when you have:
1. Provided excellent customer service
2. Achieved a mutual goal
3. Resolved a problem quickly and efficiently
4. Increased sales
In terms of salary expectations, there can be a bit of variation depending on the industry. Generally, an Account Executive just starting out can look forward to a starting salary between £20k and £25k. This can then increase to £26k to £50k for a Senior Account Executive or Manager, and then to £60k 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 for reaching targets. This is not guaranteed, however, and the amount is entirely up to the discretion of the employer.
An Account Executive position is a good opportunity for those focusing on career progression as it has a very clear line of promotion. Below an Executive you might have an Assistant or 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's worth noting that the opportunity is definitely there for those that are determined and shine in their role. Overall, if you're considering pursuing an Account Executive position, simply 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.
This blog was originally published in 2016 and has since been updated.