what is an account executive?

You support existing clients and build lasting customer relationships as an account executive.  While an account executive is a sales role, your duties go beyond the traditional responsibilities of selling products or services. You assist with acquiring new clients and maintaining relationships with existing customers. The responsibilities of an account executive usually depend on the employer. In some companies, your role involves building relationships with new customers. However, in other organisations, account executives only handle existing client accounts. Your job is to manage, develop and grow customers' accounts.

where do account executives work?

Account executives work in companies that rely on marketing and sales to generate revenue. Hence, most account executives work in retail stores and advertising agencies. Aside from managing consumer goods sales, you can also work in telecommunications, IT, real estate, financial services or the hospitality industry.

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average account executive salary

The remuneration packages of account executives differ depending on the industry and organisation. Some employers pay hourly rates or monthly salaries without commissions, while other companies pay commissions for achieving specific sales quotas.

In New Zealand, the average salary of an account executive is $70,000 per year. Entry-level jobs attract a remuneration of $60,000 annually, while experienced workers earn $80,0000 per year. The variations in earnings are due to experience, qualification and location.

what factors affect the salary of an account executive?

As an account executive, your remuneration package depends on your qualifications and experience. Your earning prospects are improved when you have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. Your expertise also influences your earnings. For instance, your skillset attracts a higher remuneration with over five years of sales experience. At entry-level positions, your salary is low due to the limited experience you have in the role.

Sometimes, the product or services offered by the organisation you work for affect your earnings. For instance, selling financial services or technology products is lucrative and attracts higher remuneration. Working in metro areas also boosts your remuneration due to the high demand for account executives.

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types of account executives

Account executives' roles vary depending on the industry they work in and the products they sell. Some include:

  • advertising account executive: your job is coordinating advertising campaigns and encouraging customers to buy particular products. You manage clients by briefing them on campaign details and negotiating any modifications. You also assist clients with other marketing strategies.
  • enterprise account executive: your job involves managing key accounts for your company. You meet with the client to discuss contractual terms and costs. You also identify upselling and cross-selling opportunities to increase sales.

working as an account executive

Working as an account executive prepares you for a lucrative career in sales and managerial roles. Let's explore the specific duties and career outlook of the role.

group of employees having a break
group of employees having a break

education and skills

Working as an account executive doesn't require formal education. You can land a job with a high school certificate. However, most employers require a background in sales or business administration. Some of the paths into the role include:

  • education: pursue a bachelor's degree in accounting, sales, marketing or business administration to develop an underlying knowledge of fundamentals in sales. A bachelor's degree proves your competence and improves your employment prospects. If you don't qualify for a degree, you can take relevant short courses in accounting, business or marketing.
  • work experience: you need practical experience in sales and management to become an account executive. Consider working in entry-level positions as a presales consultant or sales representative. Attending workshops and on-the-job training also helps you develop essential skills for the role.

account executive skills and competencies

Some of the fundamental skills and characteristics of account executives include:

  • empathy: as an account executive, you should put yourself in the prospect's shoes to build good relationships. Empathy helps you understand your clients better and fosters strong relationships.
  • negotiation skills: negotiating sales terms with clients requires exceptional negotiation skills to help you identify objections and find solutions for customers' concerns. You also ensure your client gets what they want while still landing the best deal for your company. Negotiation skills are also useful when renegotiating or adjusting contracts with long-term clients.
  • communication skills: as an account executive, what you say and communicate seals the deal. Hence, talking and writing well is paramount since you communicate with prospective clients through phone calls and emails. Communication skills help you adapt your tone and pitch to each customer.
  • problem-solving skills: you should be a top-notch problem solver, as you spend most days convincing clients, and sometimes they change their minds. Problem-solving skills help you solve issues that arise after signing a contract. Thinking on your feet is valuable for keeping clients happy and satisfied.
  • organisation skills: as an account executive, your average work day is intense and involves diverse activities. With organisational skills, you can plan your workload and prioritise important tasks.

FAQs about working as an account executive

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of an account executive.

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