Accounts executives play a pivotal role in maintaining customer relationships and driving more revenue to your business.
However, many growing businesses make the mistake of combining this role with other sales executive and sales development representative (SDR) positions, which can negatively affect client retention and drive you to have a more unsustainable sales process. Therefore, it’s important to separate this role from other business growth positions.
But what is an account executive and how do they continue to drive business growth?
In this blog we’ll cover the following:
Account executives (also known as account managers) are responsible for establishing and nurturing client relationships, identifying their needs, and tailoring solutions to meet those needs. They serve as a bridge between the client and the company, working diligently to create value and drive mutual growth. Additionally, they collaborate with internal teams to deliver products or services that align with client objectives, while also strategizing to upsell and expand business opportunities.
Difference Between an Account Executive and a Sales Rep
While many companies choose to combine these two roles, they have some significant differences that are worth mentioning and considering as your business grows.
Account executives focus on managing existing client relationships, nurturing them, ensuring client satisfaction, and upselling a company’s additional product or service offerings. On the other hand, sales representatives primarily focus on converting new leads into sales. They pitch a company’s product or service to interested buyers and aim to close deals through a targeted sales presentation.
While both roles require strong selling skills, account executives excel in customer account management, while sales representatives are the closers. After sales reps secure a sale, they are then transferred to account executives so they can consistently nurture the new client relationship.
Difference Between an Account Executive and an SDR
As mentioned above, account executives focus on managing and expanding existing client accounts through upselling. However, SDRs specialize in lead generation. They proactively identify and qualify potential clients, initiating the sales cycle. SDRs typically focus on outbound prospecting, cold calling, and setting up initial meetings or demos, which are then transferred to sales executives for the close.
For more insight into the differences between an account executive and an SDR, read our blog here.
Account executives play a pivotal role in the realm of sales and business development. Their responsibilities are multifaceted and vital to the success of a company.
An account executive’s responsibilities include:
- Client Relationship Management: Account executives are tasked with building and nurturing strong relationships with existing clients. They act as the main point of contact and work closely to understand their clients’ needs, objectives, and challenges.
- Performing needs assessments: A key responsibility is delving into the specific needs of their clients. This involves conducting in-depth discussions, gathering feedback, and comprehending the client’s business goals.
- Creating tailored solutions to relieve pain points: Armed with a deep understanding of client needs, account executives craft customized solutions or strategies that align with the client’s needs. These solutions may involve investing in more of your company’s product or service offerings.
- Being a strategic partner: Account executives go beyond transactional interactions and aim to become strategic partners for their clients. They offer insights, industry knowledge, and advice to help clients achieve their goals.
- Upselling and cross-selling: Part of their role involves identifying opportunities to upsell or cross-sell additional products or services that could benefit the client.
- Ensuring customer satisfaction: Ensuring exceptional customer satisfaction is paramount. Account executives address any issues or concerns promptly and work to exceed client expectations.
- Encouraging collaboration: They collaborate closely with internal teams such as sales support, product development, and customer service to deliver on client commitments.
- Hitting sales targets: Account executives are often tasked with meeting sales targets, revenue goals, and quotas related to their assigned accounts.
- Bolstering long-term client loyalty: Building long-term client loyalty is a priority. This involves not only delivering value but also demonstrating a commitment to the client’s success.
- Documenting client engagement: Keeping meticulous records of client interactions, agreements, and relevant details is essential for tracking progress and ensuring effective account management.
- Sharing market insights: Account executives may also be responsible for staying updated on market trends, competitor activity, and industry developments that could impact their clients.
- Reporting and analysis: They often provide regular reports and analyses to clients, summarizing the impact of the solutions provided and making recommendations for improvement.
Not sure if you’re ready to hire a full-time account executive yet? Here are some things to consider:
You have a high client turnover
The average client retention rate across all industries is approximately 75%. However, it’s important to consider the industry you serve because it varies.
If you have a high turnover rate compared to competitors, it may be time to look into hiring an account executive. More often than not, customers leave providers due to poor customer service and satisfaction. With an account executive, you have a dedicated individual responsible for making sure clients are happy. And if they’re not, they can provide solutions to improve their satisfaction with your business.
Your sales reps are spread thin
Sales reps should be focused on what they do best—closing deals with qualified sales leads.
As we mentioned earlier, many small to medium-sized businesses make the mistake of putting sales reps in charge of every part of lead generation—from prospecting to client management. However, when they’re tasked with all these responsibilities, they don’t have the ability to craft targeted sales presentations to high-earning leads.
By implementing account executives in your everyday business functions, they can prioritize customer relationships while your sales reps focus on generating business.
You’re not hitting your sales goals
Struggling to hit your sales goals? This may be because sales reps are too focused on pitching potential buyers than upselling and cross-selling existing clients. When you hire an account executive for your everyday operations, they have more time to pitch other products or services to clients, resulting in more revenue generated for your business.
You have low conversion rates
To be an effective sales rep, they must present sales leads with a targeted presentation that fits their needs. This means taking their pain points, acknowledging them, and crafting a solution that meets the needs of their business. However, without account executives, sales reps don’t have the time to craft a high-converting sales pitch, resulting in lower conversion rates. If your conversion rates are lower than the industry standard, it may be time to hire an account executive.
You want to grow your clientele
Last but not least, if you want to grow your book of business, you must consider hiring account executives. Building and sustaining a sales pipeline full of qualified prospects and leads is no easy task, which means your sales development team must focus their attention on getting in front of decision-makers and piquing their interest enough to convert them into sales opportunities.
Additionally, the more your business grows, the less time sales reps have time to consistently build strong client relationships, especially when more customers get added into the mix. Therefore, account execs must be implemented into your customer relationship process to ensure they stay happy throughout your partnership.
Abstrakt provides businesses with a full team of SDRs to help fill pipelines and bring more qualified leads to their business. While your team focuses on pitching leads and keeping customers happy, we prioritize finding your next big opportunity. Learn more about our growth solution here.
Account executives should acquire a certain combination of skills, traits, and qualities that make them effective in managing client relationships and driving more revenue.
Here are some things to consider when hiring account executives:
Experience Working in a Client-Facing Role
Account executives should excel in building and maintaining client relationships. They should be able to foster trust, demonstrate empathy, and provide exceptional customer service. Additionally, more qualified candidates should have experience working one-on-one with customers.
How They Handle and Overcome Conflict
Conflict resolution plays a big role in customer relations. Not every customer will be happy with your products or services, so account executives must be able to know how to handle conflict and overcome it to benefit both the client and your business.
Strong Sales Skills
Strong sales skills are fundamental for being an account executive. Therefore, you must hire candidates who have a proven track record of meeting or exceeding sales targets, as well as the ability to close deals effectively.
Upselling and Cross-Selling Experience
If a candidate proves themselves to be successful in sales, they’re likely to be able to effectively upsell and cross-sell additional products or services to clients. This skill is essential for digging clients deeper into your business’s offerings, increasing the likelihood of long-term customer loyalty.
In relation to handling conflict, account executives must be creative problem solvers. They should be able to think outside the box to provide unique solutions to client challenges that benefit both the client and your business.
High Emotional Intelligence
Having strong emotional intelligence enables account executives to understand and respond to client emotions and concerns effectively. They should be able to read a client’s satisfaction based on the tone of their voice and body language. If something feels off with the client and they don’t seem completely satisfied, the account executive should consider their actions and ask questions to help uncover what they may be unhappy with.
Knowledge of Your Industry
While this skill isn’t an end-all-be-all for account executive candidates, knowledge of your industry and the products or services you sell with definitely a plus. This allows them to upsell better and more advanced product or service solutions that relieve their pain points.
Business growth can’t (and shouldn’t) be done by a single salesperson. It requires a team of lead generation and customer relationship experts to ensure clients aren’t only generated, but that they remain with your company indefinitely. When you add account executives to the mix, you have a greater opportunity to keep customers happy, retain loyalty, and increase the likelihood of them referring your company to other business owners.
Sales and account execs can’t run business growth on their own. Therefore, they need a team of highly skilled sales development experts to help set them up with high-quality sales opportunities. And that’s where we come in.
At Abstrakt Marketing Group, we acquire a team of sales development professionals to help growing businesses like yours spend more time selling and building relationships than finding your next sales opportunity. If you need help building a sustainable sales pipeline that generates predictable sales, contact the business growth experts at Abstrakt!