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What is an account executive? Job duties and required skills

At a glance

  • An account executive is a professional who establishes and nurtures client relationships to maintain and drive sales within an organization.
  • Important skills for this role include strong communication and organization as well as knowledge of sales techniques.
  • To work in this job, a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing or communication is typically required.
  • To learn relevant skills such as leadership and communication, consider online business degrees at University of Phoenix, which are both flexible and skills aligned!

What is an account executive?

Companies across all industries rely on skilled professionals known as account executives to manage and nurture their client relationships, ensure customer satisfaction and drive sales. This role is vital to business administration and business growth.

Here, we delve into the types of job duties account executives may have depending on the sector they work in, as well as skills they need to succeed. 

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Account executive job description and duties

Account executives are found in various industries, including technology, retail, healthcare and more. No matter which industry an account executive works in, however, all professionals in this sphere share the following key duties and responsibilities:

●      Building relationships with leads and nurturing relationships

●      Negotiating, proposing and closing client deals

●      Handling account management for each client

●      Reporting for client accounts

●      Guiding clients through new processes and issues

●      Staying up to date on industry trends

These may fluctuate depending on the industry and sector in which the account executive works.

Business development

One of the primary responsibilities of an account executive is to contribute to the business development process. This involves identifying potential clients, prospecting, conducting thorough research on target markets and effectively pitching products or services to potential customers. (It might even involve cold calling!) By successfully engaging with prospects, account executives play a crucial role in expanding the client base and generating new business opportunities.

Client relationships, sales management and client retention

Building and maintaining strong client relationships is a fundamental aspect of an account executive’s role. By understanding client goals, challenges and preferences, account executives act as trusted advisors, providing tailored solutions to meet their needs and enhance business deals.

They are responsible for managing the sales process — from initial contact to closing deals — and play a vital role in client retention by ensuring after-sales satisfaction and identifying opportunities for upselling or cross-selling.

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Skills needed to be an account executive

To excel in this career, certain skills and business qualifications are essential, whether the job description is for an entry-level role or a manager position.

Sales

Account executives need strong sales skills to effectively communicate the value of products or services and help persuade potential clients to make a purchase. Skills such as problem-solving, customer service and negotiation are critical in navigating complex sales situations and building long-term relationships with clients.

Communication

Oral and written communication skills are necessary in almost any position, including sales executive roles. Account executives need to enact effective communication to understand client needs, convey information clearly and build rapport. Much of this job’s duties rely on communicating with clients, potential leads, customers and stakeholders.

A crucial aspect of communication involves active listening. Active listening helps account executives to establish trust, understand client expectations and issues, and deliver tailored solutions. Communication skills are more complex than they may appear, but online management communication courses are available that can help you hone these skills.

Organizational

Professionals in this career often manage multiple client accounts simultaneously, requiring exceptional organization and time management. They must be adept at prioritizing tasks, managing their time effectively and switching between important projects to ensure that all client needs are met promptly and efficiently.

Account executive career path

In terms of education and experience, account executives typically require a combination of relevant qualifications and practical knowledge. Many account execs have a strong business background.

Education

For this position, a minimum requirement of a bachelor’s degree is typical. A degree in business, marketing, communication or a related field is usually ideal. Some employers may be searching for applicants who also have a master’s degree in a related field. Both degrees can help you gain skills and knowledge required to apply for an account executive position.

Experience

While educational qualifications are essential, relevant experience is also highly valued by hiring managers looking to bring on seasoned professionals. Prior sales experience, particularly in a client-facing role, can provide a solid foundation for aspiring account execs. Additionally, experience in management, marketing or customer service roles can contribute to a candidate’s skill set and potentially enhance their effectiveness once in the role.

Salary

An account executive salary may vary depending on the company and state in which you intend to work. If you’re curious about an average salary for a specific company, you can look at account executive jobs on its website and see if a salary range or base salary is included in the job description.

Business programs at University of Phoenix

Account executives rely on a number of skills in their career. Some of these, like communication, management, operations and leadership, are taught in the Bachelor of Science in Business degree program at University of Phoenix.

While the University cannot guarantee the job outcome of an account executive, it can teach necessary skills for this role, including:

  • How to leverage decision-making skills to address  needs
  • How to integrate business concepts and principles to advance organizational goals
  • How to analyze interrelationships among distinct functional areas of an organization
  • How to analyze logistics involved in global business operations

Learn more about business degrees at University of Phoenix and how they can help you reach your educational goals!

Michael Feder

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Feder is a content marketing specialist at University of Phoenix, where he researches and writes on a variety of topics, ranging from healthcare to IT. He is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars program and a New Jersey native!

 

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