What Do Account Executives Do?
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Bridging the Waters Between Company and Clients
The company is one entity, and each major client another. Account executives bridge the gaps between them, figuring out clients' needs and working with the company to find solutions they can create and sell to meet those needs. A working mother should love the substantial salary, and can bring her highly developed organizational abilities and people skills to this position.
What Is an Account Executive?
Some people object to the word "liaise" being used as a verb, but account executives aren't likely to object. Those employed as account executives are liaisons between the company its major accounts (that is, clients) and liaising is one of the things they do best.
The exact duties of an account executive vary, depending on the industry and job description, but all have one foot in the sales department. They are in charge of seeking out new clients as well as taking good care of existing clients. Other responsibilities that span the different industries are:
- Researching each client's needs
- Talking through projects and goals with each client
- Coordinating with salespeople to work out pitches for new clients
- Targeting projects, and developing timelines for delivery and completion
- Using the success or failure of particular pitches to improve future campaigns
- Helping with product development and marketing opportunities
- Presenting quarterly and annual reviews on performance and projects to both clients and management
- Planning ahead for the challenges a client's business will face and developing plans to mitigate them.
The duties of an account executive are shaped by the company and industry involved. You'll find insurance account executives, advertising account executives, marketing account executives, information technology account executives and fashion agency account executives. Each account executive researches client needs and works to see them receive the right products or services.
If you want to become an account executives, don't consider dropping out of college. You'll generally need to hold a bachelor's degree in a field like business administration, advertising, journalism or marketing. Consider taking classes in these fields as well as sales, consumer behavior, communications and visual arts.
Some companies look for candidates with master's degrees in business—although experience may be preferred to a higher degree. Those aiming for advertising, promotions or marketing should take classes in consumer behavior, market research, communication methods, research, sales and visual arts. If you know the industry you wish to work in, take classes in that as well.
For example, if you are interested in being a fashion agency account executive, take classes in fashion and design to understand the field. If you want to work as an IT account executive, a background in computer technology is important. Likewise, insurance account executives need to know about the insurance field and its regulation, and marketing account executives must gain information and experience in marketing.
Account executives with associate degrees earn a median of $66,500 to $71,400. Those with bachelor's degrees earn about $1,000 more per year, while those with master's and above earn $2,000 more.
Most industries have account executive positions. These include aerospace and defense; biotechnology; business services; chemicals; construction; education; government; nonprofits; energy and utilities; financial services; healthcare; hospitality and leisure; insurance; internet; media; manufacturing; pharmaceuticals; retail and wholesale; software and networking; telecommunications; transportation.
Beginning account executive salaries start at around $33,000. However, with a few years of experience, you can earn twice that much. In fact, the national median salary for account executives is around $64,000 annually. The top 10 percent earn $113,950. Account executives can be paid in three ways: salary only, salary plus commission and commission only. The last is the most common form of compensation, especially with the more experienced executives.
Lawyer, writer and world traveler, Teo Spengler splits her home time between San Francisco and France. She has specialized in travel, legal and business writing for the past 15 years, including articles providing tips for mothers returning to the work world or making other big changes in their lives. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, and numerous attorney websites. She holds a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley, an M.A. in English and an M.F.A. in fiction.