Account executives serve as a direct link between a company and its clients. Some work in a sales capacity, securing new business and maintaining customer relationships, while others inherit an account after the initial sale has been made, providing ongoing support and serving as a primary point of contact. Because they are responsible for creating and sustaining long-term customer relationships, account executives are essential to an organization’s success. In today’s complex, constantly evolving marketplace, it takes a broad range of business skills to engage customers and retain their loyalty. Enrolling in a bachelor’s degree in business administration program with a specialization in management is a great way to develop those skills and prepare for an account executive career.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of sales representatives, including account executives, is expected to grow steadily in coming years. The expanding economy, advances in technology and increased globalization are likely to drive demand for professionals that can help organizations attract new clients and maintain high levels of customer satisfaction.
The primary goals of account executives are to build sales by prospecting for new clients and generate future income by nurturing existing customer relationships. These professionals are in charge of account service, acting as liaison between their company and a select group of clients. If customers have questions, concerns or requests, account executives will relay their needs to the appropriate individual or department within the company and follow up with the customer.
Account executives may plan, develop and execute sales strategies, often to meet an established quota. They are typically assigned a specific territory, product and/or brand, and maintain relationships with a specific number of customers to ensure personal attention. Other account executive duties include maintaining account records such as order history and forecasting reports.
It is important for account executives to stay on top of new developments in their industry, so they regularly attend training sessions, conferences and trade shows. At times, account executives may be called upon to conduct market intelligence on competitors’ activities, including product or service pricing and sales techniques. Making sales presentations to potential customers and preparing bids and contracts are additional job duties.
The majority of account executives work in a corporate office setting. A standard 40-hour week is typical, but flexible hours and overtime may be necessary. Depending on the employer and industry, account executives may have limited or extensive travel. Some drive to various customer sites within a local region, while others may be required to make regular trips overseas.
The salary for account executives can vary widely depending on their company, industry and role; however, many have salaries in line with sales representatives. BLS data from May 2009 indicate the median annual salary for sales representatives was $50,920. The middle 50% earned between $35,950 and $74,310; however, the highest 10% brought in upwards of $106,130. Recent bachelor’s graduates will generally start out toward the lower end of the range; account executives with extensive experience and a history of successful customer relationships generally earn the top salaries.
Most entry-level account executive positions require a bachelor’s degree. Some employers favor candidates with a strong knowledge of business and finance, which can be obtained through a bachelor’s degree program in business administration. Prior sales or customer service experience can also be beneficial to individuals seeking a career in this field.
The first step to an account executive career can be a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a specialization in management. Coursework typically includes essential business skills, strategic management, finance for managers, and organizational behavior and development.
Employers can be confident that graduates of a business administration program with a specialization in management are able to:
Becoming a successful account executive takes sharp communication and interpersonal skills, as well as self-confidence and good judgment. A knack for presentations and persuasion are also very helpful attributes. If you have these essential qualities, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a specialization in management will provide the educational foundation you need to embark on an exciting account executive career.