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 often seen as 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 can help you develop those skills and prepare for a career as an account executive.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of sales representatives, also known as account executives, is expected to grow steadily in the coming years. An expanding economy, advances in technology and increased globalization are likely to drive demand for professionals who 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 income by nurturing existing customer relationships. These professionals are in charge of account service, acting as a 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.
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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 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 research on competitors, including product or service pricing and sales techniques. Making sales presentations to potential customers and preparing bids and contracts are additional job duties.
Potential salaries for account executives can vary widely depending on the specific role, company and industry. For example, the average annual salary for sales representatives in the services industry was $61,450 as of May 2013, with the top 10% earning more than $110,690, the BLS reported. Sales representatives in the wholesale and manufacturing industry earned an average of $64,670, while those employed by wholesalers or manufacturers of scientific and technical products had a yearly average of $85,610.
Numerous factors can influence an individual’s salary potential and employment opportunities, including level of educational attainment and work history, as well as regional and national economic conditions.
Entry-level account executive positions typically 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 with a specialization in management. Coursework typically includes essential business skills, strategic management, finance for managers, and organizational behavior and development.
Employers should expect graduates of a business administration program with a specialization in management to be able to:
Prior sales or customer service experience can also be beneficial to individuals seeking a career in this field. Through employer-sponsored programs, it may be possible to gain an entry-level position with a bachelor’s degree and then use tuition assistance to attain a master’s degree.
Account executives need sharp communication and interpersonal skills, as well as self-confidence and good judgment. A knack for presentations and persuasion are also helpful attributes. If you have these qualities, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a specialization in management can provide the educational foundation necessary to embark on a career as an account executive.