Happiest Company Digital Marketing Strategy

Account Executive: Understanding their Role and Responsibilities

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By Anna Ribas, on 20 June 2024

An Account Executive is a professional responsible for the daily management of a company's accounts (clients), acting as the link between clients and the organization. Their ultimate function is to ensure that the client is satisfied with the service and stays with the company as long as possible to secure revenue. To achieve this, they work on building a strong and lasting relationship of trust.

Additionally, the Account Executive communicates the client's desires to the internal team and can suggest certain strategies to facilitate their work.

The role of an Account Executive is especially prevalent in marketing agencies, where demand is very high. Account Executives are also known as Account Managers.

If you are interested in pursuing a position like this or are a company looking for this type of profile, this article will outline the most important aspects of this profession so you understand its role within an organization.

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Main Functions of an Account Executive

Basic Planning of Strategies

Once the sales team secures a new client, the Account Executive is the one who meets with them to discuss their goals and aspirations (though the Project Manager may also be present in this meeting, as we will discuss later).

In this initial meeting, the Account Executive starts to build a relationship with the client and learn about their project idea.

After the meeting, they will assign the project to a team led by a Project Manager and provide basic strategic guidelines on how to approach it.

Suggestion of New Tactics

The Account Executive can periodically review the project's progress and suggest changes or new strategies to improve the final outcome.

Team Coordination

The Account Executive does not directly coordinate the entire team responsible for a project but rather the leaders of each team. That is, they coordinate the various Project Managers, whom we will discuss in the next section.

Client Accompaniment and Updates

The Account Manager is the professional the client will always reference, meaning they are the person the client will turn to with questions, problems, or suggestions. In this sense, Account Executives accompany the client from the initial meeting (not counting the first sales meeting where the service was sold) until the individual or organization decides to end the contract.

In addition to listening to the client and offering solutions, the Account Executive also informs them about the progress of actions and results, showing them part of the process.

Review of Actions

Before showing the final result to the client, the Account Executive conducts a final review to ensure everything is correct.

Market Studies

When Account Executives present the project to the Project Manager, they accompany it with a market study about the client's sector so that both the Project Manager and their team have more detailed information to work with.

Case Studies

The company may sometimes ask the Account Executive to carry out case studies showing how the project was handled and the results of certain clients, usually those who have been successful.

This study can be used internally to provide teams with a good work reference and externally to showcase the company's achievements to new clients.

Account Executive vs. Project Manager: They Are Not the Same

While the primary task of an Account Executive is to maintain client trust and loyalty and lead teams more indirectly and generally, the Project Manager is the main person responsible for reviewing and coordinating the strategies prepared for each client, as well as organizing their team. The planning and control of project actions are in their hands, as well as delivering it on time.

Although the Account Executive can also propose strategies and lead the team, they do so from a more distant and general position. In this sense, the Account Executive acts as an intermediary between the Project Manager and the client, also being the one who can conduct the final review of actions before presenting them to the client.

Furthermore, any opinions the Account Executive has will always be communicated to the Project Manager, who will then relay them to the team if deemed necessary.

In many companies, the roles of Account Executive and Project Manager overlap, causing tasks of one to fall onto the other. In fact, some companies opt to hire only Account Executives to also perform the work of the Project Manager. This is not recommended, as the person handling all the work might become overwhelmed. Therefore, it is advisable to implement both roles.

We understand that in small or medium-sized companies, it may be challenging to do this from the start, but as the company grows, it is recommended to create this role.

Necessary Skills to Be an Account Executive

A good Account Executive should have these skills to perform the job effectively.

  • High Communication Skills: The Account Manager is the person who will have to talk to the client daily and communicate the project's progress, so knowing how to express themselves accurately is essential. They must also relay information to internal teams, who must understand the strategy perfectly.
  • Teamwork Ability: The Account Manager never works alone; the success of a project depends on everyone doing their part. They must know not only how to motivate the teams but also delegate tasks to the most suitable people.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: When working face-to-face with clients, many unforeseen challenges arise. The Account Executive must handle them with calmness and patience and not get stuck in critical moments.
  • Attention to Detail: Any project in a company has many aspects and considerations. The Account Manager's role is to ensure that all details are met in the final review and that nothing is left incomplete.
  • Organization and Coordination Skills: The Account Executive is the one who initially distributes tasks and sets deadlines, so they must have high organizational skills for both time and personnel.

Challenges Faced by an Account Executive

Although an Account Executive can face many challenges in their daily professional life, these are the most common ones.

Different Client Expectations

It is common for sales teams not to be very specific with the services they sell or to sometimes take liberties to increase the chances of converting a lead into a client.

This obviously should not happen, but the reality is that it does, causing the client to come to the first meeting with the Account Executive with expectations and ideas that do not match reality.

In this case, the Account Executive's mission will be to clarify various aspects to the client to ensure they are satisfied with the agreement.

Sudden Client Changes During the Project

During the project's development, it is also very common for clients to change their perspective and want new things that may contradict the initially agreed-upon strategy.

In these cases, the Account Manager must be flexible to meet the client's demands as much as possible without jeopardizing the project's completion.

Chaos in Project Organization

Many professionals are involved in project development, so it is common for setbacks to arise that prevent meeting deadlines. The Account Executive must consider this when organizing actions, but it is not always easy.

Additionally, these professionals usually handle multiple accounts, so it is also important to know how to prioritize them and even change the order of priority when necessary.

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Anna Ribas