No matter which role you’re in, everybody in a sales organization has an important part to play. Whether you’re cold-calling, doing sales demos, or making sure that contracts are getting signed, your piece of the puzzle ensures that new business keeps rolling in, keeping everybody employed, and, hopefully, happy.
In that sense, account executives are, without a doubt, irreplaceable. They serve as the company’s representatives, educating, promoting, and closing, acting as the face of an organization and moving prospects down the funnel until they eventually become customers — the quintessential sales functionaries.
But an excellent account executive is more than just a salesperson. They’re a proactive, industrious businessperson who understands the lay of the land, and is able to adjust to an ever-changing landscape. A great account executive closes deals, but is also able to handle many moving parts in a highly-demanding environment.
There are certain things that the best account executives do every day. Here are the top five:
1. They optimize their schedule
There are usually quite a few demands competing for an AE’s time, which is why the most successful ones regularly optimize their schedule. Despite how it may seem, there are only a few activities which are responsible for the overwhelming majority of progress, so AEs who understand what moves the needle and what doesn’t are the ones who will come out ahead. Pitching, following-up, and handling deals in progress should always take precedence, and any account executive who wants to be successful should understand that.
2. They collaborate with their teams
No matter how talented, an AE working on their own can never compete with one who has a close working relationship with other team members. AEs rely on BDRs and SDRs to source new business, and on customer success or customer support to onboard new clients and ensure they’re happy. Even if an account executive has all the sales skills in the world, they’ll fall short if they don’t have the trust and respect of their teammates. In sales, internal relationships can be just as important as external ones.
3. They refine their process
Mediocre account executives believe they already know everything and don’t need to waste time trying to improve, while exceptional ones understand they’re a work in progress, and are always looking for ways to get better. This is why they’re constantly refining their process, going over what’s working and what’s not, and adjusting accordingly. Everybody faces rejection and failure, but being proactive and looking for the reasons why we failed is what can separate the winners from everybody else. It’s not always pleasant, and there are plenty of other things most of us would rather be doing, but refining your process can make a big impact, especially for an ambitious account executive.
4. They stay up-to-date on industry happenings
It can be tempting to come to work, do what you have to do, and go home without trying to acquire any additional knowledge. The best account executives, however, stay up-to-date on what’s happening in their industry, understanding what their competitors are doing, and what’s happening in the industry at large. Very rarely can knowing too much hurt you, but not knowing enough can certainly cost you deals, especially since today’s hyper-educated prospect has usually done their research before speaking to a sales rep. This is why top AEs keep themselves apprised of the latest instead of just winging it. It’s another way to stay ahead of the curve by simply putting in a little extra effort.
5. They stay on top of their pipeline
If you ask the top account executives about a deal, any deal, no matter which stage it’s on, they’ll be able to tell you everything about it, down to the smallest detail. It’s not that the best account executives have a photographic memory, it’s that they pay attention to details, especially when it comes to their pipeline. While CRMs and note-taking software (Dooly is the industry-leader, and the fastest way to take notes and update Salesforce) can help you stay organized, top-performing AEs take it a step further, understanding the intricacies of each deal, the stakeholders involved, and any roadblocks that are standing in the way. They do this because it matters, and because they care. So if you want to be a top performing AE, make sure you make it a point to know everything you possibly can about your deals, otherwise, somebody else is likely to pick up your slack.