Account Executives play a vital role in a company. Oftentimes referred to as Sales Managers, are the people in charge of closing sales for business and managing active accounts. They’re the people who are directly responsible for bringing in the revenue for your company.
With time these jobs have become an essential part of every successful company. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for sales manager jobs is increasing and is likely to do so in the coming years as well. On top of that, companies are even adding in other departments to help their Account Executives perform better, such as Sales Development. This allows Account Executives to give more attention to priority tasks while allowing others to focus on helping Account Executives close more deals.
If you’re a business that’s employing Account Executives, it would benefit you to ensure they are set up for success. When your AEs succeed, your business succeeds. With that in mind, here are a few ways you can help your Account Executives be at their best.
Define Their Role
To start, one of the easiest things you can do for your Account Executives is by defining their role and responsibilities. The role of Account Executive can vary from company to company, so what you’re expecting from them might be different than their previous jobs. It’s important that you take some time to really think about the specific tasks you want your Account Executives to handle, then talk with them so that they understand their role.
Do you want the Account Executives at your company to manage existing accounts? Or are they there to simply close highly qualified sales leads? Or perhaps you want them to do both? If you ask your Account Executives to manage existing accounts, and they only have experience in closing sales, this is something you’ll want to know. By learning about their past experiences, and clearly defining what it is you expect from them in this role, you can set them up for success rather than failure.
If you’re unsure of what you want your Account Executives to do, consider giving them as little as possible. Ideally, your Account Executives won’t have much, or any, say in the Marketing or Sales Development aspect of your business. According to the Bridge Group 2016 Sales Development Metrics and Compensation Benchmark Report, companies that used role specialization were much more efficient than those who didn’t. These functions will all be taken care of by other departments so that your Account Executives can focus solely on closing sales, and possibly managing existing accounts.
Finally, if your budget allows for it, think about having a dedicated person to close sales deals and someone else to manage accounts., so that they can focus only on important tasks, and devote their attention to specific goals.
Goals and Rewards
As any successful Account Executive will tell you, proper motivation is essential. It would be great if all you needed to do to motivate your AEs was to give them their paychecks each month. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. While you can expect them to show up and do their jobs, if you really want to get the most out of them, you need to do more than that.
One of the first things you should do is assign each of your Account Executives goals or quotas. Give them a number to reach that is just slightly above from what you expect. If your Account Executives on average sell 100 products per month, set a goal to 110. This will encourage your Account Executives to work just a little harder, without feeling like their goal is completely unattainable.
To make these goals something worth achieving, give shoutouts and rewards. For example, if someone performs exceptionally well one month, you could mention them in the company newsletter or within a Slack channel. You could also give out a bonus to anyone who meets their quota or to the person who closes the most deals in a month. Holding contests like this and giving out rewards will add a friendly sense of competition to your team and motivate everyone to give their best.
Salespeople tend to have a competitive side to them, so if you can encourage them, either by competing with others in the department or against themselves – you’ll get better Account Executives.
Make AEs a Part of Your Team
The next thing you should focus on is ensuring that your Account Executives feel like they are a part of the team. All too often, salespeople, account executives and sales managers become too focused on their individual numbers, mostly because the company is not working to instill a sense of community among the staff.
Include your Account Executives in discussions about the future of the business, let them know they are a part of a bigger picture. Also talk with them about the goals your business has, and how they can contribute to achieving them. Trying to reach your own personal goals is great, but when you feel like those goals are helping the business build towards something greater, it’s even more motivating. By including your Account Executives in big picture discussions, you give them some sense of ownership over the business. Not only that it will motivate them to perform their best, but will also increase their loyalty to the company.
The other thing you can do is make sure they are familiar with people in other departments so that they can see how all the different groups work together for a common goal. If your Account Executives see how much time and effort is put into a marketing strategy, they’ll appreciate the work that goes into bringing them leads.
This will also make it easier for different departments to share ideas with one another. For example, if your Account Executives discover a pattern in their rejections or customer complaints, this is something other departments will want to know about. Then your marketing department can change their sales pitch, or operations can address the problem, which in turn will make life easier for the Account Executives.
Give Them the Proper Tools
Your Account Executives will have a hard time succeeding if they don’t have the right tools at their disposal. Account Executives need tools that will allow them to effectively communicate with both clients and other departments, tools that will help them manage client information, and tools to help them schedule their appointments. Without these, they will spend too much time trying to keep everything organized and not enough closing or managing sales. If your Account Executives are currently lacking the proper tools, here are a few you can try out:
PipeDrive – PipeDrive is a Customer Relationship Management tool designed to make the sales process easier. With it, your AEs can track the current status of leads, monitor their current goals and progress, and even reach out to potential customers with the included email integration. It’s an all-in-one tool designed to make life easier for your Sales department.
Calendly – To close deals and make clients happy, your Account Executives will have to schedule some meetings. Keeping track of all these can be tiresome, but Calendly makes it easier. Quickly schedule appointments without having to go through dozens of email replies.
Zoom – When you’re unable to meet with customers in person, video chatting is the next best thing. Zoom allows you to do this, as it is a video conferencing and meeting tool. You can use it to either connect with leads and clients, or you can use it to talk to other members of your company, making communication easier. Now, even if your Sales department isn’t in the same building, they can still have face-to-face meetings and get things done.
Improve Your SDRs
As we mentioned above, one of the keys to helping your Account Executives succeed is enabling them to focus only on revenue-generating tasks. Your Account Executives shouldn’t have to focus on cold calling or qualifying leads. These are the tasks for Sales Development Reps. However, if SDRs don’t perform their job well, Account Executives will suffer. Therefore, if you want your Account Executives to succeed you need to improve other teams that support them – lead researchers and sales development reps.
There are a few ways you can do this. First, you can steal an idea from above and motivate your SDRs through contests and rewards. Just like Account Executives are motivated by reaching high goals and getting rewarded for their hard work, so are SDRs. A great thing you can do is hold a “flash contest”. This is a surprise contest that lasts for a short amount of time. For example, you can give out a small reward to SDR who sets the most appointments by the end of the day. It’s a great way to give a boost to productivity and have some friendly competition in the office.
Another way to improve your SDRs is by examining their past work and providing feedback. Let’s say one of your SDRs is setting a lot of meetings, but these meetings ultimately fail at a higher rate than others. This is a sign that your SDR is incorrectly qualifying leads and setting up meetings with people who are less interested in your product or service. By showing your SDRs where they went wrong, and how they can improve, your AEs will spend less time sitting down with low-quality leads and therefore put their time to better use.
Finally, you can increase the number of SDRs you have on your team. A common trend among other business, as companies are looking to reduce the ratio of SDRs to Account Executives.
According to the Bridge Group Report, the ratio of Sales Development Reps (SDRs) to Account Executives has declined in recent years, from 3.9 to 2.5.
In addition, the report also states that “On average, one SDR works 265 leads per month. There is wide variation in this number, though, with 2/3 of respondents reporting between 150-400 leads per month.”
By increasing the number of SDRs on the team, you will be able to reach out to more leads and, ensure that each lead gets more attention.
Invest in Their Future
Finally, one thing that everyone is concerned about is their own future. When someone feels like they are in a dead-end job, or that they aren’t improving themselves, they become unhappy and less motivated on the job. To keep your Account Executives happy and motivated, invest in their future.
A great way you can do this is by taking the time to talk to each of your Account Executives about their career goals and aspirations. Do they want to run their own business? Become the manager of a department? Retire early? Everyone has their own individual goals, learn what these are and see if you can help them achieve them.
For instance, if one of your Account Executives wants to be the manager of a department one day, you can start giving them extra responsibilities. This will show that you see them as part of your long term plans. Or, if there isn’t much room for advancement within your own company, it will show that you’re at least willing to help them grow, even if it’s ultimately at another business.
You can also provide your Account Executives with different training to help them grow their careers. Provide training courses on different tools, different sales methods, or even different roles. This will not only make your employees happy, but it will benefit your business.
One study found that continuous training increases net sales by at least 50%. People want to feel that they are learning new things that will benefit them down the line, and your Account Executives will appreciate the effort you’re putting into their own personal and professional growth.
Account Executives are a vital part of any company. To ensure that your business is getting the most out of the people you hired, it’s important that you set them up for success. It doesn’t take much – just surround them with the right people, give them the proper tools, provide clear expectations, and find the best ways to motivate them. If you can do this, you’ll find that your Account Executives will work hard on generating revenue, allowing your business to grow for a long time to come.