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Nailing Your First Account Executive Job

Learn how to lead your SDRs, build revenue and crush quota in your first account executive job.

Being an account executive can be one of the most fulfilling and exciting roles on a sales team, but you need to come prepared. Here are some helpful tips on how to AE like a boss.

Find your sensei

No man is an island. If you’re a green AE, reaching out to seasoned colleagues unlocks a wealth of knowledge that you can use to avoid rookie mistakes and start closing deals quicker.

You’ll likely be assigned an onboarding buddy, but don’t limit yourself. Look for the most successful among your peers and pick their brain. This not only elevates your sales skills, but it's also a great way to build out your professional network. There’s also the added bonus of creating more stakeholders to your success. If you ask for help, your peers will be flattered, and they’ll be rooting for you to close deals too.

Introduce yourself to your clients

As AE, you are now the face of the products or services you sell to clients, so make yourself known. Reaching out as soon as possible lays the foundation for lasting customer relationship success and will net you higher earnings over time.

After inheriting your accounts, you should immediately block out time during your first few weeks to speak with them. Seek out the most durable first, but make sure you devote just as much time to newer clients and gather as much information as you can on how to make their lives easier. The more you lend an ear and connect with your customers, the higher the odds are of them renewing their contracts and guaranteeing you’ll hit OTE.

Listen here, pal

As an SDR or BDR, you may have developed a hard-to-break habit of talking your prospects’ ears off. But a great AE should take time to develop excellent active listening skills to learn as much about their prospects as possible.

This not only builds trust with a potential buyer, it also gives you more information with which to persuade, and ultimately, close a deal. Sales frameworks like MEDDPICC can help understand what information to look for from a prospect.

A good rule of thumb is a 40:60 ratio, wherein you speak for 40 percent of the conversation while letting the prospect lend their perspective for the remaining 60. You can even record your calls to make sure you’re hitting that target and pick up on issues you may have missed the first go round.

Embrace the disco

As an account executive, your time is your most precious commodity, so use those discovery skills effectively. Determining the feasibility of a deal is crucial to effectively allocating time that could better be spent elsewhere.

In an ideal world, your team would only set meetings with prospects that are an ideal fit and strongly interested, but this is the real world, so you still need to keep your ears open. Use your intro calls and all calls after to ask open ended questions and learn as much as possible about their ability and need to buy.

It might seem basic, but keeping those prospecting skills sharp will be key to allocating time and closing. It will also help you teach your SDRs when they’ve wasted your time.

Don’t hang up that prospecting hat just yet

If you signed a contract for an AE position thinking that your days of cold calling and emailing were over, we hope you used a pencil. Nearly all successful AEs still block out time every week to field prospects, which builds even more sales pipeline they can use to secure more deals.

Ultimately, as an AE, the buck stops with you when it comes to revenue, and all great leaders have to get their hands dirty. So be prepared to roll up your sleeves and hunt down leads, just like your SDRs do. After all, if you’ve become an AE, it’s probably because you were a great sales rep. So don’t be afraid to get back to basics to build a healthy pipeline.

Develop a positive relationship with your SDRs

That being said, you still have sales reps at your disposal. Cultivating a strong dynamic with them will fortify your team’s pipeline and help you crush quota.

Some AE’s might have the impulse to believe that they’ve, “paid their dues,” and don’t need to treat their team with compassion as a result, but this is not just morally wrong: It’s unproductive. First and foremost, SDR/BDRs fail because they can’t take the stress of the job. So reduce that stress. Be a positive leader and show them you’re invested in their success with helpful, constructive feedback.

Set the tone each day with your SDRs and make sure they know what expectations they have. Offer up advice and be open to any questions they may have. This is ultimately a collaborative relationship, so a happy and well-informed SDR will lead to better prospects and easier converting down the road. Remember, your SDR’s success is your success.

Your sales engineer is your new best friend

You have the soft skills required to hook a prospect and close a deal, but what about the technical details? Working closely with a sales engineer ensures you have a confident way to address concerns or questions a potential customer may have during the pivotal discovery phase.

As soon as you hit the ground, make contact with the SE. Ask thoughtful questions. It’s no secret in sales that SE and AEs can have an adversarial relationship, so defuse that. These questions are a helpful place to start:
-What is the number one technical reason accounts don’t renew?
-What features are coming down the pipeline?
-What’s a technically unfeasible feature prospects ask for frequently?

Just thinking to ask these questions will help build a constructive relationship with your SE, which will help for a smoother sales and demo process.

Structure your day to day

As you can see, you have a lot on your plate. Carefully structuring your daily routine will help you allocate time more efficiently, landing you more accounts and more revenue in the process.

Use a reliable calendar or scheduling app and diligently mark down all your appointments. Fill the open slots with the aforementioned cold calls, discovery calls, and follow-ups with customers. This will give you a great bird’s eye view of your week and give insight into any opportunities for additional time investment.

Carve out some much needed you time

That being said, make sure you’re leaving some free space on the board for a little one on one time with yourself. An AE juggles many plates at once, so burnout is something to take seriously.

It might seem trivial, but allowing yourself even just an hour break to sit down and eat lunch, read, or plainly collect your thoughts can pay dividends.

You got this

Sure, with bigger accounts comes bigger responsibility. But never let your nerves or insecurities get the best of you. As a green AE, you may feel the pressure of your new title, but it’s important to remember that you were chosen for a reason. Now go out there and show them why they hired you.

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