Are you debating between pursuing a career as an account executive or account manager? Though the roles sound similar, there are key differences in duties, skills, client interactions and more that set them apart. By understanding how account executives and managers diverge, as well as align, you can make an informed decision about which sales career path is the better fit.
This comprehensive guide examines the contrasts and comparisons on all fronts – from core responsibilities to qualifications needed in an account executive vs account manager face-off. Arm yourself with insights before embarking on either sales role.
Overview of Account Executives and Account Managers
Account executives and account managers are two vital roles in sales and account management. Though their titles sound similar, they actually serve different functions within an organization. Getting clear on the definitions, responsibilities, and organizational fit of each role is key to understanding how they compare.
An account executive is a sales professional focused on acquiring new business and managing customer relationships. They are typically the primary point of contact when pitching to potential new clients. Account executives aim to convert leads into customers and continue nurturing those relationships post-sale.
An account manager handles relationships with existing clients. Their goal is to ensure complete customer satisfaction and maximize the value derived from ongoing accounts. Account managers serve as a main point of contact for addressing clients’ needs and resolving any issues with products or services.
The core duties of an account executive revolve around business development – identifying, qualifying, and pitching to new prospects to ultimately convert them into customers. Common responsibilities include:
- Researching potential new accounts
- Making sales calls/pitches
- Negotiating contracts and pricing
- Handling objections and closing deals
- Onboarding new clients
- Maintaining consistent contact with clients
Account managers have a more retention-focused role, centered on client relations rather than new sales. Their key duties include:
- Having regular check-ins with existing clients
- Acting as the main point of contact for issues/requests
- Ensuring clients are satisfied and having needs met
- Addressing problems proactively and troubleshooting
- Exploring expansion or upsell opportunities
- Managing account renewals and retention
Account executives pass off closed deals to account managers for ongoing management. But there is contact between the roles, such as when account managers provide feedback to inform new sales strategies.
Where They Fit in an Organization
Most commonly, both account executives and managers reside within an organization’s sales department. They may report directly to the head of sales or to frontline sales managers.
In terms of hierarchy, account executives are typically individual contributors – part of the frontline sales team. More tenured account executives may take on leadership roles and manage teams of sales reps.
Account managers also tend to be individual contributors that report up through sales operations. They coordinate closely with account executives, customer success, and other client-facing teams. More senior account managers may handle larger books of business.
The sales department relies on the symbiotic relationship between account executives bringing in new business and account managers expanding on those accounts. Sales leadership oversees both functions to optimize revenue growth and customer satisfaction.
The key differences in definitions, responsibilities, and organizational alignment make an account executive vs. account manager comparison worthwhile. Though selling skills are required for both roles, account executives live on the frontlines of new sales while account managers serve a specialized function in retaining and growing existing books of business. Understanding these foundational differences sets the stage for a deeper dive into how the roles compare and contrast.
Key Differences Between Account Executives and Account Managers
Though account executives and account managers work hand-in-hand, their day-to-day responsibilities and required skillsets differ quite a bit. Understanding where these sales roles diverge is critical for deciding which career path is right for you.
Key areas where account executives and account managers differ include:
- Main job duties/daily work
- Skill sets and qualifications
- Client interactions and relationships
- Involvement in the sales process
- Travel and location
- Performance metrics and goals
Examining these differences provides helpful insights for those exploring account executive vs account manager careers.
Main Job Duties and Day-to-Day Work
An account executive’s primary duty is to hunt for new business. Their typical day revolves around identifying prospects, researching accounts, making sales calls, and ultimately landing new deals.
Account managers focus on retaining and expanding existing accounts. Their days center around corresponding with current clients to address needs, upsell products, and ensure a positive customer experience.
Here’s a breakdown of typical daily activities:
- Research potential new accounts
- Make cold calls/emails to prospects
- Travel to client meetings and events
- Give sales presentations and product demos
- Write proposals and negotiate contracts
- Onboard new clients after closing deals
- Coordinate with account managers on handoffs
- Check in with clients to discuss needs and issues
- Review account history and data
- Raise concerns with other departments to address problems
- Explore upsell/expansion opportunities
- Report feedback to account executives
- Manage renewals and retain accounts
- Ensure clients are satisfied with products/services
While both roles liaise between clients and internal teams, account executives focus outward to attract new business while account managers look inward to nurture existing relationships.
Skill Sets and Qualifications
The divergent duties of account executives and managers lead to some variations in preferred skills and qualifications:
- Sales driven mindset and persuasion skills
- Ability to cold call/email for lead generation
- Strong communication and presentation abilities
- Confidence and persistence
- Negotiation and objection handling
- Closing/sales finalization skills
- Goal-oriented and metric-driven
- Strong customer service orientation
- Account management experience
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Problem-solving and troubleshooting abilities
- Industry/product knowledge
- Attention to detail and organization
- Analytical and strategic thinking
Both roles require sales abilities, but account managers need a more specialized skillset focused on client retention versus new business development.
In terms of qualifications, account executives are typically required to have a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing or communications, along with 1-2 years of sales experience. Account managers may need deeper industry experience and account management expertise built over 3-5 years in a client-facing role.
Client Interactions and Relationships
The nature of client interactions and relationships also differs significantly:
- Interact with new potential clients they’ve targeted
- Focus on initial rapport building and discovery
- Relationship centers on sales cycle and closes after contract signing
- Short-term interactions focused on pitching/persuading
- Interact with existing ongoing clients
- Focus on nurturing long-term relationships
- Serve as the hub of regular client communications
- Long-term interactions focused on retention and growth
Account executives have more short-term, transactional interactions, while account managers maintain longer-term partnerships with recurring engagement.
Involvement in the Sales Process
Account executives and managers also play very different roles in the overall sales process:
- Lead generation/prospecting for new opportunities
- Initial outreach and making contact
- Developing buyer interest and desire
- Presenting solutions tailored to needs
- Negotiating and closing the sale
- Transition client to account manager after sale
- Receive new clients from account executives
- Manage post-sale onboarding and implementation
- Act as ongoing single point of contact
- Expand and renew established accounts
- Provide feedback to account executives
Account executives handle the pre-sale processes while account managers own post-sale account growth and retention.
Travel and Location
Travel expectations also differ between the roles:
- Account Executives – Expected to travel frequently to attend industry events, meet prospects in person, and visit client sites (up to 50% travel).
- Account Managers – Travel is infrequent, only when required to make client visits or attend important meetings (10-20% travel).
Given their business development focus, account executives tend to be on the road more often than account managers.
Performance Metrics and Goals
Finally, account executives and managers have different performance metrics and goals guiding their work:
- Monthly recurring revenue (MRR)
- New sales growth
- Sales activity metrics (calls made, meetings booked, etc)
- Sales funnel progression and pipeline metrics
- Account acquisition targets and quotas
- Client retention/renewal rates
- Account revenue expansion through upsells
- Client satisfaction (CSAT) scores
- Response times and resolution rates for issues
- Individual account growth goals
Account executives have new business sales quotas, while account managers focus on goals around retaining and growing established accounts.
Clearly outlining the divergences across all of these factors is key for those weighing an account executive vs account manager career and determining which path is the right fit. The roles align on some skills like communication abilities but differ markedly in activities, goals, and day-to-day focus. Keeping these contrasts top of mind will set you up to make the best decision for your talents and interests.
Similarities Between the Roles
While account executives and account managers have some clear distinctions, they also share some common skill requirements and objectives that make them well-suited for complementary roles on the sales team.
Key areas where account executives and managers align include:
- Communication skills
- Sales abilities
- Client focus
- Revenue generation responsibility
Highlighting the shared attributes provides further insight into how account executives and managers work together to drive sales success.
Both account executives and managers need to have exceptional communication abilities to be effective.
For account executives, communication skills are critical for:
- Crafting compelling sales messaging and presentations to highlight product/service value propositions
- Asking discovery questions and actively listening during prospect meetings to understand pain points
- Handling objections, negotiating contracts, and finalizing deals
- Clearly conveying complex products or services in easy-to-understand terms
- Developing proposals tailored to prospect needs and challenges
For account managers, top-notch communication is vital for:
- Regular check-ins with clients to assess satisfaction and discuss needs
- Connecting clients with appropriate internal teams to solve problems
- Managing client expectations and explaining complicated scenarios
- Presenting upsell/expansion opportunities effectively
- Providing ongoing educational touchpoints through emails/calls
- Gathering client feedback and conveying it internally
- Resolving issues quickly through clear correspondence
The ability to communicate clearly and persuasively with both clients and colleagues is a must-have skill in both roles.
Account executives and managers also both leverage sales talents, albeit in different ways:
- Account executives rely heavily on traditional sales competencies like lead generation, presentation delivery, and negotiation to land new deals.
- Account managers use sales skills to upsell and cross-sell additional products/services to expand existing accounts.
Examples of important sales abilities include:
- Understanding prospect/client needs
- Articulating value propositions
- Overcoming objections
- Negotiating favorable terms
- Closing agreements
- Managing pipelines
These sales competencies are core to new customer acquisition for account executives and growing wallet share within existing accounts for account managers.
Both roles also share a passion for building relationships with clients, albeit different types of clients.
Account executives thrive on forming new connections with prospective clients and learning about their businesses to make customized sales pitches.
Account managers love getting to know their book of clients deeply – their needs, goals, and pain points – to enhance the client experience and share feedback with internal teams.
At their core, both roles require strategic relationship-building skills and a client-centric mindset. They simply apply this shared strength to different targets at different relationship stages.
Lastly, account executives and managers share responsibility for contributing to company revenue, just through varied means:
- Account executives directly generate revenue by landing new deals – the lifeblood of sales growth.
- Account managers indirectly generate revenue by retaining existing clients and identifying expansion opportunities.
Without the new business brought in by account executives, account managers wouldn’t have clients to upsell and cross-sell. Without account managers maximizing existing accounts, new sales would be less profitable.
They each have an important part to play in driving overall sales revenue, making them interconnected roles.
Though their day-to-day duties differ, account executives and managers share some core skills and objectives around communication abilities, sales competencies, customer relationships, and revenue impact. These similarities make them a dream team for sales departments when properly aligned.
How to Decide Which Role Is Right for You
With an understanding of the key differences between account executives and account managers, professionals exploring these sales careers can better evaluate which is the best fit.
Factors to consider when deciding between account executive vs account manager positions include:
- Your personality – outgoing vs. detail-oriented
- Preference for new challenges vs. maintaining relationships
- Passion for sales vs. customer success
- Travel frequency/location preferences
Assessing your skills and interests related to these factors will provide helpful guidance as you weigh these sales role options.
Outgoing and Persuasive vs Detail-Oriented and Analytical
Personality plays a major role in determining fit.
Account executives tend to be more outgoing, persuasive, and ambitious. They get energized by networking events, cold calling, and delivering sales presentations. Being an account executive is great for natural extroverts.
Account managers are often more detail-oriented, analytical, and methodical. They excel at diving into data, spotting trends, and solving intricate problems. This role fits best for those who gravitate toward structure and nuance.
Think about where you fall on the spectrum between persuasion/outreach and analysis/planning when deciding which function you are better wired for.
Thrive on New Challenges vs Enjoy Maintaining Relationships
Also consider whether you prefer the excitement of new challenges or the reward of long-term relationship building.
Account executives thrive on landing new deals and constantly progressing prospects through sales stages. No two deals are alike, offering fresh tests to confront.
Account managers find joy in nurturing a book of business, learning client nuances, and strengthening ties over years. They build trust through consistency in ongoing partnerships.
Assess whether the thrill of the hunt as an account executive or the satisfaction of account stewardship as a manager gets your adrenaline pumping more.
Passion for Sales and Business Development vs Passion for Customer Success
Think about what attracts you more – the sales process itself or the post-sale customer experience?
Account executives live for sales activities like cold calling, negotiating, closing deals, and hitting quotas. The day-to-day of business development drives them.
Account managers love being customer advocates, resolving issues, and ensuring clients extract maximum value from products/services. Their passion is customer success.
Be honest about which excites you more and aligns with your innate interests and talents.
Enjoy Travel and Face-to-Face Interactions vs Prefer Office-Based Work
Also reflect on your work environment preferences.
Account executives travel frequently to meet prospective clients in person and attend industry conferences and events. They are on the road upwards of 50% or more of the time.
Account managers mostly work from inside the office, traveling occasionally for on-site meetings with key clients and events. They are road warriors less than 25% of the time.
If you enjoy life on the road, account executive may be more fulfilling. If you prefer regular office hours, account manager offers more stability.
Other Factors to Weigh
A few other considerations around fit include:
- Career development – account executive builds general sales skills while account manager develops specialized account expertise.
- Stress levels – account executives may face more pressure hitting sales quotas while account managers ensure client retention.
- Income potential – account executives may have higher commission upside, but account managers gain stability from recurring revenues.
- Interaction style – account executives present outgoing friendly personas while account managers focus more on being patient listeners.
Evaluating personal fit based on these numerous factors will provide the clarity needed to make the right decision between these sales career paths. Be honest about your skills, passions, workplace preferences, and career development needs as you weigh the pros and cons of account executive vs. account manager roles.
Career Outlook and Salary Potential for Account Executives and Account Managers
When evaluating the pros and cons of an account executive vs account manager career path, projected growth and earning potential are important factors to consider.
Understanding the job outlook and salary ranges for each role provides helpful context on long-term prospects.
Account Executive Career Outlook and Salary
The job outlook for account executives is strong, projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Positions for sales managers, who often oversee teams of account executives, are expected to increase by 5% from 2020 to 2030.
This steady growth reflects the ongoing need across industries for sales professionals who can boost revenue by acquiring new customers. Demand should remain healthy for qualified account executives who leverage sales skills and business acumen to drive deals.
In terms of salary potential, account executives earn:
- Base salary – $45,000 to $65,000 on average
- Commission – Average ~10% of sales volume generated
- Total compensation – $75,000 to $120,000 including commission
With commission providing uncapped upside for top performers exceeding sales quotas, six-figure salaries are common among successful account executives.
Those with college degrees, sales certifications, and proven success hitting targets can expect to land towards the higher end of the pay scale.
Account Manager Career Outlook and Salary
While specific statistics are limited, the role of account manager appears poised for solid growth as companies aim to retain and expand existing customer relationships.
As long as businesses continue to prioritize account management, account managers should enjoy increasing opportunities, especially those with client relationship expertise.
For salary, account managers typically earn:
- Base salary – $55,000 to $85,000
- Commission – Ranges from none up to 5% of account revenue
- Total compensation – $70,000 to $110,000
The highest paid account managers are those managing large books of high-value clients, giving them the chance to earn larger bonuses and commissions.
Like with account executives, those with degrees, certifications, and a proven track record generally occupy the upper salary ranges.
While both roles offer solid outlooks and earning potential, hungry account executives may see higher upside by aggressively crushing sales targets. But account managers gain stability from commission on recurring client revenues.
Weighing the projected growth, earning possibilities, and income stability are all important when choosing between these sales career options.
Advice for Being Successful as an Account Executive or Account Manager
Whether you opt for an account executive or account manager career path, there are some core strategies that can set you up for success in either sales role.
While their day-to-day duties differ, applying the following advice will maximize your impact and performance:
- Develop strong communication skills
- Build relationships and trust
- Understand product/service offerings
- Set goals and track metrics
- Stay organized and manage time wisely
Mastering these areas will make you a high-achiever as either an account executive or account manager.
Developing Strong Communication Skills
Sharp communication abilities are imperative for success in both roles.
For account executives, you need to communicate persuasively to influence prospect decisions. For account managers, communication is vital to properly address client needs.
Tips for improving communication skills:
- Practice active listening – Don’t just hear what clients say, truly listen and process the meaning.
- Speak clearly and concisely – Organize thoughts and get to the point quickly and effectively. Avoid rambling.
- Ask thoughtful questions – Asking smart, open-ended questions drives meaningful dialogue.
- Match communication styles – Adapt to each client’s style preferences, whether data-driven analysts or big picture visionaries.
- Use compelling stories – Weave in case studies and success stories to reinforce points.
- Anticipate needs – Get ahead of potential client questions and concerns.
- Follow up – Follow through on next steps discussed in meetings.
Whether corresponding over email, presenting virtually, or meeting in person, continually honing communication abilities is a must.
Building Relationships and Trust
Succeeding in these client-facing sales roles also requires mastering relationship-building.
For account executives, focus on establishing rapport right from initial interactions and maintaining it across the sales cycle.
For account managers, strengthen existing connections through consistency, transparency, and delivering results.
Strategies for fostering relationships and trust include:
- Personalize outreach – Use first names, remember personal details, and reference previous conversations.
- Demonstrate expertise – Show command of your product, the client’s business, and industry landscape.
- Focus on value – Keep discussions centered on the client’s goals and how you can help achieve them.
- Follow through – Do what you say you will do, when you say you’ll do it.
- Adopt consultative posture – Position yourself as an advisor rather than just a sales rep.
- Highlight shared goals – Reinforce that you’re invested in mutual success.
- Maintain patience – Recognize that meaningful relationships take time to develop.
Building authentic rapport is the key that unlocks deals as an account executive and enduring loyalty as an account manager.
Understanding Product/Service Offerings
Deep knowledge of what you are selling, whether products or services, is also essential for both roles.
For account executives, you need expertise to convey solutions tailored to prospect needs. Account managers need to grasp solutions to properly expand accounts.
Best practices include:
- Learn portfolio thoroughly – Understand the full breadth of offerings inside and out.
- Keep current – Stay updated as new offerings are added and existing ones evolve.
- Familiarize with applications – Know use cases and be able to provide vertical/horizontal examples.
- Highlight differentiators – Speak to unique capabilities that set offerings apart from competitors.
- Address common concerns – Prepare explanations that preempt likely questions or objections.
- Leverage product team – Collaborate with product marketers and technical experts to sharpen knowledge.
Maintaining an intricate understanding of solutions will ensure you can effectively convey value.
Setting Goals and Tracking Metrics
To maximize success, both account executives and managers need to meticulously set goals and track performance against key metrics.
Account executives should focus on lead generation, sales activity goals, and closed revenue targets. Account managers should concentrate on account growth, retention rate, and customer satisfaction.
Best practices for goal-setting and metrics tracking:
- Make goals SMART – Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
- Align on joint goals – Collaborate with sales managers to develop shared objectives.
- Monitor daily/weekly – Stay on top of daily activities and results relative to weekly goals.
- Correct course quickly – If falling behind on metrics, quickly adjust strategies.
- Leverage CRM – Use your CRM to automatically log activities and track metrics.
- Review regularly – Set regular meetings with managers to assess progress.
Continuous goal and metric monitoring ensures you stay on a growth trajectory in your role.
Staying Organized and Managing Time
Finally, optimize daily and weekly schedules to maximize efficiency in both account executive and manager positions.
With heavy workloads, you need to be ruthless about managing time and staying organized.
Tactics to enhance productivity include:
- Plan weekly – Map out the most vital strategic activities to complete each week.
- Organize tasks – Use to-do lists, calendars, project boards, etc. to prioritize and schedule work.
- Eliminate distractions – Limit time sinks like unnecessary meetings and emails.
- Leave buffer time – Build in flexibility for unexpected client needs or urgent issues.
- Take breaks – Get away from your desk throughout the day to recharge mental focus.
- Automate where possible – Use tools like CRMs, email templates, etc. to work smarter.
Make the most of every minute through careful organization and time allocation.
Consistently applying these keys for success as an account executive or manager will accelerate performance, career growth, and income potential. Master this advice to maximize your impact in either sales role.
Key Takeaways on the Differences and Similarities
In reviewing the various comparisons between account executives and account managers, some core differentiators and alignments should be clear:
- Account executives focus on new business while account managers grow existing accounts.
- Account executives heavily prospect and pitch, while account managers service and retain established clients.
- Account executives close new deals then transition to account managers for ongoing management.
- Account executives need sales skills to land clients, account managers need specialized account expertise to expand relationships.
- Account executives travel frequently, account managers only occasionally.
- Account executives aim to hit sales quotas, account managers work to maximize lifetime value.
- Both roles require excellent communication abilities to build connections.
- Both leverage sales competencies, just applying them differently.
- Both roles thrive on developing client relationships, just with different clients.
- Both contribute to generating revenue, one directly and one indirectly.
- Both typically have similar educational backgrounds and early career paths.
- Both work closely together, with account executives bringing in new clients for account managers to manage.
- Account executives live on the frontlines of sales, hunting new business.
- Account managers work behind the scenes to grow and retain accounts.
- Account executives cast the net wide to open doors with many prospects.
- Account managers foster in-depth relationships with a book of established clients.
While their day-to-day varies significantly, they share a core passion for sales and client relationships.
The synergistic skills and objectives of account executives and managers allow them to drive sales success together. But understanding where they diverge is crucial in determining which role aligns best with your talents, interests, and career goals.
Assessing these key differences and similarities provides the insights needed to make an informed decision between these client-facing sales roles. Weigh both the contrasts and alignments as you evaluate which career path offers the best fit.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Account Executives and Account Managers
Some common questions that arise when researching careers as an account executive vs account manager include:
Is an account executive higher than an account manager?
This depends on the organization, but generally account executives and account managers are parallel roles with equal standing.
In some companies, the account executive title carries more prestige. At other organizations, it’s the opposite.
Often the two positions report into sales management at the same level. Experienced account managers overseeing large books may have seniority over junior account executives though.
Status differs based on tenure, performance, and management structure rather than the titles inherently. Both roles are pivotal sales positions.
How do account executives get paid?
The typical pay structure for account executives includes:
- Base salary – Accounts for 50-80% of total compensation, usually $45K to $65K.
- Commission – Earned as a percentage of new sales generated, often 5-15%. More junior reps may start closer to 5%.
- Performance bonuses – For exceeding quotas or revenue targets, often quarterly.
- Equity – Some firms offer stock options or grants for standout performers.
High performers can earn $100K+ with commission and bonuses accounting for a sizable portion when sales targets are met or beat.
Do account managers travel?
Travel requirements vary, but account managers typically travel far less than account executives.
Whereas account executives may travel 50% or more to visit prospects and attend industry conferences, account manager travel is generally limited to:
- The occasional client visit for on-site meetings
- Joining important client events or conferences
- Attending their company’s national sales meetings
Most client interactions occur remotely – by phone, email, video calls, etc. Account managers may only travel 10-25% of the time on average. Their focus is internal, not external networking.
What degree do you need to be an account executive?
Most account executives have a bachelor’s degree; common majors include business, marketing, communications, journalism, public relations and advertising.
Coursework in sales, negotiation, communication, marketing and social psychology is helpful prep for the role.
Some companies may prefer candidates with a master’s degree for senior-level positions.
Specific certifications like a Certified Sales Professional (CSP) designation can further boost qualifications.
But sales drive, persuasion skills and business acumen are weighted more heavily than formal education by most employers.
Can an account manager become an account executive?
It’s common for account managers to transition into an account executive role, leveraging their account management expertise.
Strong account managers possess many of the core skills needed to be an effective account executive, namely:
- Strong communication and relationship-building abilities
- Solid understanding of the sales process
- Existing client relationships to tap for referrals
- Familiarity with the product/service portfolio
Moving from account manager to account executive allows using those transferable skills and focusing them on a new business development role.
The transition can reinvigorate an account manager seeking new challenges while leveraging existing strengths.
What types of products do account executives sell?
Account executives sell all types of products and services across virtually every industry, including:
- Technology – Software, hardware, cloud services
- Advertising & Media – Broadcast, print and digital advertising
- Finance – Wealth management, insurance, lending
- Manufacturing – Industrial machinery, components, raw materials
- Healthcare – Pharmaceuticals, medical devices, healthcare services
- Business Services – Consulting, marketing agencies, HR/payroll services
- Telco – Phone, internet, TV services
Any B2B company that sells products or services to other businesses utilizes account executives to generate new sales.
How much do account managers make?
According to PayScale, the average account manager salary ranges from $55,000 to $85,000, with the median falling around $65,000.
With bonuses and commissions, total compensation can reach $90,000 to $110,000.
The highest earners are account managers handling large books of business for major enterprise clients. They have the most upside.
Geographic location, industry, experience level and other factors influence account manager salaries.
What’s better – account executive or account manager?
There’s no universally “better” role – it depends on your skills, interests, and career goals.
Those who thrive on sales may find account executive more rewarding. You directly impact revenue and growth.
Those who love customer relationships may lean towards account manager. You get to dive deep with your book of accounts.
Both offer paths to sales leadership positions. Evaluate your strengths and preferences to decide which is a better personal fit.
Can you be both an account executive and account manager?
It’s possible but uncommon to handle both account executive and manager responsibilities simultaneously. The roles tend to be full-time, specialized functions.
In smaller companies though, sales reps may juggle both acquiring new customers and managing existing ones in a hybrid role.
It requires excelling at both sales prospecting and account stewardship – a rare combination of skills in one person. Distinct account executive and manager roles provide focus.
But some entrepreneurs and sales professionals thrive on the variety of excelling at both new sales and account management together.
Other Relevant Questions
Q: What are the main differences between an account executive and an account manager?
A: The key differences are that account executives focus on acquiring new business while account managers focus on retaining and growing existing accounts. Account executives prospect new leads while account managers service established clients.
Q: What kind of skills do you need to be an account executive?
A: Strong sales skills are essential for account executives, including lead generation abilities, presentation skills, negotiation tactics, and the ability to close deals. Persuasion skills and confidence are also vital.
Q: What kind of skills do you need to be an account manager?
A: Account managers need strong customer service skills to maintain positive client relationships. This includes communication abilities, troubleshooting skills, attention to detail, patience, and analytical thinking to uncover expansion opportunities.
Q: Do account executives travel more than account managers?
A: Yes, account executives travel frequently, upwards of 50% of the time, to prospect new leads, attend industry events, and visit potential clients. Account managers travel occasionally for on-site meetings with key accounts.
Q: How are account executives paid compared to account managers?
A: Account executives earn a base salary plus commissions on new sales, allowing higher upside but less stability. Account managers receive a higher base with smaller commissions on expanding existing accounts.
Q: What is the average account executive salary?
A: The average account executive base salary ranges from $45,000 to $65,000. With commissions and bonuses, total compensation averages $75,000 to $120,000.
Q: What degree do you need to become an account executive?
A: Most account executives have a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing or communications. Relevant sales certificates can further boost qualifications.
Q: Can an account manager transition into an account executive role?
A: Yes, it’s common for account managers to leverage their skills and become account executives. Strong relationship abilities translate well to the new business acquisition side.
Q: Are account executives higher than account managers?
A: There is no set hierarchy – they are parallel roles. In some firms account executives have higher status, while account managers are seen as senior in others.
Q: Is it better to be an account executive or account manager?
A: It depends on your skills and interests. Those who thrive on sales may prefer being an account executive. Those who enjoy deep customer relationships may find account manager more fulfilling.
Summary – Account Executive vs Account Manager
Deciding between an account executive or account manager career path requires understanding the key differences and similarities between these sales roles.
Here are the major takeaways:
- Account executives focus outwardly on hunting new business and sales growth. Account managers look inward to retain and expand existing accounts.
- Account executives heavily prospect new leads, while account managers service established clients and strengthen relationships.
- Account executives require salesmanship to land deals, account managers need specialized account skills to manage relationships post-sale.
- Account executives travel frequently, account managers only for select client meetings.
- Account executives aim to hit sales targets, account managers work to maximize account lifetime value through retention and expansion.
- Both roles require excellent communication skills, sales abilities, client-centric mindsets, and the drive to generate revenue.
- Account executives transition clients to account managers once sales are closed for ongoing account stewardship.
- Growth outlook and earning potential are strong for both roles, especially top performers.
Weigh your skills, interests, personality fit and career aspirations as you evaluate which role is the better match. Understanding these key contrasts and alignments will steer you towards the ideal sales career path.