If you’re a sales development rep (SDR), sales coordinator, or something in between, the AE promotion path feels like a natural next step. 

But here’s the truth: Just because you’re a great SDR, for example, doesn’t mean you’ll make an amazing AE since the responsibilities that come with this sales role aren’t for everyone. 

The first thing you need to do before setting your sights on this role is to understand what it takes to fill it. 

So follow this guide to see if you’re cut out for the job.

The AE Role & What It’s All About 

If you want to be an AE, prepare for your day-to-day sales responsibilities – like closing big deals – to share the spotlight with customer service and being a brand ambassador. 

Besides managing your client’s needs and being their point of contact, the AE role also requires you to generate new business plus foster and maintain relationships with existing clients. You’ll have to keep up with numerous brands to learn their ins and outs and the best ways to champion their needs so you can close them.

If that sounds exciting to you, you’ll likely love being a liaison between your company and theirs – not to mention working with every department in your company to ensure your client’s satisfaction. 

It might be in your wheelhouse to be resourceful and know more about your client’s account than their own internal team, but what about making big decisions? 

Your company and the clients you manage will lean on your wisdom to keep them in the black.

No matter your industry, here’s what you can expect your day to look like as an AE

🔑 Prospecting and assisting with sales calls.

🔑 Identifying target accounts through networking

🔑 Learning about clients’ needs, industry, and competitors.

🔑 Administrative tasks like updating your pipeline.

🔑 Creating and implementing timelines for projects.

🔑 Spotting and acting on upselling and cross-selling opportunities. 

🔑 Presenting performance reviews to clients and management.

🔑 Anticipating and mitigating challenges for clients.

And that’s just some of what you’d have to do.

Generally speaking, you should stay up to date with the latest industry trends and your company’s products and services. 

Essential Skills Every Top-Tier Account Executive Should Have 

As you can see, the responsibilities of an AE are versatile, which is why it’s important to work on a wide range of skills if you want to excel in this role. 

Here are some account executive skills you should focus on honing. 


Having strong communication skills is an absolute must for an account executive. 

This role heavily depends on calling, emailing, and reaching out to your potential and existing clients. Besides that, you’ll also create reports and all kinds of presentations to keep stakeholders and clients in the loop. 

Learning how to communicate clearly and effectively will help you get your message through. 

Therefore, you need to polish your written and verbal communication skills, so that you’re able to explain and present even more complex concepts in an understandable way. 


Active listening is among the most critical skills in any sales role. 

account executive skills

As an account executive, you have to understand what your customers need and share all the details of communication with your team

To achieve this and accurately convey messages back and forth between both parties, you have to:  

  • Listen actively and attentively.
  • Recap what your client has said and confirm you understand them correctly 
  • Ask follow-up questions to clarify any potential misunderstandings. 

Active listening means that you will let your prospect do the talking and resist your urge to interrupt them with your pitch


The ability to empathize with your customers and understand their pain points is something that will allow you to build strong relationships with them. 

People can tell when someone genuinely wants to help them. So, if your primary motivation is to sell and make a profit, it will show and erode your customers’ trust in you. 

Try seeing things from their point of view and make sure your top priority is finding a mutually beneficial solution. 


Given that one of the main job responsibilities of an AE includes negotiating new contracts with and renewing existing ones, it’s obvious why your negotiation skills should be superb. 

Your task is to identify potential objections and find a way to overcome them in a way that will secure the best possible deal for your company. 

Although having your customers’ best interests in mind, giving in to their every request isn’t the way to go. 

Organizational Skills 

The odds are you’ll be handling several accounts at the same time. 

Therefore it’s essential to stay on top of all your tasks and deadlines so that you can move all the projects forward in a timely manner. 

To achieve this, you need to organize and keep track of your activities and prevent overseeing the latest developments or missing deadlines across different accounts. Project management and collaboration tools can assist in this process.

A huge part of this is meticulous time management. You’ll often be multitasking, so make sure you allocate enough time for every activity based on the complexity of the task. 

Problem-Solving Skills 

Being an AE requires a bit of creativity when it comes to finding innovative solutions to customer issues that pop up during the sales process quickly. 

Closing a deal isn’t always smooth sailing. It’s more like navigating choppy waters. 

This means that you have to be ready to make instant decisions since you won’t have weeks or even days to think your actions or responses through. 

Balancing Teamwork and Working Independently 

The account executive role isn’t straightforward. 

Some accounts require working closely with an entire sales team. But at other times, you’ll have to work independently. 

Being comfortable with both teamwork and working independently is what makes an excellent AE. 

To the AE Role and Beyond

If you made it to the bottom of this article and you’re still sure this role is a good fit, chances are you have the potential to be a pretty good AE.

In this role, your workday will be fast-paced and competitive, plus filled with meetings and touch bases with colleagues, clients, and prospects. 

But the experience you gain and the skills you develop will set you up for the senior career possibilities that follow being an AE: director of sales, business development manager, sales consultant, and more. Who knows, you can even land in the c-suite.

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