If you’re thinking or hoping to enjoy a successful career as an account executive it pays to think about what makes a great AE. Here’s our guide to the personal and professional qualities you need to excel as an account executive.
What qualifications do you need to achieve that dream job and do become an effective AE? The short answer is none. Great account executives need not have any particular formal qualification and, in fact, many recruiters and Human Resources departments believe, as long as a candidate has genuine passion, a degree in an unrelated subject such as literature or art might serve a prospective AE better than a Degree in Business Administration (MBA) would.
While in previous years an agency might have invested in relevant training for a newly appointed account executive, this has become less the case in recent years and the onus is now with you as an individual to be responsible for your own training while you work. While it may not be an immediately attractive proposition to give up your time on weekends and evenings to achieve vocational qualifications, a willingness to take responsibility for your own learning will help you become an excellent AE.
Communication skills have got to be the number one on our list of personal qualities for account executives. You’ll need well developed and effective oral and written communication skills and a desire to continually improve. Your communications need to be concise, precise and clear at all times.
Excellent communication skills are not only about prepared pitches and anticipated questions. A truly great AE professional is able to think on their feet and be reactive with their communications. Some people are blessed with a silver tongue, but fear not if you sometimes find you’re more tongue-tied that have the gift of the gab; reactive, on the spot communication is a learned skill as much as a natural ability and anyone can improve with practice and honest self-evaluation.
Good AE professionals demonstrate will be effective communicators, good listeners and good at implementing and following a process, but great AE professionals are creative and develop and offer ideas. A creative account executive doesn’t simply offer a plan to a client; they are reactive and respond to the specific problems and opportunities by offering ideas and concepts to help the business grow in the right direction. Account executive jobs depend as much on creativity and ideas as they do on analytical and communication skills.
Integrity is vital for an effective AE to build relationships and develop the trust of clients and colleagues. A great AE will have the integrity and judgement negotiate the issues and relationships they will come up against in advertising and marketing. You will need to take responsibility for decisions and resolve issues as they arise.
If you think you’ve got the personal and professional qualities to make an excellent account executive you will be rewarded by a challenging and exciting career in an ever changing and evolving environment.
James Anderson is a Freelance Copywriter specializing in advertising and careers.