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5 Traits of a Great Account Executive

Brandon

October 13, 2015
Brandon

One of my favorite characteristics of a full-service advertising agency is the dynamic personality base that makes up each department. Just like high school stereotypes, there are stereotypes associated with each group. I commonly hear “the creatives are laid back and always late” or “the account managers all have type A personalities,” but that is not always the case. As an Account Executive, in addition to client communication, I work with the social media team, the media team, the development team, and the creative team on a daily basis. Getting to know how each group works and responds in different situations plays a huge role in the success of our agency. Here are 5 traits that every great Account Executive should embody to maintain the success of an agency and their clients:

 

1. They ask questions
Above all else, there is no substitute for competence. A good AE is knowledgeable and has the ability to understand the goals and priorities of the client. They know the industry and the company’s product or service like the back of their hand and can speak to the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that come along with these services. They know the value of the client’s business and in turn, can strategize ways to effectively communicate the value to the marketplace. However, part of this knowledge comes from being able to ask the important questions. While a good AE might possess this knowledge, a great AE is not afraid to continually ask questions to learn more. By refusing to admit that they don’t know everything, they are remaining stagnant by failing to realize that every situation is unique and there are different solutions to various problems and pain points.

 
2. They over-communicate
Part of asking the right questions is getting and understanding the answers. The majority of client communication takes place over the phone or via email. Making the most of these communication efforts will result in a greater understanding of what the client wants and gives the client a better understanding of what you are trying to accomplish. Regular status reports and clearly articulated emails are a huge part of creating this two-way understanding, which can then be communicated to the production team. While status reports are a great way to maintain communication and understanding with clients, creative briefs are an essential part of helping the creative and production team have a clear view of what to accomplish, how to accomplish, and when to accomplish goals. Including every detail in these briefs, in addition to enthusiasm, will add value to the project and lead to a greater and more efficient outcome.

 
3. They are understanding
Although effectively communicating timing is a huge part of being a great AE, understanding the work load that the creative and development team may have is extremely important. I often hear “Account Executives think that their client is the most important”, which, honestly, is true! However, being able to work around the schedules of the creative team to ensure accurate and timely deliverables is necessary to achieve success.

 
4. They are organized
Agency environments are fast-paced and a new project can arise at any time. In addition to keeping track of each deliverable and organizing in terms of timely importance, organization in delegating these projects and communicating them to the creative and development team is also important. One Account Executive may work on multiple clients at a time (personally, I work on 5), but each client should feel like he or is she their only client. While status reports are necessary to keep track of each project, its status, and next steps, keeping documents organized digitally and physically is a must. Labeling folders and maintaining subfolders digitally is a great way to be able to locate documents at any time. Furthermore, keeping a backup of these documents is extremely important in the case of a computer crash. PPI keeps our documents backed up on the cloud so that we are able to access them at anytime from anywhere.

 
5. Ambition
Account Executives are generally ambitious in nature, which translates into results. The world of business is driven by healthy competition, so having this competitive optimism leads AEs to overcome disappointment, rebound with new solutions, and always strive for success. This ambition keeps team spirit up and provides direction, enthusiasm, and confidence around all objectives.

 
At Princeton Partners, we may fulfill the various stereotypes of the different departments to an extent, but the dynamic personalities are what make us a family that works together. A huge part of being an Account Executive is managing these different personalities and work styles to ask the right questions, maintain communication, be understanding, stay organized, and be ambitious to achieve the greatest success for their clients and for their agency.