Account Executive vs. Account Manager: What’s the Difference? (2023)

A business’s success often comes down to its most human elements: its staff and how they build relationships with the world beyond the office. Creating professional relationships and ensuring positive brand association is one of the most powerful factors in determining the success of all businesses, from mom-and-pop shops to international conglomerates.

Account Executive vs. Account Manager: What’s the Difference? (1)

Behind the scenes are account executives and account managers, two vital positions that establish and maintain partnerships with clients, ensuring all parties’ needs are met and that relationships are mutually beneficial. There are many ways in which these relationships are established and maintained. Account executives often attend networking meetings, events, and conferences to engage with prospective business partners. They learn about a business’s needs and challenges, and propose their company’s services as a solution. When the parties agree to work together, the account executive signs the business as a new client and develops a contract. Then the client is introduced to the account manager, who will maintain the business relationship over the long term, upgrading, modifying, and managing the provided services as the business grows and evolves.

With excellent communication skills and interpersonal abilities, account executives and account managers establish and maintain the relationships at the heart of all businesses. Want to learn more about these two positions? Keep reading to explore the similarities and differences in account executives vs. account managers and learn how you can step into one of these vital roles.

(Video) Account Executives vs Account Managers

Account Executive Overview

Account executives are a critical link between companies and their customers. They work in all sorts of industries, from advertising agencies and pharmaceutical manufacturers to public relations firms and radio stations. Their primary responsibility is to build relationships with new clients while helping to cultivate relationships with existing ones. They are the primary point of contact for prospective clients, offering them guidance while simultaneously assessing their needs and making sure they can be met. They might create media pitches, reach out to social media influencers, provide product samples for editorial promos, organize promotional events, and more.

It’s vital that account executives be able to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing. For this reason, many aspiring account executives begin by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication. In Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Communication program, for example, students develop important skills, including writing for a variety of purposes, strategic planning, and keen attention to detail, as well as further develop their creativity and interpersonal collaborative abilities. In addition to earning an undergraduate degree, most professionals work in related fields to gain real-world experience in communication and negotiation before stepping into an account executive role.

Account Manager Overview

Account executives and account managers have many similarities in terms of skill sets, educational backgrounds, and, at times, even daily responsibilities. However, these two positions remain distinct. Account managers are the liaison between a business and its existing clients. They’re part salesperson and part customer service representative, overseeing the relationships a business has with partners and striving to grow them over time. They may monitor budgets, explain cost factors to clients, and negotiate new terms as necessary.

Since account managers juggle many clients, they must be detail-oriented and able to multitask and manage priorities according to company and client needs. They also must have good communication skills to delegate tasks as necessary. Similar to account executives, account managers often begin by pursuing an undergraduate degree in communication, marketing, or business. After gaining some experience, often in an entry-level sales position, they can apply for account manager positions.

Salaries and Job Outlook for Account Executives and Account Manager

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t keep data related specifically to account executives or account managers. It does, however, track employment rates, job growth, and median salaries for the related positions of sales manager and advertising, promotions, and marketing manager. Data from 2018 indicates the median annual salary for sales managers was $124,220, and advertising, promotions, and marketing managers earned a median annual salary of $132,620. Individuals in the latter position can expect to see a job market growth of 8% from 2018 to 2028, while sales managers will see a 5% growth, in line with the national growth rate for all jobs.

Statistics from PayScale indicate that the median pay for account executives in the United States was $53,000 and account managers in the United States was $54,000 annually as of December 2019.

(Video) Sales Process Explained Account Executive, Business Development, Account Manager & Sales Consultant

Similarities Between Account Executives and Account Managers

Account executives and account managers create and manage the professional relationships that drive business success. For this reason, there are many overlaps in their skill sets. Both professionals exist in a multitude of industries, such as finance, retail, and advertising. They need great interpersonal skills that they put to work understanding their clients’ needs while ensuring expectations stay reasonable. With backgrounds in marketing, communications, or business, both aspiring account executives and account managers are ready to pursue entry-level jobs, eventually working their way up to higher-level positions.

Differences Between Account Executives and Account Managers

Despite a number of similarities, there are also important differences between account executives and account managers to note. These include the day-to-day job duties in each position, as well as some of the specific skills required to perform them successfully.

Job Duties

Account executives aim to make connections with new clients through networking events, research, sales calls and visits, and other promotional tactics. Their primary responsibility is to employ sales strategies and psychology principles to forge relationships with new clients and earn their business. For this reason, their daily tasks often involve networking and promotion.

Account managers handle clients who are already signed on to work with the company, ensuring the relationship remains beneficial for both parties. This may involve renegotiating contracts, communicating with other departments to ensure deliverables are high-quality and on schedule, and confirming that both the business and the client are able to meet the terms of their agreement. As such, they spend most of their time in an office setting, connecting with clients through email and by phone or visiting clients.

Job Skills

To fulfill their different responsibilities, account executives and account managers must have specific skills. While both must have good interpersonal skills, the role of account executive requires extensive knowledge of sales tactics and the psychology of sales. They use these skills, coupled with interpersonal communication, to land new clients.

Account managers don’t develop new accounts but rather maintain and nurture existing ones. While they need interpersonal skills, too, it’s just as important that they be able to manage their time to serve their clients well.

(Video) What Is An Account Manager

Account Executive vs. Account Manager: Which Is Right for You?

Are you eager to help businesses succeed by connecting with clients and helping them reach their goals? Positions such as account executive and account manager are well suited for individuals interested in connecting with others through conversation, email, and written proposals. Both positions help businesses in every industry get ahead on their goals and achieve their missions.

Are you interested in meeting new people, attending network events, and making introductions that leave a lasting impression? If so, you may prefer an account executive’s role. On the other hand, if nurturing mutually beneficial relationships over the course of several years appeals to you, you may be happier as an account manager. Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Communication can help you develop the communication skills and business savvy you need to succeed in either position. Find out more about how this degree can help you achieve your professional goals.

Recommended Readings
Effective Business Communication for Millennials and Gen Z

Future Communication Trends: An In-Depth Look

The Future of Media: Concepts and Trends for Communication Professionals

Sources:
Ad Age, “The Case of the Curious Octopus: The Evolution of the Account Manager”

(Video) Sales Organization Explained: Account Executive, Account Manager, Sales & Business Development

Houston Chronicle, “The Roles of a Retail Account Manager”

IBIS World, “Fastest Growing Industries in the U.S. by Revenue Growth in 2019”

Maryville University, Online Bachelor of Arts in Communication

MediaBistro, “What Does An Account Executive Do?”

PayScale, Average Account Executive Salary

PayScale, Average Account Manager Salary

(Video) 3 Most Important Skills In Sales - Business Development, Account Executive & Account Manager

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Sales Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Sales Occupations

FAQs

Is account executive same as account manager? ›

Both roles manage client accounts and relationships, but an account executive has to bring in new clients. Account managers are responsible for maintaining accounts and client relationships after the sale has been made and clients onboarded.

Who gets paid more an account executive or an account manager? ›

Account Executives often have more experience or education, so their salaries tend to be higher than account managers.

Whats the difference between a sales executive and account manager? ›

Account managers nurture and grow client accounts. They check in on customers, serve as main point of contact, and handle upsells and contract renewals when appropriate. Account executives generally hold pre-sale roles prospecting, presenting, and closing initial client deals.

What is the biggest challenge in account manager? ›

The 7 Biggest Challenges Account Managers face while making Account Plans
  • The eternal tug-of-war between short-term and long-term. ...
  • Having access to an effective strategic planning tool. ...
  • Having a good relationship with all key customers (other than that one key customer) within each Strategic Account.
5 Nov 2019

What level is account executive? ›

An account executive is considered a lower-level position in the business sales profession. Although very important, the position of account executive ranks near the bottom of the business sales hierarchy.

What is the role of account executive? ›

An Account Executive is someone who can work in many fields and help grow their companies by finding leads and closing sales deals with existing clients or new prospects. They also act as intermediaries between other departments within an organization to ensure the success of their clients.

What is the next step after account manager? ›

Effective account managers may advance on to a senior account manager or account director position, which involves overseeing several account managers. From there, some become a director of account services—a high-level role overseeing an organization's entire account management department.

Is being an account executive stressful? ›

Advertising Account Executive

The work requires a high-level of creativity, attention to detail and self-motivation, all while under strict deadlines. In this cut-throat industry, competition is fierce leading to emotional and mental stress. The long and irregular hours can be taxing as well.

Is account manager a high-level job? ›

An account manager is an entry- to mid-level employee who is responsible for the day-to-day management of a particular customer's account within a business. An account manager is often more interested in the client satisfaction aspect of a business relationship instead of explicitly trying to generating sales.

Who does an account manager report to? ›

Account managers usually report directly to the account director or agency director of the activity and status of accounts and transactions. An account manager may also manage a single account or a variety of accounts depending on the requirement of the company.

What skills do you need to be an account executive? ›

Account Executive Essential Skills
  • Communication Skills.
  • High Empathy.
  • Organization.
  • Problem Solving.
  • Negotiation.
  • Determination.
  • Goal-oriented.
  • Presentation Skills.

What makes a good account executive? ›

A great AE knows how to take an easy-going and personable tone on a demo call while still being knowledgable about the product and able to answer prospects' questions. They should also know how to handle objections and concerns, and negotiate price without being too aggressive or, conversely, too deferential.

What makes a bad account manager? ›

Bad key account managers waste time on unproductive tasks. Their activities don't align with their client's objectives. They're distracted when they should focus on how they can help clients succeed. They work on what's next, not what's most important.

Is account manager a difficult job? ›

Challenges in Account Management

Key Account Managers have a difficult job. They're inundated with contacts, contracts, and more. They're under pressure to please both their clients and their C-suite.

What is it like working as an account manager? ›

Account management responsibilities include developing strong relationships with customers, connecting with key business executives and stakeholders and preparing sales reports. Account Managers also answer client queries and identify new business opportunities among existing customers.

Is account manager better than account executive? ›

Which position is higher ranking: account manager or account executive? Account managers and account executives are often equal within a company's hierarchy. The positions usually require similar training, education and skillsets, so one is not necessarily higher ranking than the other.

What should I do after account executive? ›

Most Common Jobs For Former ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES
  1. Account Manager.
  2. Sales Representative.
  3. Senior Account Executive.
  4. Sales Manager.
  5. Business Developer.
  6. Business Development Manager.
  7. Vice President.
  8. Director Of Sales.
13 Jul 2022

Is account executive easy? ›

Account Executives also need to be very hard working. Sales can be a competitive profession, and hard work is one sure way to stay a step ahead of the rest.

How do you interview an account executive? ›

6 Account Executive Interview Questions I Ask Every Time
  1. Can you describe to me your current/former role, your responsibilities, and how success is/was measured? ...
  2. What is your proudest accomplishment? ...
  3. Knowing what you know now, walk me through what you would do differently to drive even more success?

Can you be an account executive without experience? ›

Most account executive roles require a Bachelor's degree in business, marketing, sales, or a related field. Previous experience working in client-facing roles can help as well. Most companies look for 2-3 years of experience interning or in a related field for entry-level roles.

Is an account executive a leadership role? ›

Account Executives often serve in a leadership role for their company by communicating deadlines, requirements and other client goals to other employees. They collaborate closely with clients to help them fully understand the services they offer and the work the client needs completed.

What's another title for account manager? ›

What is another word for account manager?
account executiverelationship manager
global account managerkey account manager
national account manager

How many clients should an account manager have? ›

Focused Role: If someone is solely an Account Manager (that is, they aren't also doing fulfillment), they can typically handle 4-8 accounts. If someone is solely a Strategist (that is, they aren't also a day-to-day client contact), they can handle 8-12 clients.

What does an account manager earn? ›

Account Manager Salaries in London Area

The average salary for Account Manager is £39,246 per year in the London Area. The average additional cash compensation for a Account Manager in the London Area is £10,016, with a range from £1,921 - £52,226.

What is the average age of an account executive? ›

The average age of an employed account executive is 43 years old. The most common ethnicity of account executives is White (71.6%), followed by Hispanic or Latino (15.1%) and Black or African American (6.5%). Account executives are most in-demand in New York, NY.

Is it worth being an account executive? ›

Yes, being an account executive is a good job.

An account executive works mostly in sales but can cover a wide range of roles, including; sales, advertising, marketing, and finance. An account executive is a good job for individuals who are naturally "social butterflies" with high energy and excellent people skills.

Do account executives work long hours? ›

Most account executives work full-time, 8am to 5pm. However, they may be expected to come in early for clients in different time zones or work late to meet strict deadlines. The higher up an account executive is or the more important their accounts, the more hours they typically work.

What is the qualification of account manager? ›

You can start your career as an Account Manager by completing a bachelor's degree in sales management or operations management. After that, you can apply for a job in your desired field.

Is account manager a good career? ›

Because it's so diverse and varied, account management is seen as quite a desirable career. It also comes with opportunities to progress through different roles, often with a very clear career path mapped out.

What does an account manager do on a daily basis? ›

Account managers have different tasks on a day-to-day basis. They need to schedule meetings, talk to clients, visit specific locations and more. This makes the job really exciting – but it can also be a hassle to wear multiple hats and figure out how to structure your to-do list.

Do account managers make commission? ›

Do account managers get commission? Account managers should not be commissioned for maintaining the current order volume. However, it is common for account managers to receive commission on: Account growth (incremental volume)

How do you lead an account manager? ›

Strategic account management best practices
  1. Assign dedicated strategic account managers. ...
  2. Develop selection criteria for key accounts. ...
  3. Polish the handoff from sales. ...
  4. Create a comprehensive customer profile. ...
  5. Conduct a needs assessment. ...
  6. Draft a strategic plan and proposal. ...
  7. Set a cadence for contacts, meetings, and follow-ups.

Is account management part of sales? ›

Account management is a post-sales role that focuses on nurturing client relationships. Account managers have two primary objectives: retain clients' business and grow those opportunities. They accomplish these objectives by learning what their clients' goals are and helping their clients achieve them.

Do account executives make cold calls? ›

The fact is, cold calling works. At that same company, Account Executives were expected to make 40-50 of their own cold calls every day. But many of them wouldn't. They expected the marketing and business development teams to fill their calendars with meetings.

How long does it take to be an account executive? ›

It takes 5 years of professional experience to become an account executive. That is the time it takes to learn specific account executive skills, but does not account for time spent in formal education.

Is an executive higher than a manager? ›

' A manager is the person who is responsible for the activities of a group of employees in an organization. ... In short, an executive has to oversee the administration function of the organization. An executive has a higher standing in an organization than a manager.

How do you improve your account executive skills? ›

How to improve your skills as an account executive
  1. Practice your listening and communication skills. You can have people tell you a story or about their day. ...
  2. Practice your presentation skills. ...
  3. Practice your organization and time management skills.
25 Mar 2022

How do account executives organize? ›

6 Tips For Managing Multiple Clients
  1. Get Organized. Start with yourself. ...
  2. Use a Calendar. Create a company calendar so your team knows what you're doing and when you're doing it. ...
  3. Create a Morning Routine. ...
  4. Create a Plan and Stick To It. ...
  5. Don't Be Afraid To Say No. ...
  6. Realistically Manage Client Communications.
2 Nov 2021

What are the disadvantages of key account management? ›

The Challenges of Key Account Management
  • Lack of senior management support. KAM is implemented as a sales initiative but it does not have the understanding and support of senior management. ...
  • Too many accounts. ...
  • The chosen key customers don't want it. ...
  • Lack of organisational alignment. ...
  • Customer facing support people struggle.
12 Sept 2019

What does an account manager do at an insurance company? ›

Insurance Account Manager Job Overview

Their responsibilities include responding to customer inquiries, explaining coverage and premiums, informing clients on any policy or billing changes, and facilitating the claims process between clients and the adjuster.

Why do you want to be account manager? ›

Since account management is all about satisfying a client's needs and preferences in the long run, this means an account manager will have to customise their solutions based on individual clients, which requires a high degree of initiative, flexibility, and adaptability.

What do you call a manager of account managers? ›

A Director of Account Executives manages the team that finds new business accounts. A Director of Account Management oversees the team that manages, maintains, and upsells existing accounts.

Who is above key account manager? ›

Effective account managers may advance on to a senior account manager or account director position, which involves overseeing several account managers. From there, some become a director of account services—a high-level role overseeing an organization's entire account management department.

What is the career path for an account executive? ›

Career trajectory

Account executives can eventually be promoted to senior positions, like Vice President of Business Development or Chief Operations Officer (COO). These positions involve working with high-profile clients on a case-by-case basis, but most of their time is spent improving the workflow of their company.

What is above account manager? ›

It's possible to jump into a managerial or more senior sales position from a Key Account Manager position, especially as a regional or national sales manager. Eventually, you could seek promotion to the director of sales or VP of sales position.

What is an executive account manager? ›

Executive account managers are responsible for planning, organizing, and directing operations related to account management within their company, as well as leading team members within the accounts department.

How many clients should an account manager have? ›

Focused Role: If someone is solely an Account Manager (that is, they aren't also doing fulfillment), they can typically handle 4-8 accounts. If someone is solely a Strategist (that is, they aren't also a day-to-day client contact), they can handle 8-12 clients.

Who does account manager report to? ›

Account managers usually report directly to the account director or agency director of the activity and status of accounts and transactions. An account manager may also manage a single account or a variety of accounts depending on the requirement of the company.

Is account manager a stressful job? ›

Yes, being an account manager is a stressful job.

In fact, being an account manager was ranked as the second most stressful job, with 73 percent of respondents rating the role as "highly stressful."

What should I do after account executive? ›

Most Common Jobs For Former ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES
  1. Account Manager.
  2. Sales Representative.
  3. Senior Account Executive.
  4. Sales Manager.
  5. Business Developer.
  6. Business Development Manager.
  7. Vice President.
  8. Director Of Sales.
13 Jul 2022

Can I be an account executive with no experience? ›

Most account executive roles require a Bachelor's degree in business, marketing, sales, or a related field. Previous experience working in client-facing roles can help as well. Most companies look for 2-3 years of experience interning or in a related field for entry-level roles.

What makes a great account executive? ›

Great account executives have well-defined systems. Candidates will also have systems for learning about clients' businesses, their goals, and how those goals are evaluated. Finally, learn about candidates' teamwork skills. Ask how they build and organize teams to ensure work gets done -- and done efficiently.

Is account manager better than account executive? ›

Which position is higher ranking: account manager or account executive? Account managers and account executives are often equal within a company's hierarchy. The positions usually require similar training, education and skillsets, so one is not necessarily higher ranking than the other.

Is account executive a sales job? ›

An Account Executive (AE) is a salesperson. They are usually responsible for serving the needs of existing customers and closing sales deals to create new customers. They typically have a revenue target, and are paid commissions when they sell their company's products and services.

What skills do you need to be an account manager? ›

Top 6 key account management skills
  • Communication. At the top of the list is communication. ...
  • Company and customer expertise. ...
  • Strategic perspective. ...
  • Leadership. ...
  • Skilled negotiation. ...
  • Value-based selling.

How do you interview an account executive? ›

6 Account Executive Interview Questions I Ask Every Time
  1. Can you describe to me your current/former role, your responsibilities, and how success is/was measured? ...
  2. What is your proudest accomplishment? ...
  3. Knowing what you know now, walk me through what you would do differently to drive even more success?

Should I be an account executive? ›

Is being an account executive a good career? Yes, account executives are essential to the success of multiple companies from advertising agencies to tech firms, as they develop business and manage relationships with clients. Successful account executives can earn a very healthy income by being great at what they do.

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