Every time we hire a new Account Executive (or a less senior person to be groomed for an eventual AE position), I look for a very specific set of skills and attributes. Being or becoming a great AE requires certain core aptitudes and attitudes that can be nurtured, but really can’t be taught – in my opinion, you’ve either got them, or you don’t.
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The first thing I look for in a potential AE is what I call octopus arms, which is the ability to multi-task. But I don’t mean just jumping from one thing to the next and keeping a lot of balls in the air – I mean doing so effectively, productively and with a high degree of organization and poise. A really great AE thrives on managing multiple projects at the same time, keeping the creative team as stress-free as possible, and maintaining a laser focus on creating an outstanding experience for the client. Whatever is going on behind the scenes, the best AEs always remain cool, calm and collected.
An accomplished Account Executive will seamlessly navigate the treacherous waters of giving the creative team plenty of latitude to create, while making sure the client’s objectives are being met, and keeping everything on time and on budget. It’s not easy to be the liaison between the internal team and the client, especially when the Creative Director is pushing hard for something he passionately believes is right for the client, but the AE knows the client will reject it. There is a natural tension that comes out of this dynamic almost daily, but a great AE manages everyone with fairness, and consistently finds the right balance to keep everyone invested and moving forward.
Making it Personal
The best AEs I’ve worked with treat their clients’ projects as their own, because they’re genuinely excited and passionate about what they’re helping them to achieve. (Before you read on, please hear this: I am not a workaholic. I work hard, but I also play hard. I believe in being human first, and that life comes first and work second. I’m speaking here to some of the qualities that, in my experience, have made the best Account Executives.) They check emails at all hours, stay late or come in early when needed, and never take their finger off the pulse of what’s happening in their client’s business or industry. They are always learning, growing and reaching for more – not trying to impress me or anyone else, but because it’s in their blood. They can’t not do it.
I love account service, and I’m proud to manage a team of highly professional, smart, capable account service professionals that have octopus arms, play referee, and make it personal every day. Think you might be a good fit for the AE team at MIC? Send me your resume and cover letter: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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