As an account executive, how many times have you dreaded making a sales call, wondering if the prospect really wanted to hear from you? Sales is a tough job, but it can also be very rewarding.
The latest surveys and research indicates that customer experience is the most significant differentiator these days. Customers expect their experience with a company to include Nordstrom-level service. As an account executive (AE), you are the main line of communication between a prospect and the brand you represent.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of account executive tips to help you when developing customer relationships.
1. Be Competitively Optimistic
People in sales are notoriously competitive. There’s nothing wrong with that — it’s a big part of why we’re successful at what we do! One thing that competitive people have in common is the belief that they can — and will — win. That’s called optimism, and you can’t win without it.
Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi believed this was the key to success:
“You’ve got to be smart to be number one in any business. But more importantly, you’ve got to play with your heart, with every fiber of your body. If you’re lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he’s never going to come off the field second.”
– Vince Lombardi
Business is no different than sports in that they’re both driven by healthy competition. Like football players, that competitive optimism is what enables AEs to be resilient, come back with alternative solutions, and always be working towards a win. Don’t stop believin’!
2. Be Personable
People don’t buy from businesses; they buy from people they like. As an AE, you are your company’s link to customers. No pressure, right?
Really though — this is the most fun part of sales (aside from winning, that is). Using LinkedIn Navigator, you can learn all sorts of things about your prospect. Mention the baseball game last night, ask about a recent trip, extract a funny story about their kid — anything! Get someone talking about themselves and they’ll walk away from the conversation thinking it’s the best meeting they’ve ever had.
Don’t just save your personality for meetings. Check out the personalization of this email – the prospect can’t help but respond! Take your time with your top-tier prospects when crafting communications and save the standard messages for lower-tier buyers.
3. Be Responsive
Being responsive is one of the easiest things you can do to strengthen a relationship, yet so many of us have gotten distracted and forgotten a follow-up. We know you’re busy. We are too! Your customers don’t need to know that though. Get the simple things right and follow up ASAP.
Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes. When you don’t get a response to your inquiries, you probably view it as terrible customer service. It doesn’t matter that your contact didn’t sleep well, had five meetings before noon, and is taking 5 minutes to scarf down a granola bar at their desk. You don’t see that. All you see is an email with no reply.
People remember subpar service. Don’t wait a day to respond. If you don’t have an answer, at least acknowledge the issue and relay that you’re working on it. Do the small things. It won’t go unnoticed.
4. Be Consultative
This is one of the most critical account executive responsibilities. You have to show buyers that you know what you’re talking about. The trick is to be consultative without sounding like a know-it-all. LinkedIn Influencer Tom Boston uses humor to showcase his sales knowledge. When he shares a meme talking about forecasting a deal he knows won’t close, he is not only getting a laugh, but his follows feel like “he gets them.” If they need a sales engagement solution, they’re likely to reach out.
Consultative selling takes it a step further. It is is simply about identifying a prospect’s needs and helping them get to a solution. Rather than focusing on making the perfect sales pitch, focus on having a meaningful dialogue with your prospect. This is the way you’ll learn how you specifically can offer a solution.
5. Follow Up Effectively
How often have you presented and closed a deal the same day? Those unicorn deals typically don’t happen. The buyer usually needs to bring the deal back to their team, pitch it to their CEO, and/or run it by finance. All of that takes time. If you try to rush the buyer through it, you could lose the deal.
Patience is typically not one of a salesperson’s many talents. While you’re waiting for the “yes,” work on finding creative ways to add value and stay top of mind. Engaged accounts have a win rate that is eight times higher than accounts with low engagement. Have trouble remembering to follow up? Rely on AI to trigger notifications when it has been a certain number of days since you’ve logged an activity with an account, thus surfacing a potential deal gap. Or you can add the prospect to an automated workflow (at Salesloft we call it a cadence) to make sure you keep the communication flowing.
All that work you did previously asking questions and learning about issues that affect their business can be used in the follow-up. It’s an extension of your consultative selling process. Here are some follow-up email templates to try out.
Looking to step up your game? Check out this list of 5 ways to be a successful #AccountExecutive in a customer-focused business environment.
Think a sales engagement platform might increase your success? See Salesloft in action.
For more tips on how to become a good account executive, check out our eBook Best Practices of Top-Performing Sellers: Habits to Help You Exceed Your Goals.