Account Executive

What is an account manager?

An account executive is an employee who is primarily responsible for an ongoing business relationship with a customer.

Account executives are most commonly found in advertising, public relations, and financial services. Additionally, technology companies that provide hardware and software support services assign account managers to large customers.

Key points to remember

  • Account executives work in many industries, but they are most commonly found in advertising, public relations, and financial services.
  • The job may involve working for a single or multiple clients.
  • Compensation typically includes a base salary, sales commission, and bonuses for exceeding goals.

Understand the account manager role

An account manager is the main contact between a supplier and a customer. The account manager is generally present from the start of the business relationship. After initiating the deal and negotiating the contract, they are then responsible for fulfilling the terms of the contract and satisfying the customer.

An account manager may also contact a customer to introduce new products and services. This may involve arranging for technical, design, and other support personnel to travel to the customer to perform demonstrations and assist with the sales pitch.

Account manager compensation is typically a base salary with sales commission and bonuses for meeting or exceeding sales goals. In August 2022, the average base salary for the job was $61,516 in the United States, according to

Account Manager Responsibilities

Account manager duties may include:

  • Negotiate with clients and conclude contracts
  • Meet customer needs and develop relationships
  • Acquire more customers through prospecting and canvassing
  • Coordinate internal account tasks to ensure customers receive products and services
  • Assist new clients through all processes

Account executives are generally expected to bring in new business and often receive annual quotas. They may also be assigned customers by the company and are also generally required to stay in regular contact with customers to keep lines of communication open.

In some cases, customers may be deemed so important to the business that they are the only customer to whom an account manager is assigned. Other account executives may have multiple customers to prioritize based on their importance to the business.

Across various industries, account executives can manage a bank’s cybersecurity hardware and software needs, a hospital group’s pharmaceutical needs, a private client’s wealth management needs, or prime brokerage service requirements of a hedge fund.


In the financial sector, account managers must follow the ethical guidelines of regulatory authorities. For example, financial account managers should follow Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Rule 3220, applicable to brokers and investment advisorswhich limits the payment of gifts and gratuities.

Skills needed to be an account manager

Most account executives have an undergraduate degree in business administration, communications, or another related degree program. They also have a wide range of skills and in-depth knowledge of the industry in which they work. Skills needed include:

  • Negotiation techniques: Account executives must be adept at handling concerns and negotiating with customers to maintain relationships.
  • Sales skills: Accounts will have turnover, so an account executive must be able to prospect new customers and sell services to them while continuing the sales process with existing customers.
  • Project management skills: Account managers may have multiple accounts to manage, so they need to understand how to move projects forward.
  • Personal skills: Account managers must have excellent interpersonal skills enabling them to work with various internal departments and clients.
  • Analytical skills: As account executives become more experienced, they can be expected to analyze industry data and trends to help their teams.

Account Manager vs Account Manager

You will often hear account manager and account manager used interchangeably. However, there is a distinct difference. Both roles manage customer accounts and relationships, but an account manager must attract new customers.

Account Managers are responsible for maintaining accounts and customer relationships after the sale is completed and customers are onboarded.

Is the account manager a senior position?

The hierarchical level of an account manager in an organization depends on the business and how it is structured. Some account managers hold management positions and have sales representatives and account managers working for them. Others might work for more experienced account managers.

Is Account Manager a good career?

Account managers develop and maintain relationships between companies. Being an account executive can be a very rewarding career if you enjoy talking to people, solving problems, negotiating terms and managing multiple projects.

Is being an account manager a stressful job?

Like many jobs, account executives deal with the pressures of deadlines, sales quotas, relationships, and general job stress.

The essential

An account manager is the primary person responsible for establishing and maintaining customer relationships. Most account executives work in advertising, public relations, financial services, and technology companies that rely on business-to-business relationships.

Account executives negotiate contracts, conduct presentations and sales calls, recruit clients, and guide new and existing clients through buying processes. It’s a rewarding career for someone who enjoys talking to people, solving problems and building relationships.

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