What Does An Enterprise Account Executive Do?
An Enterprise Account Executive (EAEs) is responsible for making sales and managing relationships with their organization’s largest and most important clients. Their ultimate goal is to help these high-paying clients solve their problems with the solution they sell.
EAE’s jobs have two components. First, they spend time strategizing on how to open up and sell accounts. Second, they spend time actively selling those accounts, through in-person meetings, phone calls, and web-demos.
They are the evolution of an account executive, taking on larger deals – often six figures+. Additionally, their deals have longer sales cycles, more decision-makers, and more complex implementation processes.
Because of these complexities, Enterprise Account Executives have to take more strategic approaches, which they develop themselves, to win new business.
Responsibilities Of An Enterprise Account Executive
Enterprise Account Executives spend more time planning than Account Executives, due to the complexity of the sale and the importance of the relationships with the companies they target.
Here are their responsibilities broken into the 2 parts of their jobs: planning and selling.
Planning / Strategizing
- Find decision-makers and strategize how to form relationships with them.
- Work with account managers to locate upsell opportunities.
- Find creative ways into the largest prospect accounts.
- Thoroughly research their prospects to understand their goals, strategies, initiatives, etc.
- Forecast revenue.
Selling / Forming Relationships
- Build and maintain relationships with decision-makers at large companies.
- Demonstrate excellent product knowledge through demos and presentations.
- Serve as the client’s internal champion. Make sure the product team is making necessary customizations for the client.
- Sell to C-Suite Executives.
- Manage deals upwards of seven figures.
That’s a lot to do, so it makes sense that Enterprise Account Executives don’t have as many accounts in their pipelines as lower-tier sales reps.
They are hunting for whales, and landing even one of their large accounts can get them to their revenue targets.
Longer Sales Cycles
Each of their accounts requires a lot of attention. Different decision-makers want demos or presentations, and there are always lots of questions and objections since it’s going to be a high price point for the customer.
The rep also needs to develop a deep understanding of the prospect’s needs and pain points, current systems and operations, and budgetary constraints. A thorough understanding of their prospect is key to not only navigating the business but having productive conversations. Using a 10-K for sales research can be quite helpful
This all leads to longer sales cycles, lasting anywhere from 6 months to 2+ years.
Here’s an example of an enterprise sale, to demonstrate why it takes so long.
Let’s say an Enterprise Account Executive at a proptech company is trying to sell some software to a property management company with over 350,000 units and 2,000 employees – a deal size of about $350,000 per year.
He/she has a lot of work to do. First, they are going to have to find a way into the account. Maybe that’s through a referral from someone in their network (that’s the best way), cold outreach, or a networking event. They can even get creative and use Twitter.
No matter which method is used, it’s going to be tough to get a meeting with one of the C-Suite Executives at the company, since they’re probably swamped with more pressing matters.
Once they do book a meeting, they are still at the beginning of the sale. The EAE will have to spend a ton of time learning about the company and its inner workings. Also, the account will have multiple decision-makers with different opinions about the solution.
Lastly, these larger companies usually have processes in place which make it harder to introduce new software into the mix without screwing everything up. The larger the company, the slower they usually move.
For instance, maybe the company already uses another software with overlapping functions that might require double data entry or confusion. If the EAE’s software doesn’t integrate, that might be a deal-killer. So, the EAE might have to ask the product team to work on an integration, to keep moving the deal forward.
Then, over the next couple of months, the EAE is going to spend a lot of time working with the decision-makers from different departments of the company to figure out how to overcome obstacles, until finally, they come to an agreement on the sale.
And if they successfully make the sale, the job isn’t done. Over that time, the Enterprise Account Executive has made serious relationships with the decision-makers and influencers at the company. So, in the future they will be expected to make upsells and, whether they like it or not, serve as account managers for the company, even if those duties technically belong to an account management team.
Life Of An Enterprise Account Executive
The life of an Enterprise Account Executive is pretty sweet if you like sales. You will receive a great salary and benefits, plenty of respect, and meaningful relationships with the movers and shakers of your target market industry. Plus, you’ll get the daily satisfaction of solving difficult problems for large, often influential organizations.
Salary For An Enterprise Account Executive
According to Glassdoor, the average base salary of an Enterprise Account Executive is $77,208/yr.
The average additional compensation (commission, bonuses, revenue sharing, etc.) is $84,408/yr.
Add those together, and the average OTE (on-target earnings) of Enterprise Account Executives is $161,616.
Now, the payout depends on which industry you work in. So, here’s a table of salary broken down by industry according to Glassdoor’s data.
Avg. Yearly Salary for Enterprise Account Executives by Industry
|Industry||Avg. Base Salary||Avg. Additional Compensation||Avg. OTE|
|Marketing and Advertising||
|Banking and Finance||
|Biotech and Pharmaceuticals||
|Energy and Utilities||$84,902||$91,592||$176,494|
As you can see, all industries pay their EAEs well. However, if you want to make the most money possible, working in the computer software industry for a B2B SaaS company, might be your best bet. The average OTE in the SaaS space is $181,210.
For example, Salesforce’s average OTE for their Enterprise Account Executives is 240k!
Alright, they’re getting paid a lot, how about their work/life balance. Do they have any?
Enterprise Account Executive Work/Life Balance?
Well, yes and no, depending on the person. Some Enterprise Account Executive’s work 55+ hour weeks to hit their numbers, especially if the economy isn’t doing well or they are struggling. Others will work 40 hour weeks and still make loads of money, or a little less (still a lot).
It depends on their values. Any sales job can take up your entire life if you let it. You can work 15 hour days like Gary V if you want to. There are always people to call and or companies to research.
But during these times, when most Enterprise Account Executives are working from home due to COVID-19, they can set up their schedules to work as effectively as possible.
They are also free to choose their values. If they have a big meeting in the morning, they have the flexibility to hang out with their friends or family in the afternoon.
These types of breaks are critical because EAEs need to get work/life balance to avoid sales burnout.
Overall, if you like sales, it would make sense to strive to be an Enterprise Account Executive, where you have more autonomy and the pay is better than when you were an AE or a BDR.
How To Become An Enterprise Account Executive
First, you’re going to need some general qualifications and traits.
Enterprise Account Executive Qualifications
- 5+ years of sales experience
- Familiarity with consultative sales
- Outside sales experience
- Experience with the industry you’re selling into
- A strong network to leverage (contacts in the space)
- Experience doing cold outreach and building pipelines
- Hunter mentality
- Familiarity with sales tools
- Relationship management skills
If you have some of the above, great start. Here are some more tips for working your way up to an Enterprise Account Executive role.
- Get Promoted At Your Current Company
A lot of Enterprise Account Executives were once Account Executives, Sales Directors, or Account Managers at their current companies.
That’s because companies tend to favor promoting from within rather than hiring externally for the position, especially in the SaaS space.
So, you’re going to need to prove yourself at your current company by consistently hitting or overachieving your quota.
2. Get Some Sales Strategy Experience
If you can show your employer that you have great strategy skills in sales, you can get the promotion to EAE.
Try your hand at another role in the company which requires you to plan and develop strategies to hit revenue targets. For example, you could spend half a year as an Enterprise BDR manager to demonstrate your ability to open enterprise accounts strategically. Here’s a helpful read on how to book more meetings.
Or, you could team up with your Enterprise Account Executive and work with them to strategize on how to close a certain account. Also, shadow them in meetings. You’ll learn a lot in the process. A lot of enterprise deals involve public companies so you should familiarize yourself on how to use earnings calls.
3. Leverage Your Relationships
If you have a lot of contacts in a certain industry, you are going to be highly desirable. Companies that want to sell into that network will want you on their team, and you can use that desire as leverage to win an EAE role at another company.
And of course, spend time talking with sales professionals at companies you are interested in working for.
If you’re currently in a sales position and interested in leveling up to the Enterprise Account Executive, use the tips above while also making your aspirations clear to your manager.
They can help you design a plan to pick up the skills essential to becoming a successful EAE.
If you’re not sure you want to be an enterprise account executive, check out what being in sales enablement is like.