An account executive is the anchor of all your software sales operations. An AE manages the entire sales process – all the way from discovery calls to negotiating and closing deals – while also keeping your customer base happy and engaged.
Want to know how to hire an account executive? Let’s dive right in!
Not every scaleup is ready to take on an account executive. Before you make any rash decisions, it’s vital to ask yourself 2 questions:
Do we have enough customers and lead generation? An AE’s primary role is to manage an already-existing base, so if you’re still searching for customers, it might be better to hire a sales development representative.
Is our budget sufficient? According to David Rogg, Founder of Reformation Partners and former Vice President at FirstMark Capital, most companies consider the $1M ARR milestone as the right time to begin hiring AEs.
Naturally, the next step is to post on a job board. Your job spec should include the usual elements, but don’t just focus on the basics – feel free to give it your own flair!
Alright, now that we’ve ticked off the essentials, it’s time to add some personality. Let’s take Fountain as an example – their job ad on Y Combinator says at the end:
“Even if you do not meet all the requirements above, we still encourage you to apply for this position. While we try to be thorough with our prerequisites, not everything about you as a candidate can be condensed into a list of bullet points.”
This angle adds humanity to the job ad, encouraging applicants to click on Apply even if they don’t meet every single criterion.
And what does that mean for you?
A larger pool of applicants. Always a plus!
Let’s circle back to Fountain:
“We welcome applicants of any educational background, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, disability, and veteran status.”
Finally, don’t forget to keep your employer brand up to shape. You might be vetting your candidate, but the candidate is also vetting you.
Guess what the three primary soft skills of an amazing AE are.
Alright, here’s the answer:
Given the fact that account executives are responsible for managing client relationships and negotiating deals, this makes complete sense.
But unlike when you’re testing software engineers – who can do a coding task that demonstrates their aptitude pretty clearly – soft skills are a bit more difficult to evaluate.
No need to worry, though.
Assessing your candidate’s skills can be done by asking situational questions (what would you do if…), roleplaying scenarios (imagine I’m a customer…), or asking them to so a presentation. As long as the task reflects real-world on the job scenarios they will likely face.
Congratulations, you now have a shortlist of candidates!
Moving on to the dealbreaker – interviews. Since you’re interviewing for an AE role, it’s vital that your candidate knows how to manage an entire sales operation while also thriving on details.
For instance, they should be able to keep your whole sales process optimized while knowing how to send just the right follow-up emails with just the right wording when needed.
To minimise any unconscious bias, we recommend you use structured interviews. Ask each candidate the same set of questions and evaluate them on pre-set criteria.
As for making your final decision, it’s a great idea to engage your team and let them in on the hiring process. This not only mitigates bias but also promotes engagement within your company.
And that’s how you hire an account executive! Easy peasy, no? :)
Keep in mind that AEs are often hired in the later stages of building a business – first, you’ve got to create an amazing product and build a customer base.
Then…let your new account executive work their magic.
Move's TAaaS ('Talent Acquisition-as-a-Service') model ensures you get it right when you most need to. As an embedded recruitment company, we’re experts at securing top talent that thrives in early-stage tech businesses. Similar to top recruitment agencies in London, we have an amazing network of candidates - but, unlike them, we work on a fixed cost basis, which means we’re typically 63% less expensive than traditional recruitment agencies. Think RPO recruitment with better bedside manner 🥳
Plus, we’ll set you up for hiring success so you can do it without us in the future. No long contracts. Guaranteed hires. Don't take our word for it, check out our testimonials page.
The average base pay for an account executive in the UK is £36,016 per annum as reported by Glassdoor.
An account executive (AE) is in charge of the sales process. Unlike sales development representatives who generate leads and look for new clients, account executives primarily manage an already-existing customer base and negotiate and close deals.
Ask a mix of operational and behavioural questions. Operational: How familiar are you with CRM tools? Behavioural: Describe one of your past accomplishments and what you’ve learned from the experience.