When you think of the word salesperson, account executive, account manager, sales representative etc., what comes to mind? Pushy? Dishonest?
Maybe it’s far more specific and filled with vitriol like “he’s no better than a smarmy dirtball, peddling something I definitely don’t need.” Hyperbole aside, and regardless of the exact phrasing, I think we can agree the view is pretty dim.
So let’s try and get to the heart of this stigma, prove the rumors aren’t true, and highlight why your account lead is your biggest ally at a digital agency.
Dispelling the Negativity
Let’s be honest, there isn’t a company in the world that says “sales are happening, that’s bad.” Inherently, the word “sales” is very positive. Products and services are successful; revenue is generated. A customer is served and a business grows. While that is without a doubt a simplistic, 10,000-foot view of a much more complicated process, the concept rings true.
But add a “person” to the end of the word sales and all of a sudden the positivity gets sucked out of the room faster than I can say hello. The obvious contradiction here is this: every person and every business sells. In fact, in a good agency, every position is responsible for it.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the way a lot of people bought into the notion that being intentionally persuasive cheapens your cause. Selling is definitely intentional, but that does not mean it’s insincere.
For example, the creative director may sell you on why his department is the best fit to develop or improve your brand; the marketing strategist on the function of the marketing channels they’re recommending for your next campaign and why they’re the best ones to execute. The developer could be elaborating on why a specific content management platform was chosen, and the executive team is framing why the company as a whole is a perfect fit for a partnership.
So what does a great account lead do? All of that.
My Versatility, Your Win
Since we’re speeding away from negative town, let’s turn our attention to what a well-oiled account executive actually does. We’re your jack of all trades, but unlike the old saying, we can be masters of something as well.
It all boils down to versatility. We’re part strategist, part project manager, and sometimes even part front-end developer. Throw in a dash of accounting, and it’s starting to come together. Because our eyes are constantly fixed on the big picture (aka the success of your business), we become a confidante, and an all-around extension of your team. By focusing on the relationship and most importantly the future, a great account lead is always thinking 3 steps ahead.
Let’s say we’ve just agreed to develop a new website. Great! Now I’m two months into the future and already planning for the next phase. The inner workings of an account lead’s mind stretch well beyond the here and now.
I’m constantly asking questions about the future because businesses are not built on a single project, but rather the integration between many projects at once, whether completed or in progress. The digital world is fundamentally integrated and it’s my job to always see those connections. I’m making sure every part is working toward defined goals. So, we’ll have a website in two months but:
- Is your content strategy good enough to retain customers and entice new ones?
- Is a multi-channel marketing plan already in place or do we need to create and implement one?
- Have new creative assets been developed for your marketing materials?
- Is there a plan to leverage analytics tools in the best possible way?
- Was the right level of ongoing maintenance and support considered?
Overall, an account team is made up of idea factories and master facilitators trying to think far enough ahead and go to places a client doesn’t have the time to go. In simple terms, our main purpose is to get you, our client, where you need to go; and we’ll always put you in front of the people or teams who can take you there.
Let’s Take Flight
Since we seem to be into an aviation theme lately, if a project manager is the air traffic controller guiding a project to a safe landing, an account executive provides the fuel that kicks off and sustains the trip. And once you’ve landed, we’re already filling the tank back up.
Remember, don’t buy into the negativity. Most of the time a good sales professional is just a versatile individual who passionately believes in the expertise their company can offer a client. They just prefer to skillfully and persuasively share the good news with you.
At this point, I hope you’ve realized a relationship with an account executive is not something rooted in deception. Give me a shout and let’s talk about how I can help your projects take off.
About Jason Mastroianni
Jason Mastroianni is the Head of Strategy at Liquid Interactive. Jason oversees or executes cross-functional work and often serves as a lead strategist for core Liquid clients where he ensures the integrated sets of decisions made every day are properly aligned to vision, planning, execution, and iteration.