If you’re looking to take your business to the next level, you need to have an account executive (AE) on your team. An account executive is a professional who takes charge of the sales process, from identifying potential clients to closing deals. They are responsible for generating revenue and ensuring customer satisfaction. In this Whistle guide, we’ll take a closer look at the role of account executives, the sales process, best practices, and the handover process to account managers.
Sales Process Overview
The sales process is the key to success for any account executive. It is a multi-step process that begins with identifying potential clients and ends with closing the deal. Here are the steps involved in the sales process:
Steps the SDRs Take
Before an account executive takes over the sales process, a sales development representative (SDR) identifies potential clients and reaches out to them. The SDRs qualify leads and set up appointments with account executives.
When and How the Account Executive Takes Over
Once the SDRs have set up appointments, the account executive takes over the sales process. They follow a series of meetings, evaluations, and negotiations to close the deal.
The sales process can be broken down into several stages:
Initial meeting: The AE meets with the potential client to discuss their needs, goals, and pain points.
Initial evaluation: The AE evaluates the potential client’s needs and determines whether they are a good fit for the company’s services or products. The client also completes their Ideal Client Profile before moving onto the next stage of the process.
Formal evaluation: The AE and the client engage in a more in-depth discussion about the company’s services or products. During this stage at Whistle, we use our Math of Sales calculator to identify lead sources, revenue goals and the number of SDRs required. Once that is done, an executive proposal is created.
Proposal/negotiation: The AE presents a proposal to the client and negotiates the terms of the deal.
Verbal approval: Once the client agrees to the proposal, the AE receives verbal approval.
Closed won: The deal is closed, contracts are signed and the prospect officially becomes a customer.
Best practices: There are several best practices that an AE can follow to ensure the success of their sales process. Here are a few:
- Know who your ICP is: It is crucial to know your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and target those clients who fit that profile.
- Key buyer personas: Understanding the key buyer personas of your target audience is essential for effective communication and closing deals.
- Use the best channel for each persona: Use the appropriate communication channels for each buyer persona. For example, use email for some, and phone calls for others.
- Messaging: Tailor your messaging to the needs and pain points of each client.
- Timing: Timing is everything. Follow up with clients at the right time to maintain their interest.
- Managing the leads on HubSpot: Ensure that all relevant information about the client is entered into HubSpot and that it is up-to-date.
- Best practices may also include video messaging should it be a viable solution for the client.
Sales Talk Track
The sales talk track is a pre-prepared, structured set of statements or questions that the AE can use to guide the conversation with potential customers. It’s designed to help improve the communication of the value proposition in a clear and compelling way, and to address common objections or questions that may arise. Here’s what it entails:
- Research the potential client to understand their business, their goals, and their pain points prior to the call.
- Use open-ended questions to understand the client’s needs, challenges, and goals. This is the discovery phase of the client contact process. Some examples of questions we ask our potential clients are: What is your quarterly goal? What is your average deal size? How long is your sales timeline? What is your closed/won ratio? What lead sources do you have?
- Use the answers to the previously mentioned questions to identify the client’s pain points and tailor your messaging to address those pain points. Make careful note of key takeaways from the discussion. The answers to the questions mentioned above help us to determine how many SDRs will be required to achieve the client’s goals.
- Establish the credibility of your organization by sharing success stories and case studies with similar verticals.
- Highlight what sets your company apart from your competitors. Stay away from putting your competitors down, and rather focus on what you do differently.
- Be transparent about pricing and explain the value that your company brings.
- Set clear expectations for the next steps in the sales process.
Handover Process to Account Manager
The final step in the sales process is to hand over the client to an account manager (AM).
What needs to be done?
The handover process to an account manager involves ensuring that all relevant client information is passed on, including any relevant notes from previous meetings, contracts, and other essential documents. The account manager should at that point have a clear understanding of the client’s needs and expectations.
What meetings should they attend?
The first meeting that the account manager usually attends is the kick-off meeting – the first meeting held after the contract is signed, before the project/campaign is launched. Thereafter, the AM should attend regular meetings with the client to ensure that their needs are being met and that the company is delivering on its promises. These meetings may include regular check-ins, quarterly business reviews, and other important touchpoints.
What information do they need to know?
The AM should have a complete understanding of the client’s goals, pain points, and expectations. They should also be familiar with any relevant history with the company and any previous interactions. Additionally, they should be knowledgeable about the company’s products and services, as well as any relevant industry trends and news.
Ultimately, account executives play a crucial role in the success of any business. By following the best practices outlined in this playbook, AEs can ensure that they are effectively identifying potential clients, communicating with them in a meaningful way, and closing deals that meet their needs and expectations. By successfully handing over clients to account managers, AEs can help ensure that their clients remain satisfied, and the company continues to grow.
Are you ready to take your sales process to the next level? Sit down with one of our Account Executives for a chat now.