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Inside view: a week in the life of an AE

You could read every B2B sales book available about how to be the best.

But if you’re not speaking to people who are actually where you want to be…

You may not get there.

You may not know how.

Or what the role you’re striving to be in even entails.

So, we went ahead and found that all out for you.

We chatted to Catherine Gardner, our top-performing Account Executive of Q3 in 2021.

And found out all about what a week in the life of an AE looks like.

Scroll 👇 to find out the day-to-day duties you’ll need to cover if you’d like to be on top of your game too!

The day-to-day | Core responsibilities to cover | How to manage your time | Major challenges and how to overcome these | Tools that can help you | Cat’s final thoughts | More sales hacks from Cognism

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The day-to-day 🗓️

If you’re aspiring to become an AE, right off the bat, you need to know that 70% of your day will be spent on Zoom.

Why?

Well, as Cat explains, the primary function of your role is managing multiple calls with prospective clients, every day.

Cat expands on this:

“The aim is to identify gaps or pain points which we can solve. The majority of your day will be spent having those talks and then the rest is spent in Salesforce or in your inbox ensuring that all of the opportunities are up-to-date, and that all action points are complete.”

Throughout your day there are various other tasks that you can expect to complete such as:

  1. Actioning reactive calls
  2. Helping with questions or requests
  3. Jumping on calls to help with trials
  4. Catching up with the SDR team (who are responsible for arranging your client conversations)
  5. Updating and strategising with them on how you can further progress your deals together

When you have your catch-up call with your SDRs, you’ll typically seek to answer the following:

  • How your meeting went
  • Who else in the business (outside of the contact you just spoke to) you could potentially reach out to
  • What other departments you could loop in

Then, your SDRs will take this information and see who they can target to continue conversations with that business.

You won’t necessarily be completing or participating in all of these tasks every day, as each day is different.

But you’ll certainly be completing these tasks weekly.

And once you’ve got your daily and weekly tasks down, you’ve got to look at what the AE role entails in a broader sense - i.e. 👇

Core responsibilities to cover 📋

There are a number of core responsibilities you’ll have to cover as an AE there are two main focuses you need to have:

1 - Generating revenue for your business

Cat explains how she does this:

“We’re managing accounts from the initial demo conversation on Zoom up to closing that deal and bringing them on as a client. In order to do this, you’ve got to use the pain points and gaps you’ve uncovered in your initial conversation, and then add value using your solution to address those gaps or pain points.”

Along the way, you’ll be managing different stakeholders and different use cases.

So, to ensure that you’re going to generate the revenue you need to, you need to personalise each of those interactions.

Making the second thing you need to do 👇

2 - Adding as much value as you can to the whole experience

How do you do this?

By ensuring your potential clients have a great buying journey.

This entails working on your soft sales skills such as:

  • The way that you communicate
  • The ways in which you add value
  • Making people feel important and that you would prioritise them

Although you know what you’re responsible for and what you need to do daily, do you know how to fit it all into one day?

Hmmm, perhaps not.

Not to worry though, Cat fills us in! 👇

How to manage your time ⏳

“Managing your time is one of the hardest things about being an AE. You’ll have your static new business meetings where you’re meeting people for the first time. You’ll have a lot of reactive follow-ups where people will ask to speak to you that afternoon or the next day. So, you’re just adding things into the diary along the way and changing the dynamic all the time.”

“As well as that, a lot of time is spent trying to get people onboarded onto trials and managing them through the trials so that they have the best experience.”

And, as you need to take the time and put the effort into all of these things, it’s going to take up a large chunk of your day.

If you want to avoid falling behind on your tasks, you’ll want to:

  • Streamline repeatable tasks
  • Be smart with time tracking
  • Plan your day around your customers
  • Get your “no” faster
  • Limit multitasking

Then, it’s on to looking at the bigger picture of 👇

Major challenges and how to overcome them 🧗

Although the major challenges you’ll face as an AE will differ from person-to-person, Cat shares what she finds challenging in the AE role.

“For me, it’s workload and time management. They’re the most difficult parts because it can get quite overwhelming and it feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. So, I find that prioritisation of my time is really key.”

“When I feel things are getting quite overwhelming in terms of balancing emails coming in, contract follow-ups, time-sensitive requests, and so on - you have to think about what will bring in the greatest reward and what will bring in that revenue.”

How does Cat overcome these challenges?

By putting time aside to take all of her current conversations and all of her opportunities and to start cutting that pipeline down.

Instead of hanging on to opportunities that aren’t going anywhere, Cat focuses her energy on things that will.

It can be a fantastic way to refocus yourself and to get you to really start thinking about what you’re going to do that day and how you can reach your goals faster.

Cat expands on this:

“It’s a combination of workload and pressure so you have to decide what is important and what isn’t a lot of the time.”

And how can you prioritise your tasks for the day?

By following Cat’s tips 👇

  • Prepare for the new conversations you’re going to have that day - do this by going over the notes the SDRs have given you.
  • Prioritise your emails coming in - the quicker you get back to people, the quicker things get done.
  • Block out an hour every day for demo admin - this is incredibly important to avoid a snowball effect.

And, to round-off mastering your AE role, you’ll want to have a suitable tech stack 👇

Tools that can help you 🧰

Cat listed out the tools she found most helpful in getting her the top-performing AE of Q3, 2021:

1 - Salesforce

“Salesforce is going to be the key place you work from every single day. It’s what I use for managing every single one of my tasks.”

2 - Scratchpad

“This tool basically takes all of your Salesforce tasks and makes it really quick to action any follow-ups, or change dates in your tasks. It’s a game-changer for admin done quickly.”

3 - Gong

“It’s really important because you’re recording your calls, you’re sending them to prospects, and you can use those calls to review anything that’s been said, and then to use the calls for training as well.”

Cat’s final thoughts 💭

Yep, Cat has even more incredible insights to share.

“The AE role is incredibly rewarding. The skills that I’ve learnt just over the last year of doing this role is insane. I’ve learnt how to sell a product in a very personal way, working on my communication skills, and building my confidence are some of the most important.” 

“Going into the role, you can expect a lot of rewarding characteristics but it does take a lot of time to learn those skills.”  

So, what should you remember when you enter the AE role?

  • You’ve got to keep your head on straight.
  • Action your admin.
  • And, manage your time, the workload, and the pressure.

But, as Cat says:

“It’s all worth it because when you get to revenue, you feel happy.”

And once you’re in the role and want to be the top AE of a quarter, you should follow what Cat did! 👇

“I put in lots and lots of hours, but more importantly, I’m a huge advocate for getting support when you need it. So, I will always ask for training - even if I’ve been in the role for a year, I still like to review my skillset with my managers to ensure that I’m improving all the time. So, I ask for their advice and for their support.”

Cat also explains how important consistency is in an AE role:

“You’ve got to put the same amount of time and energy into every single conversation that you’ll have and also be working towards big goals. When I doubled my quarterly target, I didn’t just expect it to happen. I put the same amount of effort into all of my conversations and then naturally things just came together.

“If you put 110% effort into those initial calls, it really helps to get everything smoothly over to the finish line.”

It all comes down to being rewarded for the work you’re putting in.

Can you believe that after all that Cat shared with us, we’ve got even more to share with you! 👇

More sales hacks from Cognism 🚀

Are there a lot of sales hacks out there?

Yes, of course, there are.

But when it comes to knowing which sales tips and tricks to try out…

Quality must trump quantity every time.

So where do you find the quality hacks you need to really step up your sales game in 2022?

On our LinkedIn page!

Get the best in class sales insights you need, all in one place. Click 👇

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