Congratulations! You’re now an Account Executive—but what’s next? To really set yourself up for success in the long run, it’s important to set achievable goals to guide your work during year one.
Here are goals every AE should strive for right out of the gate:
First 100 Days—
During your first three months on the job, focus on developing a deep understanding of the product and sales process. You’ll also want to start developing relationships with existing and prospective clients.
1. Complete all onboarding training.
It’s basic, but take your onboarding training seriously. Even if you’ve enjoyed sales success before, you’re still new to AE responsibilities. Be thorough in going through all training materials. When you come across content that may be useful for you later, bookmark or save it so that it will be easily accessible. You may also want to take note of subjects you’d like to delve into further as part of your continuing education.
Don’t shy away from asking your manager and peers questions about the material you learn in the onboarding process. Doing so is a sign that you’re taking your training seriously and care about being a great AE.
2. Introduce yourself and start to form relationships with existing clients.
Nurturing client relationships is one of the primary duties of all AEs, so focusing on this right off is important. If you’re new to your company, you can expect your manager and colleagues to introduce you to existing clients. Use these introductions to soak up all of the information you can about these customers. This will help you grow existing business and identify new customers that fit the client profile.
Before introducing yourself to existing clients, conduct research so that you can create a strong first impression.
3. Close a deal with assistance.
Your onboarding plan will have more information about expectations for your sales productivity. But in general, a good rule is this: Within your first two months as an AE, you should close out at least one deal with assistance from colleagues. Although this may be more difficult if your company has a longer sales cycle, you should at least have some involvement in the closing process so that you can better understand how it goes.
4. Close a deal on your own.
By the end of the first 100 days, it’s great to be able to demonstrate that you can close a deal independently (or achieve an equivalent milestone if this isn’t realistic with your sales cycle). This shows your manager that you’ve absorbed your training and are able to apply it in real sales situations.
First 6 months—
After the first 100 days, your focus should start to shift a little. You know the basics and have started to develop relationships with clients. Now is your chance to deepen your knowledge and relationships.
1. Develop strong industry knowledge if you don’t already have it.
Once you feel comfortable with the product and sales process, it’s time to work on broadening your overall industry knowledge. After some time on the job, you probably have a better idea of what you know and where there are some gaps in your knowledge. Use this understanding to shape your development process.
Sharpening up on industry knowledge is particularly important if you’re entering a new industry or vertical. Try to attend at least one industry-specific conference. Carve out time to pursue industry resources such as trade publications. Ask colleagues for assistance if you’re not sure where to begin.
2. Nurture relationships with existing clients.
Now is your opportunity to start really taking charge of your accounts. It’s time to start going beyond introductions and start really getting to know existing clients on a deeper level. You should be meeting with them and working to build relationships.
You should now be able to identify which accounts are primed for further growth and how you might go about doing that. Start developing—and executing—a strategy to grow existing business, using the personalized knowledge that you’ve gathered.
3. Generate enough business to pay for your annual salary.
To show that you’re a good investment, set this revenue goal for your first six months. If you can make back your entire annual salary (or exceed it), during the first half-year, you can go a long way towards proving your worth as an AE. Again, this may vary a little depending on sales cycle length, but this is a good general option for AE career goals.
During months six through twelve, focus on providing value to your company in numerous ways. You want to bring in revenue, continue developing relationships, and more generally prove that you’re a team player.
1. Work on at least one department-wide or company-wide initiative.
In today’s collaborative sales environment, it’s not enough just to be a great seller. Sales leaders want to promote AEs who show that they can contribute to what the entire is doing. Keeping that in mind, consider volunteering your services for one or two initiatives that impact the entire department or company. While you don’t want to take on so much that it detracts from your ability to sell, joining an initiative and doing a good job does much to build will at your company. This will only help you in the long run.
2. Grow existing accounts.
You’ve now had time to nurture relationships. If you’ve done this well, there is a real rapport and trust between you and the client. Towards the latter half of your first year on the job, that work should start to have results in the form of business growth.
3. Generate a 100% ROI on your salary.
Your company has invested in you in the form of salary, training, recruitment costs, and more. To provide good ROI on that investment, set the goal of generating at least twice as much revenue as your annual salary. If you can do that, you will demonstrate your ability to become a top-performing AE.