4 Great Tips To Spotting and Hiring a Good AE (Account Executive)

4 Great Tips To Spotting and Hiring a Good AE (Account Executive)

Since I did the previous post on My AE Knows Nuts, I have been getting quite a few emails and feedback (positive and hilarious).

Selecting Candidate

But one question deserves an answer. An associate asked, if the role of an Account Executive is so important in a marketing or advertisng agency, how can we identify a good one? What a great question. This is one for the Human Resource history books. Bosses through the ages, have been trying to answer that same question in almost every industry, every company in the world. We cannot answer this question universally, however, from experience, there are certain characteristics that seem to be present among the good AEs.

First, let us get something out of the way. Do you need to have a Degree to be a good AE? The simple, most obvious answer is “No!”. But you see, a degree simply shows that the person has an ability to learn AND to apply what has been learnt. No degree, no diploma; but if the person is able to absorb knowledge and experience like a sponge, there is a great AE in the making.

Passion. If you have a burning passion for the advertising industry, that is a major plus. The AE is going to need every ounce of that passion to get through the down days. When nothing seems to go right, when every client seems to be an ogre in disguise, when the simplest words become potential libel suits; that is when you dig deep. If there was no passion, this is the time the AE will look at you and say, “Boss, thank you, but no thank you.”, and proceeds to open his own “char kway teow” stall (a local culinary delight from Singapore).

Hunger. That is the drive needed to go for each and every project. Couple this with the passion and you have one incredible, committed AE.

Is passion and hunger enough? I am passionately hungry for a piece of home-made pecan pie. You know, the crusty crust, the gooey pecan; just like mother used to make? Well, I have the passion for sure; and the hunger, you wouldn’t believe it. But no pecan pie for me. I have no idea how to make one!

Knowledge. A good AE must have at least a rudimentary knowledge of marketing and marketing communications. This can be learnt – must be learnt. The role of the Account Executive is the liaison between the marketing/advertising agencies creative brains and the client’s needs. Without a basic understanding of marketing and marketing communications, there is no way that he/she is going to be able to understand the marketing brief. Worse, this is the person who is supposed to interpret it and then work with the creative team to execute it. Will you let a 10-year old bake your wedding cake? Why not let him coordinate your entire wedding?

The brains, the passion, the drive and the knowledge form the basics. But there is another element which is important: People Skill. The AE sits in-between the agency and the client. Sounds harmless. Imagine managing demanding clients with egoistic “creative” minds and at the same time, trying to meet deadlines, budgets and a hundred other deliverables. The AE has to be the consumate statesman, able to deal with various personalities and be comfortable in both friendly and hostile situations.

Many people do not realise that an AE is also a project manager. Sure, the larger agencies have a “traffic” department, they have coordinators and so on. But in the end, the entire campaign, the client’s success and failure, depends on the AE being able to ensure that all elements fall into place. Beware the AE who thinks his job is finished when a clients signs the agreement, or the advertising agency recieves the purchase order. Nothing ever goes as planned, and it is the AE who needs to be on top of it all to ensure that value is delivered to the client, and the bottom line of the agency is protected.

Finally, the one sure way to spot a good AE is his great personality. He needs to be able to face the ups and downs, maintaining his positive outlook at all times. He is the bastion of calm when the agency panics. He steps up to the plate and deals with difficult clients. He goes to bat for the client and deal with internal red-tape to get a project completed.

Hopefully, this is helpful. Like I said earlier, there is no sure-fire way to determine the best hire, but these are just little things that we have noticed over the years to hire a AE. But to hire a good marketing or advertising, 4 Great Tips to Selecting the Best Marketing/Advertising Agency would be more relevant.

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[tags]ad agency, advertising agency, marketing agency, AE, Account Executive, Advertising Executive, Criteria for hiring Account Executive, Qualities of Account Executive, Role of Account Executive[/tags]

2 Replies to “4 Great Tips To Spotting and Hiring a Good AE (Account Executive)”

  1. Could you recommend any books for those of us who would like to venture into the account executive realm (who have those intangible qualities but need to bone up on marketing and marketing communications)? There are many out there of course but it’s tough for a newbie to discern the helpful from the detrimental. Help!?

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