The Top Priorities For New Account Executives (AEs) in Sales

In today’s newsletter, we are going to go a bit deeper into this recent LinkedIn post:

I’m frequently asked, “what should my priorities be when joining a company as a new AE?” Here’s my advice:

1) Organize your territory 

2) Learn your buyer personas: what they care about, how they are measured, what they are likely doing day-to-day

3) Master the storytelling of 2-3 case studies that tie to what you learn from point two

Organize your territory

When a new AE joins my group, priority number one is helping them understand how to organize, understand, and optimize their patch for sustained success. 

When prioritizing their accounts, most reps place too much weight on revenue and employee count. If they work for a mature company, they will often put too much weight on an internally calculated “Account Score” heavily influenced by revenue and employee count. Heavy reliance on an Account Score metric is suboptimal for two reasons: 

  1. Data quality (especially for privately held companies) is usually garbage
  2. These quantitative measures don’t tell the whole story

Would you rather sell to a company that does $5 billion in revenue with no evident use case for your product or to a company that does $50 million in revenue with multiple clear use cases for your product? 

If you are like me, you choose the latter. I recommend that reps manually prioritize all accounts based on Use Case and Budget. Here is how I have had my teams tier their accounts:

Priority 1 – Use Case and Budget

Priority 2 – Use Case or Budget

Priority 3 – No Use Case or Budget 

Here’s a simple, practical example of prioritization in terms of a luxury car salesman:

Priority 1 – Middle-aged professional. They can drive, and they have discretionary income. 

Priority 2 (Use Case, no budget) – Teenager. They can drive but won’t likely have discretionary income.

Priority 2 (Budget, no use case) – Retiree on their private island. They have money but don’t need a car on their little plot of paradise (I hope this is me in 30 years…)

Priority 3 – Pre-teen. They can’t drive and almost certainly don’t have discretionary income. 

Ideally, you can have your sales operations team add a custom field in your CRM with a picklist to assign each of your accounts one of these scores. If that’s not an option, building out in Excel or Google Sheets is a suitable alternative. 

Learn Buyer Personas

Before you could ever hope to articulate how your solution can help, you need to know what’s top of mind for your target prospects: what they care about and how they are measured. 

Most sellers look at LinkedIn profiles to obtain this information. However, few profiles give the tactical information necessary to broaden your understanding of the role. 

I recommend reading job descriptions for open roles in the same department as your target prospect. The tasks and expectations assigned to a product manager are likely related to the VP of Product’s priorities.  

If no open roles within the account relate to your prospect, look for comparable positions at competitors.

At a minimum, this research will provide insight into your prospects’ goal deliverables. It will frequently inform details of their current state, such as tools already in place.


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