There’s no cookie-cutter template for a great entry level Account Executive, and sometimes a rep with an outside-the-box background or perspective can be the differentiator your team needs to reach the next level or shake up a stale sales process. But there are some traits that typically indicate success in sales:
It’s not mandatory for many Junior Account Executive roles, but a little experience can go a long way. It’s worth noting, however, that the experience doesn’t have to be in the particular industry you’re hiring for. Many reps just need the basics and can translate those skills to many different industries. I’ve seen many rockstar reps transition smoothly from one industry to another. You can also look for sales development or business development experience. This can be a great indicator of drive.
How a candidate prepares for your interview can be a very good indicator of how they will prepare for their sales meetings (and even the way they approach their business day). Was the candidate prepared with background information on your company? Did they do their research ahead of time? Do they know what you do or the services you provide? Were they on time (even early)? Did they have something to write with and did they take notes?
Sales is a persistence business. Polite persistence during the hiring process is a good indication of their persistence with clients. Are the reps you’re interviewing following up with ‘thank you’ messages? Are they asking closing-centric questions? Are they naturally asking for the next steps in the interview process? If not, this could be a red flag.
Great Junior Account Executives are typically great listeners, and they are inquisitive by nature. Are the reps you’re considering falling into this bucket? Do they ask smart questions about the business and role they will be taking on? Are they asking questions about the day in the life of a top producer (what it takes to be successful)? The best entry level Account Executives always want to know more, and they always know there is more they can learn, no matter how well they rank on performance.
Strong writing skills
Did the rep follow up in writing after your interview? If so, how is the context/grammar? More so now than in years past, the sales process relies on email, so it’s critical that the Junior Account Executives you hire write well. If the candidate hasn’t followed up in writing, ask for a writing example (this is often a good idea no matter what). Poorly written emails can be a red flag that you want to avoid.
Is the rep naturally outgoing? Great salespeople don’t have to be the life of the party, but a little extroversion can go a long way. Sales is highly competitive, and your entry level Account Executives need to separate themselves from the pack. Personality can be the differentiator your team needs. It’s not the end-all, be-all trait, but it is a trait that adds another check in the box.
Here’s one last tip: Assessments can be a great way to get insight into what drives or motivates a potential sales employee. They may also share insight into how to manage the rep and what area of sales they may be better suited for (new business or renewal business; transactional sales or solutions sales). They can provide additional data points that are often not easy to expose during a traditional interview process and give hiring managers insight they need to make a great choice.