Account Executive Vs. Account Director

Oct 01, 2019

Comparing Account Executives to Account Directors

Account executives and account directors generally work in sales departments for corporations or for advertising and public relations firms. They connect customers to products and services available at their company. They hold an essential role in driving profits for their company.

Job Title Education Requirements Average Salary (2019)
Account Director Bachelor's degree $96,677
Account Executive Bachelor's degree
Managerial experience


Responsibilities of Account Executives vs Account Directors

Both account executives and account directors are responsible for building and maintaining positive relationships with clients, however they go about their work in very different ways. Account executives usually have bachelor's degrees and a limited amount of sales experience. In contrast, account directors are mid to senior level managers with years of experience. They hold much more authority within the company and can direct teams of account executives. Both positions must have strong interpersonal, communication and conflict-resolution skills to navigate complex relationships with clients.

Account Executive

An account executive is an outward-facing team member that works to acquire new clients. Despite how it sounds, account executives do not have managerial responsibilities or authority; they are salesmen at their core. They are in charge of guiding new clients all the way from an introduction to the company's services to signing the first contract. Because their job is contingent upon meeting monthly sales quotas, they may work long hours out of the office establishing relationships with potential clients. A successful account executive may move on to become an account manager (and oversee multiple accounts) or rise to higher-level positions in sales and marketing.

Job responsibilities of an account executive include:

  • Using advanced networking skills to identify potential clients
  • Crafting custom sales pitches
  • Representing their company as the first point of contact for new customers
  • Establishing rapport with potential customers and encourage a long-lasting relationship with their company
  • Taking training courses to learn about the services and products their company can offer potential clients

Account Director

An account director works with clients who have already signed contracts with the company. They need to have great attention-to-detail and organizational skills to manage multiple accounts at once, keep track of payments, and send out bills. They are responsible for increasing the profitability of a group of accounts. They have the authority to analyze company data and design strategies for retaining current customers. They may also oversee groups of account managers who take care of specific client/team relationships. By demonstrating success and improving profits for their company, they can move on to higher level positions in administration and senior-level management.

Job responsibilities of an account director include:

  • Assigning employees to account teams based on their unique skills and affinities
  • Analyzing reports on customer acquisition satisfaction, and retention
  • Reporting back to upper-level management about their team's successes and challenges
  • Developing relationships with existing clients to encourage further business
  • Attending networking events and find other ways to meet with potential clients

Related Careers

If you are interested in becoming an account executive, you may also want to consider a career as an advertising account coordinator, since both positions involve maintaining positive client relationships. If you are leaning more toward becoming an account director, you might look into a career as a national account coordinator, a position that shares similar management responsibilities.

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