Account executives: how to excel in an era of digital disruption

Digitization has had a profound effect on customers across all industries.

Our customers are more knowledgeable than ever, but they are also increasingly unaware about what’s really needed to fully digitize their workplace – how to automate, engage their audience and ultimately gain competitive advantages in today’s fast-paced digital economy

Likewise, the way we work as Sales professionals has been profoundly impacted by these changing customer needs. In order to guide customers on their journey of automation and digitization across the enterprise, a new set of skills and approaches are required.

We still see areas within organizations with a lack of awareness about what full digitization looks like and the impact it can have on their business. The role of today’s software Account Executive has changed to someone who can bring unique insights into a customer’s business so that they can see the possibilities

More than ever, Account Executives need to be more like a consultant so that they can ultimately be viewed as trusted advisors to their clients rather than a “Sales pro”. So, how do Account Executives succeed in this role? How do they become a trusted advisor to the customer?

First off, Account Executives need to be problem solvers and present solutions and not just products.  The problem may not be acutely known as many customers can be stuck in their “business as usual” line of thinking.  So they will need to present unique insights that clearly help them identify the opportunities to run their business more efficiently so they can achieve measurable gains.

At OpenText, we have a treasure chest full of great customer stories that illustrate how we enable our customers to great success.  Of course “solutions” are based on applications and many of our applications sit in the upper right-hand quadrant with analysts like Gartner and Forrester. This means that our Account Executives have an easier “in” with customers, and that we have the technological ability to really help them to execute and achieve concrete change.

Once you have the “in”, make sure to continue building on your customers confidence by using reference stories that speak to their situation – an example that shows how your company solved the same issue for a brand name company is ideal.

At OpenText, since we have thousands of customers, and count 90% of the Fortune 500 as customers, our Account Executives have a range of success stories to pull from when convincing prospective customers that they’re in the right hands. Telling stories about other successful customers builds credibility and trust.

The most successful Account Executives are also able to see the bigger picture. They can see an opportunity in a line of business and develop it into a much broader solution that ultimately has a greater impact on the business.  In this context they can help effect real transformation that leads to a real competitive advantage for their customer

Lastly, Account Executives should also use social media to build not only their brand but their company’s brand as well.  LinkedIn and Twitter are great platforms to help Account Executives achieve the desired “expert” status in their space and to garner customer trust.  Share articles that highlight your unique insights or, better yet, pen and publish your own articles.  Stay active and post or share on both platforms weekly. In the end it will build your brand and establish credibility with your customers.

Want to learn more about Sales at OpenText? Interested in finding out about our career opportunities? Visit opentext.com/careers.

Chip Neubar

Chip has worked in Sales for more than 20 years. Today he is Regional Vice President Sales, West at OpenText in the Enterprise group.

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1 thought on “Account executives: how to excel in an era of digital disruption”

  1. Great article Chip. As a firm that specializes in helping AE’s connect with decision makers we couldn’t agree more with the approach. No one cares about YOUR product until you can articulate THEIR problem.
    It may be counterintuitive, but success doesn’t depend on the message, it depends on the target’s willingness to hear it. The biggest challenge we see with being able to provide unique insights isn’t having the right information to share, it’s about gaining access to the right audience to share it with. IT leaders only talk to AE’s for one of two reasons. Create a gap in their understanding or tell them something they don’t know and you’ll break through the clutter.

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