A couple weeks ago, I spent two days leading a workshop for account executives. In AMR’s AE Bootcamps — we talk a lot about how an AE is basically running a division of the agency and is responsible for the financial health of their division.

Our goal is to help AEs realize that they have a direct impact on the financial health of their agency. They’re not order takers — they are business problem solvers who sell measurable solutions.  I want them to understand their job is to mine for gold.  Gold to put into the agency’s pockets.  Not fool’s gold (conning clients into spending more) but earned gold from helping clients’ grow their business.

So within the first hour or two of the workshop, I ask “how many of you know the exact amount of AGI (adjusted gross income) that you are responsible for generating out of your division every month?”  Two hands went up. Two. Out of a room full of employed account executives.

Owners complain that their AEs can’t get to the C suite, or don’t sell additional services or can’t grow an account. Honestly — the blame for all of that sits right at the feet of the owner.

Anyone can take an order. If you want your account executives to actually be poised to help you grow your agency — you need to give them three things.

  1. You need to teach them business and marketing principles if they don’t already know them.
  2. You need to give them systems that support smart agency management like marketing briefs, change orders and a hierarchy for getting sign offs before work is done.
  3. You need to give them financial goals and financial incentives for reaching those goals.

The absence of any of those three elements almost guarantees that your account execs will do what they know how to do — be a great order taker and get your clients to like them. But you need and want them to be so much more.

Give them the tools to do the job you want them to do.