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When Do You Need to Hire an Enterprise Account Executive?

The Betts Team
January 2, 2024

At what point should your SaaS company hire an Enterprise Account Executive (EAE)? We have seen a growing demand for this title in the Betts network and the technology industry as a whole, which follows key trends that will shape talent acquisition in tech for 2024.

In this blog, we will dive deeper into the role and responsibilities of EAEs, and highlight the best time to start looking for a unicorn candidate to hire:

What is an Enterprise Account Executive?

An Account Executive (AE) in the realm of SaaS is a sales position whose primary task is closing deals, including from leads generated by Sales Development Representatives (SDRs). While there are account-based selling (ABS) practices involved, unlike an Account Manager (AM) the majority of an AE’s time will be spent on sales-focused activities.

An Enterprise Account Executive has a much more specific role, with two defining differences from other sales titles:

  1. EAEs work exclusively with larger, enterprise-sized clients
  2. EAEs communicate primarily and directly with executive decision-makers

Any EAE hire is going to be someone with considerably more experience and technical knowledge. They’re veteran sales professionals who know the sales motion inside and out, who understand the unique needs of their prospect and customer base in enterprise, who can speak to product value in the same language as their client, and who will turn C-suite challenges into selling points. 

EAE vs. AE

The differences between an Executive Account Executive and a standard Account Executive continue beyond a title change, which is important to note when hiring an experienced EAE versus an AE. Here are the top contrasts to keep in mind:

  • A junior or mid-level AE will be working with SMB and midmarket clients mainly, while EAEs sell exclusively to enterprise accounts
  • Account Executives often engage with a delegated point of contact for a department or team – Enterprise Account Executives must build relationships with C-level officers or VPs
  • AEs can be entry-level juniors or promoted from experienced SDRs, while an EAE is a senior-level hire with at the very least 5 years of sales experience
  • Account Executive pay versus Enterprise Account Executive pay reflects the experience gap – $60,000 to $75,000 vs. $120,000 as a starting base salary

EAEs in Tech Sales

The deal lifecycle for enterprise solutions can be a complex beast that will often involve a lot of discussions over a long period of time. Even when deals are sold upfront, there is still additional work to be done on account management, maintenance, preventing churn, cross-selling and upselling on new opportunities.

An EAE with experience in tech sales will understand this, and should be able to contribute this knowledge to your sales motion. Whether you’re an early stage startup or an established company, selling into the enterprise market for SaaS solutions will come with significant hurdles in the next few years. You shouldn’t be looking to scale up your team just to sell to larger clients, but also to be able to sell successfully to this audience – the right fit hire will be a candidate that checks all of these boxes.

Where and How to Hire Enterprise Account Executives

The technology industry is in a bit of a contradiction when it comes to talent acquisition – despite news of layoffs, there is a continuous talent shortage. Many SaaS companies are competing fiercely for the same pool of experienced candidates, especially those with some kind of technical knowledge but that still know how to sell.

Before you go looking for where and how to hire an Enterprise Account Executive, you need to be clear on exactly what you need from an EAE:

Your Unicorn Tech EAE

When it comes to sales recruiting, tech companies have long been repackaging the same role with a few tweaks here and there. While this approach may seem perfect for long-term scalability at face value, the reality is that it’s having the opposite effect for many in the current market. 

Based on findings from the Betts network, we recommend narrowing your search to a “unicorn seller” – a top performer that aligns with your specific sales motion. The good news is that when hiring for an Enterprise Account Executive, you will already be looking for candidates that have a history of high performance. Where you will need to focus will be in tracking down someone who also has experience with your particular side of your market, your specific audience by title and function, and with your product category.

Best Practices for Hiring EAEs

Recruiting EAEs can seem like a challenging search in the current market, but keeping these best practices in mind will help you dodge the pitfalls:

  • If you’re hiring an EAE externally, ensure that your compensation package is competitive for the current market
  • Benefits that affect work-life balance often stick out more than base salary when it comes to a job offer
  • OTE (on-target earnings), especially commissions, are typically a bigger draw for candidates in tech sales
  • Don’t be afraid to consider an experienced AE as a candidate – if they’re a top performer and have experience with enterprise sales, then they’re already on their way 
  • Accessing a more refined talent network than LinkedIn or another job board will help you narrow your search to relevant candidates

You can refer to the additional resources from Betts below for additional help on landing your right fit EAE candidate:

Using a Recruiting Agency to Hire Enterprise Account Executives

Since you found your way to this blog, you have probably already looked at options for outsourced recruiting for your EAE hiring search. And if you’ve done your research or have worked with headhunter firms in the past, then you’re probably also aware of the costs associated with filling a position with specific requirements. Finding your unicorn Enterprise Account Executive candidate will take time, especially if the recruiting agency you’re working with doesn’t know what you’re actually looking for.

Hire an EAE Without Breaking Your Budget

At Betts, we’ve helped over 10,000 startups scale their teams – and now we’re redefining talent acquisition for SaaS in the modern age. With our Recruitment as a Service (RaaS) package, you get access to our advanced hiring platform, Betts Connect, in addition to end-to-end recruiter support – all on one subscription that’s less than you would pay for a traditional agency.

Contact us here to learn more about RaaS and discover how we can streamline your search for your unicorn Enterprise Account Executive.