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The Complete IBM Client Executive Review Guide

Learn about the IBM Client Executive salary, culture, and role.

Role Basics

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What does an IBM Client Executive do?

You are responsible for full cycle sales as a Client Executive.

An IBM Client Executive is IBM’s title for an Account Executive or Field Sales Rep. For example, if you sell IBM services, your title will be Services Client Executive. 

What type of work experience do you need for this role?

For an outside hire (non-Summit), you will need at least 2 years full sales cycle experience in technology sales. To get into the enterprise accounts sales org (Segment One), your experience should be selling into enterprise or key accounts.

For a business school Summit hire, ideally you will do the MBA IBM Summit sales internship. If you don’t do the internship, ideally you’ll have another strong sales internship under your belt during your MBA program or 2 years full sales cycle experience prior to your MBA program.

How is the sales org structured?

The IBM sales org is a maze. Additionally, IBM just went through a restructuring as of 2021, so the org structure is still unraveling and transforming.

Generally, IBM segments by industry and client size. Client size is segmented by segment one (enterprise accounts) and segment two (everyone else).

On an enterprise account, you will have a ‘core’ sales rep who will cover all products, and overlay ‘brand specialist’ salespeople who cover a specific ‘IBM brand’ (product), such as security, AI, hybrid cloud, etc. Some specialists will sell both products and services related to their brand.

The enterprise account team and overlay salespeople will have an SDR who they work with as well. 

Which IBM offices do Client Executives work at?

The field sales reps are spread across the US. The digital sales reps (inside reps) work across several offices. Learn more about those locations in our IBM Digital Sales Summit guide here.

What level are IBM Client Executives?

Sales Reps range from band 6 to band 10. Your band is determined by your years of experience and success as a sales rep.

A new grad college hire will enter as a band 6. A business school grad hire will enter as a band 7.

Culture and Daily Life

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What's the IBM sales culture like?

At the enterprise account level, the environment is relatively low pressure. The sales cycles are very long, intricate, and strategic. You will collaborate with several very talented and tenured sales folks who will work to make a consultative sales experience for the client. This type of sales cycle and sales process lends itself to a more collaborative and laid-back culture. 

However, that is not to say there is no pressure. Enterprise reps are expected to have 2 customer meetings per day, a well-developed pipeline, and a line of sight into hitting your quota, like all sales jobs. If you’re hitting your number, you will be mostly left alone by sales management.

How many hours per week do IBM Client Executives work?

At the enterprise account level, you can expect to work 30-40 hours per week. The low-ish hours is due to a small number of accounts that enterprise reps cover, long sales cycles, decades long customer relationships (less ‘proving’ yourself), and the overall strategic and consultative sales approach.

Salary

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How much does an IBM Client Executive earn?

An IBM Client Executive coming in from business school (band 7) will earn on average a first year base salary of $105,000. You can also negotiate a signing bonus, which can range from $5,000 to $20,000. You generally do not receive any stock grants.

Your first six months as a new grad business school hire will be in the summit program. You’ll earn your full prorated base salary of $105,000 for those first six months. After you get out of the summit program, you’ll be on a MBO plan. You can earn up to 50% of your base salary if you perform exceptionally well.

After your first year, you will be put on a traditional sales quota. Once you have a quota, your OTE becomes 150% of your base salary. So as a band 7, with a $105,000 base, you will have an OTE of $162,750. The OTE will be split 55% as base salary, and 45% as commission. 

Thus, your second year compensation package out of business school will include a $90,000 salary and $72,750 commission earning potential.

If you are an outside hire, $162,750 OTE applies to outside hires entering as a band 7 as well.

Note that the figures above are averages as of 2020 – you can negotiate your compensation package within the pay band.

For more detailed IBM compensation information, visit our IBM company page.

Tips to Succeed

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How competitive is the product and solution set?

IBM competes in nearly every IT product area, from security, services, hardware (servers), AI, on premise technology, etc. Across all of the product areas, IBM has Fortune 500 customers, so the product set will always be competitive.

In the public cloud space, they lag behind AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.

IBM is unique in that they cover the full IT stack so you have the opportunity to use that as a strong selling point.

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What is the best IBM Sales Org to sell in?

There is not one best known org to sell in. 

AI, Cloud, Security, and Red-Hat powered technology all seem to do well.

The services org lends itself to a more strategic and consultative sell which provides an opportunity to drive sales in a vendor-agnostic capacity.

How big of a role does territory play in your success?

IBM Sales Ops does a good job of dividing territories up at the enterprise level. Each rep will have a roughly equal amount of accounts with strong existing relationships and accounts with little to no relationships.