account managers vs sales people

There are many ways to define both account managers and sales people but for the purpose of this blog I am going to talk about account managers as relationship builders and sales people as hunters.

To define that a little further account managers are normally the kinds of people that nurture relationships and take the time to get to know their clients and prospects and and do more listening that talking. Any talking that is done is more asking questions than it is making statements.

A sales person although can possess some of the above qualities also have the have the following qualities. A sales person tends to be motivated and hungry and willing to do the work. The work is the travel and the early starts to networking events and exhibitions. They do not really want to be in office they like to be on the road.

So which one if any is right for your business or is it both? Lots of businesses today do have both roles in their organisations.

What do I think?

Well to start I think we are all in sales! Yes every single one of us. If you are in the business of getting someone to do something or think something of any kind then you are in sales. To learn more about this read the amazing book by Dan Pink – To sell is human.

I also think that with between 59%-70+% of the sales process taking place on-line before the prospect speaks to a single person of your team it may actually lean towards an account manager but I feel its actually a little bit of both.


If I had to choose one it would be an account manager because they listen more and sell less. Sounds odd sells less right? Instead they enable the prospect to BUY and that is the big difference. By spending more time listening and actually thinking about the clients needs and problem instead of pushing why your product or service is so great you win the hearts and minds of your prospects and customers.

Stop Closing!

Those that read my blogs or listen to my podcast know that I hate the word close. It is so negative and feels like the end of something and like the sales person won and the prospect lost. How about thinking of it as starting a relationship instead.

Asking for the business.

This is where sales people are strong. At some point in the sales process you need to know if you have answered all of the questions the prospect has and do they understand how you understand their problem or challenge and also how you feel you can solve it. If the answer is yes to all of those questions there should be no issue in asking if you can have the opportunity to do exactly that. Sometimes people do not want to say the words or get nervous saying yes so ensure that they feel 100% confident that you are right people to help them. Buyers remorse is a very real thing and many a sales deal is cancelled the next day because they feel they were pushed into agreeing a deal before they were ready.

I believe that the sales person of today is very different to the traditional door knocking cold calling sales person of the past 20 years. Today sales is a very different process and understanding how that takes place on-line to start and in some cases right to the end as well.

Whatever you call them a sales person or account manager understand what role they now play in the last 30-40% of the sales process and get the right kind of personality to fit the situation. I think account managers who are looking to build and nurture relationships over a period of time makes so much more sense as long as they are commercially savvy.