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What is the difference between sales and account management?

Ben Pike , Jan 11, 2010; 10:19 a.m.

I have to do a presentation for an internal job and wanted to get some fresh views on the question "What is the difference between sales and account management?" I have to do a brief presentation to give my views. I suspect I have captured the obvious, but I am always looking for that new angle. Any thoughts?

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Rose-Marie B , Jan 11, 2010; 10:33 a.m.

Sales management: much like herding cats. Account management: Arguing with grumpy eggheads. That's pretty much it in a nutshell.

Stephen Lewis , Jan 11, 2010; 10:33 a.m.

In my former line of work, sales was just that....securing new clients. Account management consisted of all facets of the ongoing relationship, from investing assets in the account, to assisting with legal issues as they related to our contractual responsibilities, from simple record keeping, to preparation of tax information for our clients' inclusion in their annual tax returns. We had to be knowledgable about each client, their families and their finances, as they all changed over the years. When there were changes in any of the above, we had to reexamine their investments, and if appropriate, help them resolve those issues. If, for instance, illnesses - normal, accidental or mental befell the clients, we occasionally needed to step in to ensure they were receiving proper care and social services, if there were no fmily members available or willing to help. We paid periodic visits to clients, so that we would know their circumstances personally, and be on the lookout for individuals or institutions which might attempt to take advantage of our clients' frailty or lack of sophistication. We also were responsible for introducing our clients to additional services, as appropriate - I would call this "inside sales". Perhaps some similar tasks I've described will apply to your situation. Good luck with your presentation.

Jeff Spirer , Jan 11, 2010; 10:52 a.m.

Account management is a job created to pay less than a sales person on the same job would get if they hung onto the account after they closed it.

Matt Laur , Jan 11, 2010; 12:38 p.m.

Sales Management: Managing the process and resources needed to creating new customers or opportunities (although that "opportunities" part drifts towards marketing, too, which is another animal).

Account Management: Managing the process of keeping those customers and encouraging repeat opportunities, as well as identifying customers it's not worth keeping. Because not every customer is worth keeping.

Ilia Farniev , Jan 11, 2010; 01:46 p.m.

There is no difference.

Remco Jan Woldhuis , Jan 11, 2010; 03:31 p.m.

Depends on the company.... There are companies where the account manager main job is to get the best possible relation with the customer and to idenity sales opportunities. Specialist presales/sales peopel will than materialize the sales. At other companies the account manager is a pure sales guy/girl.

Remco Jan Woldhuis , Jan 11, 2010; 03:31 p.m.

Depends on the company.... There are companies where the account manager main job is to get the best possible relation with the customer and to idenity sales opportunities. Specialist presales/sales peopel will than materialize the sales. At other companies the account manager is a pure sales guy/girl.

Chris Werner , Jan 11, 2010; 04:14 p.m.

This sounds to me like they're using it as code language and want to know if you're picking up on the differences in behavior that they are after. It sounds like they're trying to draw a comparison between a reactive caretaker (account management) and someone who proactively works to identify clients' needs, responds by presenting the client the company's products that will address those needs, and actively works to ensure the clients' satisfaction and continued patronage of the company.

That's just a guess of course, but if someone ask me to talk to that, that's the direction I'd head in.

Ben Pike , Jan 11, 2010; 05:10 p.m.

Many thanks to all who took the time to respond. Good analogy Rose-Marie, but I feel that Chris has the measure most accurately according to the job description. Stephen, did you write the job description? I am reasonably confident that I am on the right tracks here, so thanks for the input.


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