Are You More a Business Developer or Account Manager?

May 27
In any sales organisation, there needs to be at least two functions that must happen consistently. A funnel of new business and managing existing accounts. But which role is the best fit for you? A business developer or account manager.

Historically, the entire spectrum of the sales process was handled by a single salesperson, and companies struggled to gain new accounts as the salespeople were focused on customer retention, with little time to prospect new customers.

Over time companies have learned that the talents of a good Business Development Manager differ from those of an Account Manager. So when companies reach sufficient size to afford the change, the roles are broken up into two main roles: Business Development Managers and Account Managers.

Let’s take a look into each of these roles to assist you in getting a better understanding of what they are responsible for in the company.

Starting first with the Business Development Manager, often written as the acronyms BDM.

Role of a BDM
The BDM is responsible for new customer acquisition and all stages of the sales process. They are also charged with lead management of marketing-generated leads to the outcome of a sale. In addition, BDM is required to secure signed orders and operate to budgets typically measured monthly or quarterly and yearly.

Depending on the company, its product and go-to-market (GTM) strategy, there can be two versions of this sales role. For example, some companies may have both inbound and outbound BDMs, while others may have just one of those.

Most growth companies have both an inbound and outbound BDM team structure. Inbound is often referred to as inside sales, and outbound people attend field appointments. Companies often start newly hired salespeople as inbound BDMs and promote them to outbound BDMs after a short time due to the difference in the nature of conversations with customers. In addition, being an inside person allows for easier onboarding and training.

The difference in the conversations being:
  • Inbound leads already have an intention in place and actively seek information from companies to solve a business challenge or problem.
  • Outbound leads are often unsolicited, and customers, therefore, have much less patience in dealing with a salesperson unless they can quickly establish relevance for their product or service to the prospect’s business or role.

As such, a successful outbound BDM requires the ability to think quickly on their feet, along with a sound understanding of their company’s product to align it to the customer’s business. They must also possess a high level of emotional intelligence to read potential customers and respond appropriately. They are responsible for gaining signatures to proceed with proposals of products/services.

If someone is highly successful in the BDM role, they are well rewarded financially for their skills and often earn high incomes year-on-year.
Their longevity in the role is often much shorter than their counterparts in Account Management, as companies raise their sales goals and can make the role too difficult to deliver forecasted goals. This is also highly dependant on the organisation and their specific needs to grow and support their product. Another reason for churn is the disagreement over commission payments. As a result, many BDMs depart companies believing they have been financially compromised.
Looking at a Career as a BDM?
Research the employer to better understand their organisation, the support they provide BDMs and the results of others working in similar roles. Understand their growth plans and check how realistic they are in competitive markets.

Role of an AM
The role of an Account Manager is to manage customers after they have made their initial purchase with the BDM. For many companies, their reliance on existing customers is the core of their growth strategy: they grow through their customers. Therefore, customer loyalty is one of the highest values of the company.

An account manager is ideally a partner with their customer. A relied upon resource that oversees sales and customer service activities and develops relationships with customers. In addition, account managers are responsible for growing their accounts and generating new sales opportunities through cross-selling and up-selling.

Like the BDM roles, and depending on the companies size and geographical coverage, there can be three versions of this sales role.
  • Territory Managers are often also known as Account Managers. They are responsible for working with customers within a specific geographical area. These roles are a great way of learning how to manage accounts and build strong relationships with your customers and, in most cases, are selling with a set price list and orders being placed directly with the office.
  • Key Account Managers are experienced account managers who can deal with more complex issues such as pricing agreements, services, and service agreements. Their employer well values their commercial knowledge and interest in gross margins.
  • National Account Managers are highly experienced salespeople capable of negotiating major contracts. They understand how to develop customer dependency on the company and block competitors through multi-year agreements. Key Account Managers and Territory Managers often work with their customers overseeing the day-to-day delivery of the national agreement.

Looking at a Career as an AM?

You may also be interested in reading - Your Guide On How To Have A Successful Career in Sales

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