Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


I’m In Sales, I’m An Account Manager – No, You’re Not In Sales - March 24, 2018

As springtime approaches resumes from soon-to-be college graduates start flowing in. I am receiving at least a dozen every week now seeking a variety of positions. Although I am not in hiring mode right now I do take time to read them. Unfortunately, they frustrate me for a variety of reasons.


One such frustration is the continued lack of understanding that an account management position, although a close relative to the sales position, is in fact not the same. To paraphrase an old saying, there is hunting and there is farming. Hunting is sales while farming is account management.


With account management comes a set of requirements that a sales role must also have, such as solid relationship building and management skills, good follow through, excellent communications skills, and a general likability. Sales, however, requires a much greater sense of urgency. Sales typically is a commission driven role that requires negotiation skills, a take no prisoner attitude while maintaining ones composure, and again a sense of urgency. Did I mention sales must have a sense of urgency.


I find today’s younger generation of professionals lacking in a sense of urgency. Many think they want to be in sales because it offers freedom and flexibility during the work week, an opportunity to entertain clients, and a high-level compensation package. Yet, when someone with experience explains the sacrifices it takes to be successful in sales, the long hours, dedication to the craft, not being handed accounts on a silver platter, well then they balk and look for the easy route, the account management position.


Last year I spoke to a group of graduating college seniors about life as a sales person. I engaged my audience in conversation rather than presenting to them. It struck me as odd that everyone believed sales, account management, and marketing are so intertwined that they did not know the difference. Moreover, most of these young ladies and gentlemen thought they had the skills already in place to be paid a high base salary, work no more than 40 hours per week, did not want to travel, expected company benefits (including a car or car allowance for sales roles), and the key phrase I noticed was “they expected it”.


Many companies have account management positions, and they can play a vital role in an organization, but account management and sales are certainly not one in the same. I believe we, those of us who’ve been in sales for most of our careers, owe it to this new, young, and up & coming generation to educate on the role sales plays and what it takes to be in sales. We need qualified sales people to grow and replace us at some point. It is our responsibility to guide them toward career choices and to help them understand the difference between account management and sales. It will benefit them greatly and it will benefit us as well.

Comments are closed