Account managers are marketing consultants. Some companies place the job title of account executive or account manager on the function of a sales position, so it doesn’t sound too “sales-y.” This paints the “sales” function in a bad light just as much as it completely misrepresents the role of actual account managers.
Among a few industries, there’s been a mucking about of changing titles to better guise the intention of aggressive sales agents. Occasionally, when I hear someone being introduced as an account manager – bystander defenses go up in response, as this must-be a veiled, high-pressure sales person. “But I really am an account manager!”
When your task is to make 15-25 phone calls per day on new prospects because of the churn in your business, then you’re in business development and not really managing accounts.
From businessdictionary.com: An account manager is an employee whose job is the day-to-day support of a particular customer’s account with a business, and who serves as the primary point of contact between the customer and the company. The account manager position can provide customer support, technical support, planning and optimization for the account, as well as developing a relationship with the customer. (http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/account-manager.html#ixzz3zarriznu)
This is not a hunter and gatherer. It is not business development or “sales.” The position is for marketing consultants.
At the same time “sales” in itself isn’t bad. We are all always selling. We are always demonstrating our ability and convincing people of something. We are strengthening the idea we are trustworthy – or that we aren’t. We are selling the thought we know what we’re talking about – or that we don’t. CPAs sell their attention to detail and current knowledge of accounting. Mechanics sell their ability to be trustworthy and capable of fixing a problem. In retail, in food service, in website coding, IT, real estate and surgery – we are all selling our ability to fill a role. The better we do, the busier we get.
But we are not all account managers. True account executives are those who cultivate – cultivate the relationship, the scope of work, (and in the advertising and marketing world) cultivate the brand and market penetration, the margin, the status, and sometimes the budget. The goal for the account manager is to cultivate.
We are living in a refreshingly new era of authenticity. Kudos to many sales managers who call their staff sales reps or business development specialists and encourage them to own the role.
In the meantime, you’ll still have to decipher the intentions of that newly introduced account manager.