Four Differences Between Sales and Account Management

By Erika Sommer, Content Writer at PipelineDeals

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Sales and account management share many of the same characteristics. But while sales people primarily focus on prospecting and closing deals, an account management team never stops selling. Sales brings in the customers, and account management nurtures and helps them grow.

So, how does each function separately? And how can they work together?

We’ve highlighted the key differences between the two, with the intent of helping you understand elements of each, and how they work in tandem.

1. Pre-Sale vs. Post-Sale

Traditionally, a sales team is responsible for bringing in new business. And the relationship they develop with leads and prospects is transactional.

Once a prospect is converted to a customer, the sales team will transfer ownership of the client to account management. From there, it’s up to the account management team to develop a relationship with the customer, in order to help them grow their business.

Historically, the sales process is focused on conversion, while account management is about delighting the customer.

So, how can account managers keep their clients captive, post-sale? By preventing them from going to the competition, and establishing and cultivating relationships.   

2. Hunting vs. Farming

An easy way to visualize sales and account management is through the analogy of hunting and farming. In sales, being a hunter means scouting out your prey (prospects) and capturing them (converting them to customers).

On the other hand, account management is comparable to farming. You may be focused on expanding your crop (business), but you’re also focused on cultivating what you have (growing business relationships). If you don’t nurture, the crops will die. The same goes for customers. If you don’t have a method in place for catering to your customers’ needs, they will drop off and find something better.  


3. Shorter Cadence vs. Longer Cadence

Sales and account management each follow a very different cadence. Most sales people know that there’s no telling how long it will take to close a deal. It may take weeks, months, or years.  

But even so, once the deal is won, the customer is handed off to another department—usually account management, and the sales job is done.

In account management, you never stop selling. You’re constantly nurturing and expanding your customer base. The sale is the easy part. Maintaining and growing your relationships with clients is another feat.

4. Short Term vs. Long Term Profit

In sales, the strategy circles around profit up front. You close the deal, and get paid. Whereas account management is much more long term. You spend months developing relationships with customers, with the hope that they will upgrade, renew, extend contracts, and stay with you for the long term. You won’t see a payout right away, but after you develop the relationship.

To Conclude

While sales and account management share many of the same features, they differ in their approach to customers. Sales teams focus on the end game, while account management focuses on developing the relationship.

Here at PipelineDeals, we’re taking account management to the next level. We just launched a suite of powerful customer management features for handling your post-sale relationships. With our tools, you’ll be able to help your customers start, develop, and grow their businesses.

Interested in learning more about PipelineDeals, and customer management? Check out our training video. Or, sign up for a free, 14-day trial.