Account Executive versus Business Developer - More Than Just Titles

While account executive and business developer titles are often used synonymously, they convey two very different meanings to salespeople.

When it comes to assigning titles to sales roles, executives often pay little mind to the inference that corresponds with them. Yet, when a salesperson is handed her title, she immediately derives a message. There are a myriad of sales titles from which to select which means take a moment of pause to select the right one for the role in your company.

One very common sales title is account executive. The inference that corresponds with the account executive title is that the company has a well-defined strategy and process in place. In other words, this is a rank and file position whereby the salespeople are provided with an objective as well as a roadmap to achieve it. The one-word descriptor for the account executive is executor. Account executives execute the plan.

Another very common sales title is business developer. The inference this title conveys is that it is a very creative role. Process is rarely provided to business developers. What they get is an objective… and they are expected to chart the course to achieve it. When I hear business developer, I think Indiana Jones. "Here’s the treasure we want. Figure out how to go get it.” The one-word descriptor for this sales role is entrepreneur. The business developer creates the plan and executes it.

Before you assign a title to your sales role, take a look at your business needs. If you have a well-defined process, hire an account executive. Looking for entrepreneurship? Hire a business developer.

See you next time on the Sales Management Minute.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tami Molitor October 13, 2012 at 04:09 PM
We are looking for a combo of each to join our team. There is a success system in place to follow, yet one can use their creative ability to design their plan for growth according to their own time schedule. There is also no territory restrictions with in the U.S.A.
Lee B. Salz October 15, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Thank you for commenting, Tami!


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