Different types of businesses require different types of sales roles to meet their revenue goals. This is because each type of salesperson handles different aspects of the customer journey and relationships, and requires varying skills, experiences, personalities, and preferences in order to be successful in a sales environment. The main types of salespeople a successful sales organization would employ are sales development reps, account executives, account managers and sales managers.
1. Sales Development Representatives (SDRs)
Sales development representatives, also known as business development reps, could be considered the front line of prospecting sales leads and typically earn anywhere between $50,000 with commission as part of their salary to $80,000 per year. They make an enormous number of cold calls to prospective customers, usually to people who have no idea who they are or what they are attempting to sell, so it’s imperative they have great communication skills. SDRs typically make about 60 to 100 cold calls per day.
They are also often responsible for sending out email campaigns to leads and responding to interested prospects. SDRs are often trained to qualify prospects, at which point they typically hand the prospect off to an account executive for a short demo of their products and services.
Top SDR Skills
Sales development representatives are entry-level salespeople who are learning how to navigate the sales process. The most successful SDRs have skills such as:
- Resilience—being able to handle rejection and keep reaching out to more prospects
- Qualifying skills to find the best leads
- Time management skills—cold calls take a ton of time
- Teamwork skills with account executives
2. Account Executives
Account executives (AEs) are also often referred to as sales representatives and typically earn between $60,000 and $70,000 per year according to Indeed.com plus cash bonuses and commission. After the SDR sends them a qualified lead, they are responsible for conducting demos of products and services. They work with prospects to uncover their pain points, find the best solutions the business has to offer, overcome objections, and close deals. Once a sales deal is closed, the account executive transfers the relationship to an account manager.
Inside vs Outside Account Executives
While all account executives have similar types of duties, there’s an important distinction between outside sales reps and inside sales reps. Outside sales reps work in the field, usually meeting prospects in person. They typically work within a certain sales territory or type of business, such as corporate organizations, small businesses, or global organizations.
On the other hand, inside sales reps mostly work remotely, or at a company’s office. They demo products and services to customers using phone, email, and video conferencing services. They usually aren’t limited to a certain geographical territory, but they may specialize in selling certain products, services, or types of businesses, similar to outside sales reps.
Pro tip: Inside sales reps typically have more success when using video conferencing tools rather than just a phone call, since being able to see one another and decipher body language builds rapport and trust. Zoom is an excellent, easy-to-use video conferencing software many inside sales organizations use to communicate with prospects and customers.
Top Account Executive Skills
Account executives often handle a large number of sales opportunities at one time and work in a high-pressure environment. Some of the top skills for account executives include:
- Building trust and rapport with prospects
- Being able to understand prospects’ pain points to match them with the best products and services
- Understanding and overcoming objections
- Being highly organized and able to manage their time appropriately
- Negotiation skills to effectively close deals and meet sales goals
3. Account Managers
Once a deal has been closed, account managers (AMs) are the people responsible for working with new customers and ensuring they have a great overall experience. They onboard and train new customers so they get the most they can out of the new products or services. Account managers also continuously find opportunities to cross-sell and upsell products and services to earn more revenue while making, on average, $63,000 per year plus cash bonus and commission.
Pro tip: The most successful small businesses foster a smooth transition between the account executive and account manager as soon as a deal is closed. This can be done through a phone call, a quick video conference call, or even sending a video where the AE introduces the new customer to the AM and outlines what they should expect next.
This is also a good reason to implement a customer relationship management (CRM) program to manage your customer relationships. Salesforce, for example, makes it easy to assign sales reps based on a variety of criteria
Key Account Managers
Much like account managers, but they may handle a lower number of high-priority customers rather than a higher number of small business accounts. These are accounts that spend a lot of money on products and services and have a high level of opportunity for upselling and cross-selling. Therefore, they often need more time and attention from a key account manager with specialized knowledge about these accounts.
Top Account Managers Skills
Account managers are a crucial sales role because they are the people who retain and help build new business with referrals by happy customers. Some of the skills the best account managers have include:
- Building rapport quickly with new customers who may be nervous about using a new product or service
- Understanding and even anticipating the needs of customers to create upselling opportunities
- Researching changes and trends in the industry of the customers
- Listening skills and high attention to detail so they can find opportunities to sell additional products and services.
4. Sales Managers
Sales managers are responsible for supporting, training, motivating, and coaching the entire sales team. They manage the performance of individual sales team members, help close difficult deals and overcome objections, and provide opportunities for team members to grow through internal and third-party professional development programs. They are also compensated for this additional responsibility with a base salary ranging between $73,000 and $90,000 plus cash bonus and commission potential.
Sales managers must also compile regular sales reports to assess how well the sales team is performing as a whole. They typically have to present sales reports to the executive team and explain variations in growth and revenue.
Top Sales Managers Skills
Sales managers have a big job, and they are typically natural leaders. The skills the best sales managers have often include:
- Being able to see the big picture; even when things aren’t going as well as they’d like, they can easily pivot and steer the team in the right direction
- Knowing how to motivate high performers with recognition and rewards
- Finding innovative solutions to support and train low performers
- Communicating with people at all levels of the company, even up to the C-suite
- Excellent analytics skills for forecasting and developing new sales strategies
- Leadership skills; a great sales manager is a leader their team wants to follow (rather than a dictator), and gets in the trenches with them
Deciding Where to Place New Salespeople
When you’ve decided to hire a new salesperson, it can sometimes be a challenge to figure out which sales role they would thrive best in. There are many factors in play, but you should consider the following:
- Experience: Someone new to sales with less than one to two years of experience is probably best suited to start as an SDR. On the other hand, someone with several years of experience managing sales teams may make a great sales manager.
- Personal preference: Include the employee’s preferences in where they would be most successful. If they feel they would enjoy and thrive in managing accounts as an AM rather than closing deals as an AE, consider giving them the opportunity.
- Current needs: The current needs of your sales organization should always be a priority. For example, if you already have five SDRs but you need a new account executive, find the right fit for the roles you need rather than hiring another SDR for fit alone.
Tools Salespeople Use to Work Together Efficiently
While every different type of salesperson has various roles and responsibilities, small businesses benefit from using tools that help them collaborate and organize their work. Some of the tools many sales organizations use include:
- A customer relationship management (CRM) program. These help sales teams organize their pipeline, view communications with prospects and customers, and more. Most CRMs have a mobile app, making it easy for outside sales reps to update information on the go.
- Scheduling tools to make it easy to plan meetings and demos with prospects and customers. For example, Calendly is a great option that allows you to connect with your calendar and lets customers choose a meeting time rather than having to email back and forth.
- Video conferencing tools are great options for inside sales reps who meet with their customers remotely.
- Internal communication tools help the entire sales team stay connected with transparent communication. Slack is a great option with a free plan that helps teams collaborate and communicate effectively.
- Task management tools help sales teams organize their responsibilities and prioritize their tasks. Trello is a great option for teams that want a visual, customizable dashboard.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why does my business need more than one type of salesperson?
Every salesperson comes with a different set of skills and experience. Having different types of salespeople responsible for varying sales functions throughout the customer experience provides a streamlined process for prospecting, selling, and onboarding customers.
How do I decide what kind of salesperson a new hire should be?
Consider your current business needs, the experience of every new hire, and their personal preferences. You should also assess their ability to be coached and trained for a new position.
What kinds of characteristics do all types of successful salespeople typically have?
The best salespeople—no matter their specific responsibilities—are usually quite competitive. They are also highly organized, collaborative, have good time management skills, and can build trust with prospects and customers with ease.
Bottom Line: Different Types of Salespeople
Every business is different depending on their sales culture and the products and services they sell. However, every small business benefits from having an array of talented salespeople who streamline the sales process from prospecting leads to onboarding new clients and providing a seamless customer experience.
Most sales teams use a CRM to help the different types of salespeople organize their communications and sales opportunities. Salesforce Essentials allows salespeople to transparently manage tasks to stay on top of customer relationships and track deals so nothing falls through the cracks. Visit their website today to sign up for a 14-day free trial.