Most vendors’ have reps, but many do not have a clear definition of what their rep’s job function is. Is the candidate a sales rep or an account manager? Or, are they expected to be a hybrid of these very different things depending on the day?
After all, account managers tend to be order takers, in the lighter sense of the term, or customer managers, facilitating the day-to-day administration of the various programs that the vendor sponsors.
Sales reps spend their day prospecting, looking for the next good fit, all while protecting the territory of their existing customer base. And, since territory overlap is one of the more thorny issues facing the cabinet industry, they spend a lot of time walking a tightrope.
Typically an account manager acts as a liaison between customer service and sales. Their goal is to maintain the vendor’s book of business, service any fieldwork, and take share of any competitors who may look to do the same to them.
Some of the key characteristics of a farmer are:
- Project manager-planning the strategic goals of both companies and reviewing on a regular basis.
- Relationship manager-maintaining and improving the personal and business relationships of the companies within the outlines of company policy.
- Sales manager-forecasting sales and planning activities to augment those sales over time.
In short, an account manager is more of a solution seller, in that they maintain the existing book of business within their defined list of products and services.
A salesperson is, by definition a skilled negotiator. The sales world is not filled with sales enablement, but more of sales negotiation. While an account manager may look to displace a competitor in a more relationship driven approach, a salesperson may demand it and make it a necessity before they can move forward together.
Some of the key characteristics of a hunter are:
- Qualifier-searching and closing on relationships that convert qualified targets to buyers.
- Relationship starter-someone who is not fearful of the cold call and can turn that call into a potential sale.
- Needs assessor-developing the case (pre-approach) and presenting that need (approach).
- Negotiator-having the ability to handle objections and overcome same.
Can These Two Become One?
Most companies want these functions to be handled by one individual. The thought is that the guy or gal who goes out and listens to why someone’s kitchen is ruined because of a knot in a door should also be the right individual to make a kill and drag it back to the den for the family to feast on, also known as closing the sale.
One of our favorite references to a hunter is in the 8-minute tirade that Alec Baldwin goes on in Glengary Glenn Ross. The ‘coffee is for closers’ attitude is certainly not reminiscent of farmer. If you have any doubts, watch that clip…