Account Manager Vs. Sales Representative

Account managers and sales representatives differ in their degree requirements, salaries, and career outlooks, as well as the responsibilities they carry.

Comparing Account Managers to Sales Representatives

Account managers and sales representatives are often tasked with bringing revenue to a company. For the former, this may mean working with an account to develop marketing solutions, but the latter means selling products to individuals and companies.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)**
Account Managers Bachelor's Degree $52,045 7% (Sales Managers)
Sales Representatives High School Diploma $41,523 6% (Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives)

Sources: *PayScale, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Account Managers vs. Sales Representatives

Account managers work with client companies as they develop and grow by offering them services that will help. Sales representatives also offer clients the chance to purchase goods and services, but their main goal is sales. The professionals in these careers may be expected to travel frequently to attend trainings and meetings. Additionally, to better sell the products and services their companies offer, both account managers and sales representatives may complete product demonstrations to entice potential buyers.

Account Managers

To understand a client's business procedures and goals, account managers meet or conference with the company's leaders. To meet fiscal goals, they offer options to market products more effectively, such as implementing search engine optimization, or SEO, for web searches or advertising on social media. They may also meet with members of the community and potential customers to learn what they look for in a product or service similar to that of the client's. This helps toward building positive public relations for the client, as it matches the target audience with the values and offerings of the organization.

Job responsibilities of an account manager include:

  • Helping an account build their business through product development and customer surveys
  • Working with creative departments, such as product designers or graphic designers, to build and solidify the client's brand
  • Securing payment from client accounts by invoicing bills and collecting amounts owed
  • Offering special pricing to clients with existing accounts to maintain a good relationship with them

Sales Representatives

First, sales representatives should be aware of the needs of their clients, both new and old. By following 'leads' found in the business directory and updating customer records, they are able to offer products and services that are tailored to the client. During the conversation, representatives define the items and explain how the software, machines, or even tax services can meet their client's business goals. To be most effective, representatives should research the features of the latest products and services offered by their company. This may require attending trade shows and conferences where new products are released.

Job responsibilities of a sales representative include:

  • Researching the competition to offer their clients better deals
  • Negotiating prices and possibly offering special pricing for bulk or returning customers
  • Answering client questions regarding the availability and features of products and services
  • Placing orders for processing by warehouses or service teams

Related Careers

If a position as an account manager appeals to you, it may be helpful to explore a career as a marketing director because both focus on boosting sales. Meanwhile, if you're curious about a career as a sales representative, you could research a position as a sales engineer, since both aim to gain new clients who will purchase goods.


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