Over my career I’ve had various job titles in sales:

  • Account Executive
  • Sales Manager
  • Account Manager
  • Business Development Manager
  • Business Manager
  • Client Management
The names have changed, but the role of a sales person is still the same.
Peter Thiel in his book Zero to One talked about how many people disguise the fact that they are in sales. He included sales people disguised in professions such as politics and financial planning.
William Shakespeare’s Juliet made the following observation about names:
‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.
(Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare)

I believe many sales titles are meaningless because they are attached to outdated business practices. If my job was a Project Manager then you would expect me to be managing projects. Then what does an Account Manager do? Do they manage accounts? It reminds me of the day when opening an account with a supplier was a lengthy processes. It required clerks, forms, pigeon holes and paper processing… Straight from last century!Unless you belong to a very old fashioned industry, the setting up of an account should not require a manager! It should take 5 minutes to enter the details into a CRM.

“Account Executive” has been defined from the supplier’s perspective. As a customer I would prefer to be dealing with a Client Relationship Manager or Client Engagement Officer. It gives me an impression that they want to help solve my problems.