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August 15, 2023
May 7, 2020

Sales functions 101 - Hiring and positions

Hiring your next salesperson? Not sure what position you should be posting? We've got you covered. We have collected some of the most common sales functions and what they mean (well, at least how we would define those).

Of course, there is no clear cut Wikipedia article or crystal clear definition for the different sales positions. Some people mention business development when they mean sales or account management. Others label everything that is not tech “sales” or “marketing,” no matter the position. Salespeople as well, refer to tech or admin for any role outside their domain. We hope our list gives you a clearer picture and what you can expect from the different salespeople you hire.

Account management:

Relationship with the client(s) is already established, usually in terms of an umbrella contract. The role of the account manager is to leverage the liaison. Widen the scope of cooperation, manage customer relationships, and increase customer satisfaction. Learn more about the different business units and the various decision making processes. To put it simply: farm the client for more.

Business development:

Typically early phase sales, when strategic thinking is required for most business opportunities. No two deals are the same (yet), so one-off, consultative type selling, mostly lucrative in a high-ticket business. The sales cycle is long, setbacks are expected, and they need to be managed. Strong strategic thinking, problem-solving attitude, excellent networking, and in-person communication skills.


Your company already has a sort of template sales process, and also some track record. Salespeople get the leads either from marketing or the telesales team. They go by the process, and the primary responsibility is to understand the exact requirements, create proposals, do follow-ups, manage objections, and, ultimately, close deals. Most of the thinking required is to size up and classify opportunities appropriately and handle objections. It requires good administrative attitude, the humility to stick with the process, timely follow-ups and reliability


People sitting on the phone creating either leads or, if possible, even closing deals on the phone (like renewing support contracts). High communication skills, enduring the tiresome job of making cold approaches all day. Can take monotony, loves to talk on the phone rather than meet people in person, can take rejection easily.

Account-based sales:

This is the new acronym of “we don’t have a clue on how sales work.” Usually, it involves consultative selling and high ticket sales, with behemoth accounts. Your job is to find a possibly unique entry into the organization and figure out a way to make a deal. Without any actual process, help, or clear cut value proposition. Preferably large outsourcing deals in software or other business.

Is there any position we didn’t include on the list? Let us know. And remember, the job titles might not indicate the exact role. However, you should always seek to understand what exactly the role entails when assessing your new hire.

Can we help you? AbilityMatrix mentors are regularly available for free StartUp Office Hours. Our mentoring sessions provide you the opportunity to introduce and discuss your project in about an hour. Would you need an honest, independent and sometimes harsh viewpoint – just book a session! Schedule a session: