In software sales, which is better: account executive (new business, fewer accounts, and outbound) or account management (existing account growth and revenue analysis)?

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JASON LEMKIN

“Better” is hard to say but what is clear is that the Account Management role in SaaS is a much more fluid, in transition role.

In recurring revenue, the sale is just the start of a multi-year journey. How do you approach upsell and account growth after the “sale”? Boy it varies:

  • Some SaaS companies just do this through Customer Success. There is no sales component at all. This can work well, but it often leaves money on the table.
  • Some SaaS companies partner sales and account management through a long tail, e.g. 1 year. Many API/B2D companies do this in particular. Any revenue through Day 365 after a deal signed is managed by both Sales and Account Management, and then just Account Management after.
  • Many experienced SaaS companies are using much more sophisticated analyses on Account Management. The job is become much more data-driven.

What has certainly changed is the Old School version of an Account Manager that only helps a customer if there is a chance of a big upsell is a bit … dead and dated. It still exists, but paradigm worked much better in the licensed software days.

Account Management is no longer a traditional sales job in SaaS. It’s much more fluid and nuanced.

This means if you can adapt and adjust to the new paradigm, you’ll have a very valuable skill set many will struggle to excel at. If you can’t, I would stick to “traditional” sales.

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Published on May 17, 2018
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