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

“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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