Account executives and sales development representatives are essential for business growth, but how do their roles differ from one another? This blog will help you understand each role’s responsibilities and why you need both for sustainable sales development.
Account executives (AEs) are primarily responsible for building and maintaining relationships with existing clients to ensure they’re satisfied with a company’s product or service offerings. However, they can also spend a large portion of their time engaging with potential customers who are ready to buy.
The role of an AE is often combined with the sales executive (or sales representative) role because many small to medium-sized businesses don’t find the need to separate the two roles. However, as your business grows, so should your sales and account teams, allowing them to spend more time doing what they do best.
For small to medium-sized businesses, AEs are solely responsible for:
AEs enter the sales process when a potential buyer moves from being a qualified lead to seriously considering investing in your company’s product or service. Whether they are reaching out to a prospect to answer questions or following up on a proposal they sent out, the account executive must maintain constant communication to win the prospect’s business.
Even when a prospect seems interested, it can be challenging to convince them to commit to buying from your company. During the last steps of a business deal, AEs give prospects one final push across the sales finish line. They do this by confidently negotiating the pricing, terms, and conditions of the business deal.
Addressing Client Needs
Customers have very high expectations in today’s market. They expect AEs to walk them through the sales process and have an answer to every question that comes up. To close deals with your potential clients, AEs must empathize with them and understand their needs while demonstrating how your products or services can provide relief to their issues.
AEs can only make sales if they thoroughly understand your prospective client’s pain points and can articulate how your solution can solve their challenges. Having extensive client knowledge is especially important when the prospect chooses between several companies for the same service. An AE must be persuasive, knowledgeable, and trustworthy to convince future clients to partner with your business.
Without account executives, your business would be hard-pressed to close deals. AEs do a lot of the heavy lifting required to win business. AEs are responsible for managing appointment follow-ups, product demonstrations, and driving revenue.
The one-on-one time an AE spends with customers empowers them to identify opportunities for upselling or cross-selling. Their conversations with decision-makers shed light on the prospect’s specific needs, and AEs use that information to match them with the right products and services for their business. When AEs find custom solutions to your prospects’ problems, they’re more likely to win their business.
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Sales development representatives (SDRs) are responsible for introducing new business opportunities in the sales pipeline. They are tasked with finding prospects, converting them into qualified leads, and nurturing their relationship until they’re ready to schedule a sales meeting with an account or sales executive.
Process That SDR Teams Follow
While AEs are responsible for closing deals, SDRs focus on generating leads. SDRs reach out to prospects who may be interested in your company’s product or service offerings. When communicating with potential clients for the first time, SDRs introduce your company and offer a high-level overview of why your company would be a good fit for their needs.
An SDR can determine if the prospect is likely to become a client from the initial conversation. If there’s an opportunity to close business, the SDR continues building the relationship over time until the lead is toward the end of the buying cycle. However, if the prospect is unlikely to close business, the SDR moves them out of the sales pipeline, so they don’t waste their time chasing leads that are unlikely to convert into customers.
There are many ways SDRs can get in touch with potential clients, such as cold calling, reaching out on social media, or responding to inquiries on your website. Since SDRs are responsible for creating a large pool of prospects to pitch your products or services, their performance is measured by how efficiently they move leads through a sales pipeline.
Once an SDR identifies a lead who’s ready to buy, they set up a sales appointment between the decision-maker and an account executive. During this meeting, the account executive can present the lead with a sales presentation that aligns with their needs, increasing the likelihood of converting them from a lead into a customer.
If you want your business to have access to a predictable sales pipeline, you need a strong SDR team. While SDRs focus on keeping the pipeline full of qualified leads, your account executives can spend time finalizing sales and closing significant business opportunities.
When SDRs and AEs work together, AEs are more likely to close deals and boost conversion rates. SDRs specialize in turning prospects into potential clients, and AEs specialize in persuading potential clients and finalizing the sale. Together, they increase revenue for your business and ideally result in a positive ROI.
Not sure where to start with building your SDR team? Download our free guide to explore who should be involved in a high-performing SDR team and how to approach it right the first time.
Benefits of SDR as a Service
Sales development representatives play a crucial role in generating sales for your company. If you don’t have the time or resources to build a successful team of SDRs, outsourced sales development companies are a great solution for SDR as a service. If you want your business to get off the ground, it is vital to incorporate SDRs into your sales process as early as possible.
With a strong team of SDRs supporting your company from the start, you can develop rapport with other businesses and establish roots in your industry. SDRs provide many benefits for your business, including the ability to:
Investing in SDR as a service can significantly reduce costs for your growing business. By outsourcing, you don’t have to worry about hiring, training, or paying your own staff of SDRs. Instead, you get instant access to experienced salespeople for a fee that doesn’t negatively impact your company’s bottom line. Additionally, you can take advantage of all the advanced sales tools and technologies your outsourced sales company already has in place.
Implementing a sales strategy that yields results is a time-consuming process. By partnering with a sales development company, you can save time hiring, onboarding, and training new employees, leading to more leads and more revenue. Rather than taking at least three months to start producing leads, SDR as a service can get you appointments with prospective clients within the first few months live.
Have High-Performing Sales Reps
When outsourcing your sales development representatives, you can ensure that you build your team correctly the first time around. Outsourced sales development companies have access to the best salespeople, tools, and technology for generating leads and building a high-converting client pool. You’ll see immediate benefits after partnering with an outsourced provider because your company will have access to high-performing sales and marketing experts.
When developing a solid sales process, you need both sales development representatives and account executives to generate new business opportunities. The primary difference between an account executive and a sales development representative is where they work in the sales cycle. While SDRs work with outbound prospecting and lead generation, AEs work to nurture leads and ultimately close sales.
However, it’s important to remember that it takes more than high-performing SDRs and AEs to make a sales process consistent and sustainable for the long haul. Download our guide here to explore who should be involved on your outbound SDR team!
At Abstrakt Marketing Group, we assemble a team of high-performing SDRs to help clients set sales appointments with decision-makers. Our SDRs are well-equipped to provide account executives with qualified leads ready to make a purchase. If you need a hand generating high-converting sales meetings, contact the sales reps at Abstrakt!