Well first we need to make the distinction between what the roles of an IT Account Manager and an IT BDM actually do.
Loosely we can describe these as:
An IT Account Manager is a ‘Farmer’
The Farmer or IT Account Manager looks after current accounts and ‘farms’ the opportunities. They manage the relationship, ensuring the solution is solving their client’s problems and are often incentivised to spot sales opportunities and 'up sell' as they arise.
An IT Business Development Manager (BDM) is a ‘Hunter’
The Hunter, or IT Business Development Manager blazes the trail often looking into new markets, untapped potential researching opportunities, strategically targeting new areas or areas already known by building new relationships with key decision makers by networking, ‘getting in front’ face-to-face and understanding if their product & service can solve that problem for a potential customer / prospect.
Both roles share similar attributes in that candidates have:
Great communication skills
Excellent people skills / understanding of how to influence
Well presented / in-line with their customers
Responsive & Proactive
Well organised & experts at time management
Excellent presentation & face-to-face skills
Good rapport & relationship builders
Good product or service knowledge of their solution
‘Knowledge workers’ - excellent understanding of their market / industry
So what are the killer attributes needed specifically for the two roles…..
Farmers need to have patience and can often be involved in training, implementation & support aspects (depending on the role / company). They need to have a ‘long game perspective’ with the ultimate goal to keep the client happy but also keep abreast of contact changes within an organisation, being aware of these & ensuring they can utilise these successfully through times of organisational change. They have superb influencing skills, are able to think on their feet and come up with win / win situations to always keep the customer relationship positive and moving it forward.
Hunters often need to have that killer instinct to ‘put themselves’ out there & take a few risks. It can be a real art for strong BDMs to turn what look like ‘cold calls’ into ‘warm calls’ through strong market knowledge & influencing skills, contacts they know from a large network often built up over many years. These experts know people - and lots of them. Hunters look at opportunities short, medium & long-term knowing that some of the large clients / big deals can take years to develop, win the business & close. They also give themselves the opportunity to make revenue from ‘low hanging fruit’ in the short & medium term by having strong market knowledge and are sometimes referred to as ‘knowledge workers’ adding value to clients and becoming trusted partners & expert advisors within their speciality or industry. They are brave, tenacious & extremely motivated.
Again, what both roles have in common is the understanding of revenue targets and ‘making their number’. Some account management roles can be incentivised more on a referral basis, passing qualified leads to the ‘sales person’ to follow up. BDMs have clear targets that need to be met being a more pure sales role to bring in significant revenue with their remuneration often structured with a large commission component.
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I'm Founder & Principal Consultant of Sunstone, an IT Recruitment & HR company specialising in recruiting IT roles within IT Sales (Account Management / BDM), Data Science, Data Engineering, Software, Web, Mobile, Development & Networks in Christchurch & South Island of New Zealand.