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Account Manager vs. Sales Manager: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A career in sales can be very rewarding, but it’s important to understand the different types of sales positions before you begin your job search. Two common roles in sales are that of an account manager and a sales manager. Though these positions share some similarities, there are several key differences between them.

In this article, we discuss the differences between an account manager and a sales manager, and we provide tips for pursuing a career in sales.

What is an Account Manager?

Account Managers are responsible for maintaining and growing relationships with existing customers. They work closely with sales, marketing and customer service teams to ensure that the customer’s needs are being met and that they are satisfied with the product or service. Account Managers typically have a background in sales or customer service and are familiar with the company’s products or services. They work to identify any upsell or cross-sell opportunities with existing customers. Account Managers typically create and maintain a customer contact list and customer profile information.

What is a Sales Manager?

Sales Managers are responsible for leading and motivating a team of salespeople in order to hit targets and achieve objectives. They work with their team to create sales plans, strategies and quotas. They also provide guidance on product knowledge and closing techniques. Sales Managers also work closely with other departments within the company, such as marketing, to ensure that the sales team has the resources and support they need to be successful. In addition to managing and leading a team, Sales Managers also spend time prospecting for new business opportunities.

Account Manager vs. Sales Manager

Here are the main differences between an account manager and a sales manager.

Job Duties

Account managers and sales managers share some job duties, like creating accounts and researching clients’ needs. However, their daily tasks can differ based on the types of clients they work with and the goals of their companies. For example, an account managers may create detailed plans for each client that include long-term strategies for working together. They often communicate with clients directly to ensure that they’re providing excellent customer service.

Sales managers usually have a broader role within their companies, overseeing all sales activity rather than one specific client relationship. They monitor sales teams to make sure employees are making quotas and using effective selling techniques. Sales managers also track data like revenue and costs to help them make decisions about future business strategies.

Job Requirements

The job requirements for an account manager and a sales manager are similar in that both positions require at least a bachelor’s degree. However, the specific degree requirements will differ depending on the company and industry. For example, some companies may prefer candidates with a degree in business administration or marketing, while others may prefer candidates with a degree in a more specific field, such as engineering or computer science. Additionally, many companies prefer candidates to have previous experience working in sales or a related field. Some companies also offer training programs for account managers and sales managers. These programs typically last several weeks or months and cover topics like product knowledge, customer service and sales techniques.

Work Environment

Account managers typically work in an office setting, but they may also travel to meet with clients. They often spend their days working on a computer and communicating with clients via email or phone calls. Sales managers usually work in an office environment as well, but they may travel more frequently than account managers because of the nature of their job.

Sales managers may spend time outside of the office meeting with clients and prospects, attending trade shows and events and traveling for business purposes. Account managers rarely travel for business purposes unless it’s necessary for them to meet with clients face-to-face.


The specific skills used on the job by account managers and sales managers can differ depending on the company, product and industry. However, both types of managers typically need to have excellent communication skills, be highly organized and be able to motivate team members.

An account manager is responsible for maintaining relationships with existing customers and ensuring they are satisfied with the products or services they are receiving. They also work to upsell customers on additional products or services that might benefit them. An account manager needs to have strong customer service skills to build and maintain positive relationships with customers. They also need to be detail-oriented to keep track of customer orders and ensure that any issues are promptly addressed.

A sales manager is responsible for leading a team of salespeople and helping them to meet their targets. A sales manager needs to be able to coach and motivate team members to reach their goals. They also need to have strong negotiation skills to help resolve conflicts between team members and to get the best deals for their products or services. In addition, a sales manager needs to be able to develop and implement sales strategies.


The average salary for an account manager is $75,495 per year, while the average salary for a sales manager is $83,778 per year. Both positions may see their salaries vary depending on the size of the company, the industry in which they work and their level of experience.


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