In this day and age, when companies have so many salespeople out in the field, what is the best title for them? Sales Representative? Account Executive?
— Ron Brown, President, Shippers Supply Inc., Edmonton, Canada
Dave Griffith: I really don’t think it matters as long as you are consistent across the organization and the job title describes the assignment so your customers can understand. I also like offering a career path that is understandable by the entire organization. I would look at how you title capital and aftermarket folks so the organization and customers understand their mission and the importance in your organization. Over time, we are looking at these as equal positions. However, if an individual can sell, and this is an ego issue, I would pick a different battle.
Ken MacDonald: Perhaps today’s salespeople should be called “Special Ops.” They are sent out alone to conquer the market with technological tools of the trade. Instead of saturation territory coverage, they must now use database marketing and a contact system. With that said, each market may respond to titles by convention. Perhaps Account Manager is most appropriate for they truly manage the account. They are the key contact persons between the customer and supplier. Those who manage the account well will maximize the profit potential of that account and the retention of the account will be secured.
John Cosgrove: When considering the title of a sales associate, you must carefully choose one that best describes your organization. If you’re trying to portray an image of an engineering- based sales organization, the titles of Sales Engineer or System Integrator may be appropriate. For distributors with no engineering requirements who tend to sell specific products, the title of Sales Representative or Account Manager is fine. I’ve found, over the years, that oftentimes you have to be all of the above, so we leave the title off our business cards, which allows our people the flexibility to evaluate our customers’ needs and then respond accordingly.
Mike Dubbs: At Storage Equipment, most of our outside sales personnel do not use titles. However, those who do, use “Storage Specialist” which effectively communicates their expertise.
Jim Ripkey: I have always been preferential to the title of Account Manager. In our business, our culture is to have someone at the center of the relationship team with the client. This person essentially manages not only the equipment relationship, but also the comprehensive services our clients need in the support of their equipment, facilities and systems. The Account Manager works with others on the team such as a Product Support Specialist, a Storage & Handling Manager, a Service Team Leader, and a Parts Specialist in order to deliver solutions to the client.
Bob Weeks: We let each salesperson choose a title that is appropriate to their experience, education or job responsibility level. For instance, if a salesperson has an engineering degree, he might use Sales Engineer. If someone handles major accounts, he could be a Major Account Manager or Key Account Manager. In other words, whatever is most appropriate