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Lots of companies seem to struggle with job titles for their salespeople.
For some reason, many seem leery of our favored, simple descriptor: “sales professional.” In a few circles people go to even greater lengths to hide their real function behind an innocuous name (think “real estate agent.”)
So I set out to create a list of every euphemism I could think of.
If you’ve got one of these titles, there’s a pretty good chance you’re a sales professional…
• Account Manager
• Account Representative
• Account Executive
• Account Associate
• Account Specialist
• Business Developer
Here are a few I’ve heard but wish I hadn’t…
• Merchant [admirable in the 19th century]
• Clerk [too close to a vending machine]
• Dealer [smoke and mirrors]
• Peddler [where's the bike?]
• Hawker [that just sounds disgusting]
• Salesman [it's sexist]
It’s tough for salespeople to take the profession they’re in seriously if they’re afraid of the job title that goes along with it. More importantly, using a pseudonym to cover the real purpose of a role sends a subtle message to a prospective buyer that you have something to hide.
“No, really. I’m not here to sell you anything. Can’t you tell by my business card.”
There’s really only one reason a prospective buyer meets with a salesperson (regardless of their title). It’s to exchange value. Embrace it. Stop with the clever names!
Further, in the prospect’s eyes, “Sales Executive” is the same as “Sales Consultant” which is the same as “Account Manager” which is the same as “Account Executive” which is the same as “Senior Sales Advisor”…it all means Salesperson. A business card or email signature does not sell – a person’s actions sell. Here’s another way to think about it:
“I can’t hear your title because your actions are speaking too loudly.”
However, in cases where the salesperson is delivering a professional service and selling to senior executives, it can be beneficial to provide a title that the senior executives would respect as an equal – in terms of management level. Senior Executives want to feel that they are dealing with someone who can ‘make things happen’ within their organization. We call this ‘Peerage’. This is not critical if the sales person has access to their own Senior Executive team to accompany them on C-level appointments. If not, the rep’s title for positioning purposes…but actions and persona will always be the trump card.
If you’re really interested in improving those actions, consider implementing a consistent, customer-focused sales process rather than just a new job title.
What do you think?