Distinguishing Sales Roles: What These Job Titles Mean

As I began my career in the corporate world, I learned that there are many different types of roles within specific departments. One department that stood out to me was the sales department. What’s the difference between a sales development rep and a business development rep (hint: there is none)? Or what about a territory manager and an account executive? Not to mention the how to distinguish the hierarchies--which is why I decided to do a little investigation (thanks, glassdoor) to understand the nuances among these roles. Because honestly, some of the sales people I asked didn’t even know the difference.

This blog covers most entry-level, associate, and mid-senior level positions within a sales department (key word being most, because some companies move to the beat of their own drum).

Sales Development Role (SDR) and Business Development Role (BDR)

Job role: The role of a SDR revolves around lead generation, not closing deals. They assist in qualifying leads that generate a certain amount of business, allowing account execs to focus more on closing deals than wasting their time doing cold calls.

Seniority level: Entry level

How they’re measured: By how effectively they move leads through the sales pipeline, the number of activities (calls, emails, LinkedIn messages), meetings set, and opportunities created.

Typical day for an SDR:

  • Prospecting into the database to identify leads that fit their Ideal Customer Profile
  • Follow up calls with emails
  • Research leads for personalization
  • Generate qualified opportunities that progress through the sales funnel, generating new revenue
  • Work closely with marketing to ensure that a seamless transition from marketing to sales for the prospect

Note: There is a difference between sales development and business development. Sales development focuses more on generating sales, whereas business development focuses growing partnerships--however, a BDR and SDR hold the same responsibilities.


Account Executive (AE)

Job role: The role of an AE requires more of hands on knowledge of the product or service. AE’s typically sell a service, versus a product--distinguishing them from a Territory manager. They must confidently run demos and give presentations to prospects, identify personalized buying obstacles and craft personalized value propositions, negotiate actual terms, and of course--close the deal.

Seniority level: Entry level-Mid senior level (depends on the company)

How they’re measured: Meeting their revenue quotas.

Typical responsibilities:

  • Running demos/showing presentations to prospects
  • Reviewing contracts
  • Negotiating deals

Inside Sales Representative (ISR)

Role: The ISR is a hybrid of an SDR and an account executive: they make dozens of outbound calls or emails a day in hopes of closing a deal with qualified prospects. They do rigorous research of qualified prospects for personalized and resonating messaging that will potentially lead to a sale.

Seniority level: Associate

How they’re measured: Meeting revenue quotas.

Typical responsibilities:

  • Source new inbound leads through outbound cold calls and emails
  • Researching new prospects
  • Growing their database of prospects in their assigned territory
  • Performing demos to prospects

Territory Sales Manager

Role: The Territory Sales Manager has very similar responsibilities as the AE, however this person manages a specific area/territory for a company and acts as a liaison between their company’s headquarters and their company’s presence in their respective territory. Their main job is to increase the sales volume in their assigned area.

Seniority level: Associate

How they’re measured: Quotas. Let’s just say, if their territory was measured with a heat map, it should all red without a spec of green in sight.

Typical responsibilities:

  • Researching territory competition
  • Territory planning and management of all accounts as assigned by management
  • Provide prospects a consultative approach with well-formulated proposals that align with product benefits and features for their requirements

Account Manager

Role: This person keeps the account afloat and happy by working with existing customers to understand their needs, showing them how to yield the greatest possible ROI from the product, and creating a long-term strategy. They are the main point of contact for the client.

Seniority level: Associate or mid-senior level (depends on company)

Measured by: Retention and satisfaction rates.

Typical responsibilities:

  • Addressing clients questions or concerns regarding the product
  • Negotiating renewals, develop and oversee customer retention campaigns
  • Touch base with each assigned clients at least once a week

Note: The Account Manager holds similar responsibilities to a Customer Success Manager (CSM), however not all CSMs own renewals.


Sales Operations Manager

Role: The Sale ops manager makes sure that the data is clean, accurate, standardized, and complete within the CRM. In addition, they manage the CRM and other platforms/integrations to ensure they are robust and cost effective. Lastly, they analyze the data within the CRM and provide insights and feedback to the sales and marketing teams.

Seniority level: Mid-senior level

Measured by: The usability and comprehension of the sales tech stack.

Typical responsibilities:

  • Manage lead and account routing tools
  • Provide administrative and operational support
  • Execute monthly SQL auditing
  • Identify opportunities for process, automation and analysis improvements.
  • Review, track, analyze and communicate performance to sales management for each market.


Each company has their own unique structure and this blog only covers a fraction of the possible sales responsibilities and job titles out there. If your company does it differently and it works, keep doin’ it that way!

Regardless of the role, data -- and the accuracy and completeness of account and contact data-- is crucial to sales’ success. ReachForce allows you to give your sales team time back in their day by eliminating bulky, manual research processes that allow them to identify their high-value prospects faster. 

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Work in sales and looking to strengthen your relationship with marketing? Read these practical tips from a marketing pro.

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