While new business development and account management are both based on relationships, NBD is like the dating phase of a relationship, and account management is more the marriage phase. Stay with me here.
Dating can be a lot of work. You have to find out about the person and try to get the information you need to contact them. And what’s more nerve-wracking than calling someone you hardly know for a first date? You don’t know exactly what to say and there is a distinct possibility that they will turn you down. Cold-calling is very much like that first date call, and people in new business development make dozens of those calls every day. So they have to be able to handle daily rejection and have responses to those rejections that may change someone’s mind. In a marriage, there are no more first-date phone call jitters. All of that uncertainty is in the past. Account management is the same – the customer has already been established. There is no trying to get through the gatekeeper or convincing someone to take a chance with you.
But that doesn’t mean account management is easier than new business development. Anyone who has been married for any length of time, and is honest, will tell you that it’s hard. (And someone like me, who has been married and divorced, will tell you that it’s even harder.) You have to work every day to maintain a good relationship and your spouse is bound to see you at your worst. No matter the product or service, problems are going to arise, and it’s up to the account manager to handle them in a way that satisfies the customer so they don’t take their business elsewhere. New business development people don’t have to maintain a relationship, just establish it. They get to sell the product or service without dealing with the issues that pop up later.
As a small business start-up, Legion has always expected its employees to wear many hats, and our Problem Solvers are no exception. They not only handled every customer and carrier relationship, but also had to create their own book of business, which meant they had to be good at both establishing relationships and maintaining them. But that is changing. We are expanding our New Business Development department to handle all of our prospecting needs so our Problem Solvers can focus on managing and growing their accounts.
To decide which one is right for you, think about your personal life, whether you enjoy meeting new people and making fresh connections, or you prefer an established relationship, despite the bumps along the way. Chances are your work preferences will be the same.
by Lacy Starling, President and Fearless Leader