Blog Post

Glossary: Revenue Team Roles

Glossary: Revenue Team Roles

Who’s responsible for what?

Building and scaling a revenue team in an entrepreneurial business requires a solid understanding of each role’s responsibilities and how they evolve as the company grows. Initially, founders typically handle sales, bringing in new business to establish critical mass and eventually developing the first generation of a revenue team or function.

As the company establishes a customer base, the scope of the revenue team broadens to include nurturing existing relationships while still pursuing new opportunities with new customers and alliances, partners, and channels. At first, only one or two employees may be responsible for all of these relationships. However, as the company grows, the revenue team will, too, making it even more important to understand the distinction between these roles.

An important note before we proceed: Marketing is an essential function for any growing business, and we consider it one of the core roles within the broader revenue team. But for the purpose of this article, we’re focusing on all the other revenue-generating roles, which are often categorized within the “sales” function.

Revenue team roles glossary

The differences between these roles, their responsibilities, and how they overlap often confuse businesses, causing them to stumble when they try to structure their revenue organizations. In our glossary, we break down common revenue team terminology to clarify the various roles so you can clearly define who is responsible for what at your organization.

Let’s start with the most confusing term in the sales vocabulary: 

Business Development

This phrase is confusing because it means very different things in different business models. To make sense of this term, we categorize it into three common use cases:

  1. Product / Technology Business Development
  2. Doer / Seller Business Development
  3. Other Professional Services Business Development

Here’s a deeper look at each of the three unique business development roles:

Business development representative (BDR)* at product/technology companies

Technology and product companies often have a team of BDRs/BDMs. These employees are typically early in their careers and responsible for identifying prospects for the sales team. BDRs do not usually sell and close the deal but pass qualified leads to the sales team. However, in a small business, a BDR might sit in multiple seats — supporting business development and working deals through to a closed won or lost sale.

Key responsibilities: 

  • Qualify inbound leads generated from marketing programs.
  • Create “at bats” or opportunities for the sales team to work through the sales cycle.

Key activities:

  • Work from targeted prospect lists to create interest in the product they’re selling via cold calling and social / email outreach and then pass qualified leads to the assigned sales rep.
  • Follow-up with inbound marketing leads to qualify (or disqualify) them and then pass qualified leads to the assigned sales rep.

*Similar titles include Business Development Manager (BDM) or Sales Development Representative (SDR)

Business development in professional services doer-seller models 

Many professional services businesses operate with a doer-seller model, which means the subject matter expert (e.g., attorney, accountant, architect) is responsible for business development and is also likely accountable for helping close and serve deals. 

Many very capable “doers” are not well-suited to the dual role of “doer-seller”. It is a unique professional who can bring both deep expertise and strong relationship building skills to this role. As such, these leaders are often the most senior and highest billing members within their firms.

Key responsibilities: 

  • Serve as a practice leader responsible for hitting sales quotas and building a book of business for themselves and their colleagues.
  • Represent the firm’s subject matter expertise in the sales process.

Key activities:

  • Bring in new business opportunities via networking, speaking opportunities, and sponsorships/events.
  • Help close sales by demonstrating the firm’s expertise.
  • Deliver revenue-producing services (maintain billable utilization).

Business development in other professional services firms

In other professional services firms, business development is a dedicated function on the sales team. In these models, the business development role is accountable for building trust in the market, drumming up interest in the company, and creating demand for its services – but they are not the “doer” who delivers the services. Instead, they build brand credibility and open doors to new opportunities. 

This professional services business development representative is likely quite established in their career, and is responsible to build high-trust, high-touch, personal relationships with executives. This model is common among consulting businesses, technology services firms, and business banks, among others.

These business development professionals are likely to spend less time behind their desk “dialing for dollars” or sending mass emails – and more time attending market events, creating and hosting special events, and setting up coffee, lunch, or happy hour meetings: experiences that create long-term, trusting relationships.

In a small organization, it is common for the person in this business development seat to also work as a sales rep to help close deals.

Key responsibilities: 

  • Build trust and likeability in the marketplace to drive direct inquiries and referrals.
  • Identify partnership opportunities.

Key activities:

  • Attend local or national conferences and host community or industry events.
  • Develop and nurture relationships with partners.

Sales Representative

The sales role is responsible for working a deal from the point of lead qualification to a closed won or closed lost sale (closing). Depending on the overall revenue team size and structure, the sales representative might also have responsibility for business development (hunting), and/or account management (farming).

Key responsibilities: 

  • Work deals through the entire sales cycle, from the moment a prospect becomes a qualified lead in the CRM to a closed won or closed lost sale.
  • Get the relevant customer stakeholders aligned and invested in the deal.

Key activities:

  • Pitch and differentiate the company’s product or service to prospective customers.
  • Create the scope of work/proposal and manage the deal until it is closed won or closed lost.

Sales Engineer

Sales engineer roles are unique to organizations with highly technical sales (e.g., complex technologies or services). Sales engineers have deep subject matter expertise that is necessary during the sales process. However, sales engineers are not necessarily salespeople; they don’t work a proposal through to a closed win or loss. Instead, they’re the expert that the sales team brings to the table to build confidence in the company’s solutions.

Key responsibilities: 

  • Build confidence in the company’s solutions by demonstrating technical expertise during the sales process.
  • Work with the sales team to customize solutions/proposals to fit the unique technical needs of prospects.

Key activities:

  • Attend prospect meetings to present technical solutions and answer technical questions.
  • Liaise with research & development or product / delivery teams to ensure the implementation and onboarding success of custom solutions.

Account Management

Account management roles are responsible for securing and retaining ongoing revenue from existing customers rather than closing deals with new customers. Typically, businesses with recurring customer revenue or client engagements (e.g., technology/product companies and professional services organizations) emphasize account management more than transactional businesses. Account management roles can reside within a sales department or may be part of client services, service delivery, or customer success.

Key responsibilities: 

  • Retain existing clients.
  • Build value with clients to encourage them to continue renewing their contracts or add additional products or services.

Key activities:

  • Regular check-ins with clients to monitor progress and identify new opportunities within the account.
  • Expand footprint and stickiness within the account by networking across departments and various roles of influence.

Customer Success

Some businesses consider the role of customer success to be interchangeable with account management. However, customer success often has additional responsibilities to be aware of (even if ultimately bundled into one role). What’s most important is for companies to define who manages all aspects of the customer relationship.

Key responsibilities: 

  • Ensure a positive onboarding experience for new customers, recognizing that sales are not a done deal just because the contract is signed.
  • Continue ensuring a positive customer/client experience by engaging, supporting, and nurturing customers across the entire customer lifecycle.

Key activities:

  • Regular check-ins with clients to troubleshoot any issues and ensure satisfaction.
  • Identify opportunities to tell the best customer stories with the market. Partner with marketing to capture customer successes (i.e. testimonials, case studies, referrals), and build customer loyalty and advocacy through curated experiences.

Alliance, Partner, or Channel Management

Companies that also sell their solutions through partner, channel, or alliance relationships must have employees designated to managing those relationships. These roles are often closely tied to the sales team, but instead of creating proposals, closing deals, or servicing the client relationship, they are building brand trust with relevant third-party partners. This role is a blend of business development and selling skills, specifically pointed to the channel or partner.

Key responsibilities: 

  • Identify alliances, partners, and channels that can help bring the company’s solution to targeted end users.
  • Build trust with those partners to increase the likelihood that they will recommend the company’s solution to their clients and customers. 
  • Manage relationships with alliances, partners, and channels.

Key activities:

  • Segment most influential contacts for nurture, and manage partner-specific communication channels.
  • Educate and train partners on the company’s solution and how they benefit the end user. Communicate a clear value proposition and unique differentiator.
  • Capture and share partner feedback back to the organization.
  • Partner with marketing to create partner-specific collateral, and collaborate on co-branded events, content, and campaigns. 

Structuring your revenue team for success

When your business is small, you may only have one to two people who cover several revenue team roles. Still, the key to success is to clarify who sits in which seats, what they’re responsible for, and how they support the overall revenue objectives. As your company grows, your revenue team will also likely grow, with employees shifting to roles with a narrower — but deeper — focus. At this time, your employees can double down on their strengths and drive even greater success across all aspects of your revenue function.

Are you wondering where marketing fits into all of this? Reach out to discuss how Authentic helps create sales and marketing alignment and builds marketing teams and programs that play a critical role in creating revenue opportunities.


  • Authentic®

    Authentic® is a national fractional CMO firm, serving clients across the United States and beyond. We were early pioneers in our industry, and continue to set the standard for fractional CMO excellence. Our unique approach combines Marketers + Methodology + Mindshare to help growing businesses Overcome Random Acts of Marketing® and increase maturity, growth, and transferrable value. We are Authentic Fractional CMOs™ Tested. Trusted. True Executives.

    View all posts

Related Posts

Authentic Headquarters
4600 W. 77th St. Suite #385
Minneapolis, MN 55435

Additional Offices
California • Illinois • Massachusetts • New York
North Carolina • Texas • Washington • Wisconsin

© 2024 Authentic Brand LLC | Privacy Policy

Best Places to Work
we run on eos
fast 50 - white
Table of Contents


Table of Contents