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The Three Types of Salespeople

MAR 10, 2014 10:23am ET
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Most readers will become more engaged and receptive to reading an article when they see a finite number like three.

For whatever reason, it’s comforting to know they just have to consider a manageable number to understand the author’s premise. (By the way, there’s no empirical evidence to support that statement—I just created the premise to make a point! That’s what I call “literary liberty.”)

In my decades as a sales consultant, trainer and coach, I’ve seen just about every sales type there is. After careful study (admittedly, not that careful), and for simplicity sake (bear with me, I’m just about done with the disclaimers), sales people will usually fall into three different categories. Each of these categories contains different component parts, but for the purposes of this article I will consolidate and summarize the various traits of each category.

So, for those of you who don’t want to read the entire article to obtain the three categories I’ll cut to the chase and give them to you now. Category one is the sales person who has never had any “formal” (or any other kind) of sales training or coaching. The second category is the sales person who has been formerly trained and exposed to the discipline of sales but elects to ignore most of this training and just do things their way. The third, and final category, is the salesperson who also has trained and/or professionally coached and does employ these disciplines in their daily sales effort.

The salesperson that has never been exposed to any formal (or informal) sales training or coaching is the norm, rather than the exception. This salesperson, for whatever the reason and/or circumstance, is responsible for a sales function.

Not particularly sophisticated, humble and/or reflective of this career choice, this sales type doesn’t see the necessity, value or benefit, for formal training or guidance in selling. After all, they have a good personality, persistent in their efforts, not reluctant to speak with people and have pretty good product knowledge. More importantly, they’re not discouraged when they hear “no,” which is a good thing because they must hear it frequently.

If asked, the will share with you that selling is easy if you’re not afraid of rejection and are willing to engage in the quest to make a sale. This salesperson probably doesn’t work for a large organization, because just about all of these entities will require their sales associates be tested and/or required to attend initial, and usually ongoing, sales training.

The vast majority of people in this “no training” category are viewing sales as a simplistic process. These sales persons may also find that they are selling as an afterthought, part of what they must do to get business.

These persons, if asked, might not even call themselves a sales person, but rather, define their expertise or trade. “I’m a plumber” or “I’ve bought this business and am in the process of trying to service existing accounts and grow the business.” Or, “I’m a loan originator.” (I just got chills and may need to take a break.)

The second sales type is a person who may have attended sales seminars, been exposed to in-house sales training with their employer (if available) and may have occasionally listened to a tape or read an article relative to the discipline of selling. The more ambitious in this category, might even have engaged the services of a professional sales coach (my personal favorite, in light of the fact I am a professional sales trainer and coach and with this statement, am guilty of a shameful attempt of self-promotion) and been given workbooks and/or recordings of various sales concepts and techniques.

To the surprise of few, this sales person views these training sessions as a necessary requirement to continue their employment, rarely recognizing great benefits of such training. This sales person will usually revert back to their “form” of selling and will engage in the function of selling the way they view what it takes to be effective at their job.

Unfortunately, this holds true even if the person is paying out-of-pocket for sales coaching. It’s for this reason that before I take on a new student I make certain representations before agreeing to move forward. I always tell the prospective new student that they should not engage my services if they don’t plan on implementing what they are being shown. 

My training and coaching works—I’ve proven that with thousands of students—but only if utilized consistently. Perfect practice makes perfect. The second condition I have is requiring my fee to be paid in advance. This obligates the student to attend a minimum amount of sessions, which I know from experience is a key factor to success.

Lastly, we have the third type of salesperson. This person frequently attends sales seminars, may have engaged the services of a sales/business coach, reads books on selling processes and techniques, listens to informative tapes on the discipline of selling and organizational skills and, in general, is constantly focused on self-improvement and analysis.

This person is focused, disciplined and astute enough to recognize the value and effectiveness of doing their job with the training and tools provided them during their career. Personally, I’m always gratified when my students share their successes and verbalize that their training kicked-in and was what contributed to their success.

This is probably a good time to mention that not all sales training is effective. Some companies that do offer training usually focus on their product or service and may confuse product training with actual sales training. That being said, most any training relative to sales can be helpful, some more than others.

In the spirit of self-reflection, I ask you which of the three categories best describes your sales efforts? I’d like to hear your thoughts and/or experiences.

I’ll leave you with this last thought; all of us engage in the art of selling at some point in our personal and/or business lives. We might not call it selling, but rest assured, we all engage in selling. Look for my next article for illustration of this last statement.

Stephen Greenberg is the founder and CEO of Synergistic Associates Inc., a national sales training and coaching organization. For a free consultation, or any questions, Steve can be contacted at steveg@synergisticassoc.com or 954-757-6585.

Comments (5)
After reading this article I am note sure if you are just using this to advertise for your services or what because there is nothing in the article that is substantive. Please give some suggestions of books coaches etc if you really want to help if you just want to advertise you, than remove me from your list
Posted by gerard k | Monday, March 10 2014 at 1:55PM ET
As I read the article I kept waiting for the writer to get to the point. That didn't happen. In the mortgage banking world the best training can be found in "The Red Book." The actual title is "Advanced Mortgage Loan Officer Business Development Practices" and it is available at Amazon and other places. It is the ultimate "how to" book for loan officers.
Posted by Kenneth P | Monday, March 10 2014 at 9:34PM ET
I find it interesting that a sales trainer is selling me on the benefits of sales training.
Posted by | Tuesday, March 11 2014 at 8:57AM ET
Shameful, self promotion. If you are going to write an ad for your services, at least call it an ad.
Posted by homeequity | Tuesday, March 11 2014 at 12:29PM ET
I would like to get in touch with you for more detail.I'm looking for a sale person in the garment industry. Can you help in this regar.
Email: llovy4545@hotmail.com
305 330 4821 or 786 440 1163
Posted by | Monday, March 17 2014 at 1:15AM ET
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