There are many different types of sales roles in business, and each of these roles require different types of sales people. Many companies suffer from high sales staff turnover because they do not know what type of sales person they require for the different sales roles. This results in the sales person not being able to deliver what is expected of them, creating issues for the business, and at the same time not getting the satisfaction they require from their job. And you guessed what happens next… More turnover!
To address this common business problem, I am going to assess the types of sales people and the roles they are suited for. There are 4 commonly known types of sales people. In this article, I will be addressing each of these types as well as introducing what I believe to be the new, 5th type of sales person. For each of the sales types, I have ranked them on how hard they are to find, but keep reading to ensure that this ranking is understood correctly.
The Transactional Sales Person (common):
Often referred to by the derogatory term, “Order Takers”, Transactional sales people are very strong in their product knowledge. They learn their product well, and quickly become experts. They also enjoy people, and interacting with lots of different types of people. However, they do not enjoy hunting for business, and they also do not enjoy building long term relationships with their clientele. They prefer to have the clients come to them, then guide the client to the best solution using their in depth knowledge and enjoyment of working with people.
These sales people are best suited to sales roles that have a short sales cycle, with lots of inbound leads. They will convert these leads with a high success rate. Clients will enjoy their experience with these sales people. However, do not expect them to go and look for new business (neither from new accounts nor existing accounts). This is could not be further from their comfort zone.
The Closer (common):
Closers enjoy the thrill of the hunt. They want to go and hunt down new business, and pride themselves on bringing in the next big deal. They are powerful negotiators and are extremely tenacious and resourceful. In extreme cases, the closers will sell family members to get the next big deal. They do not enjoy long sales cycles, nor building long term relationships. For these people, the simpler the objective and sales cycle, the better.
Closers are best suited to roles where they need to go out into your respective market and get new business quickly. When the contract is signed and the money is in the bank is where their relationship with the client should end. They are not suited to roles where a long after sales / account management role is required. If this is the case for your business, you should consider handing over to the relationship builder.
The Relationship Builder (common):
These sales people have excellent product knowledge and people skills. Similar to the transactional sales person, but different in that they love to get to know their clients intrinsically. These people will build solid relationships with your existing clients to the extent that your clients will not consider doing business with anyone else. They detest hunting for new accounts.
The Relationship Builders are best suited to sales where the product is simpler, and the business relies on an existing base of customers to grow sales revenue. Do not expect them to go and win new accounts.
The Solution Sales Person (rare):
These sales people enjoy solving complicated business problems, using a set of products or solutions your business offers. They will draw from all of the above types and apply them to the problems your clients are facing. But they bring in a new element, and that is getting to understand the challenges your clients face intrinsically, and aligning these with solutions your business offers. They do not enjoy a role where the volume of opportunities is high, and the cycle is quick.
You will look to employ a solution sales person when the products or services your business offers are complex, and solve complicated problems. Here the deal volumes are low, but the value is high, and the sales cycle is long. Do not employ a solution sales person in a high paced, high volume commodity type of sales environment.
The Influencer (extremely rare):
The Influencer is what I believe to be the new breed of sales person geared towards winning business in complex sales processes, and long sales cycles. Thanks to technology, buyers have access to a lot of the knowledge your best sales people possess. Having one or a combination of any of the above sales types is no longer enough. Sales people need to help the buyers navigate the plethora of information available, and to arrive at the solution best suited to their unique circumstances.
This requires a very strategic approach to sales, to build trust quickly, and to position themselves as an expert in their field. These three elements combined will position the sales person as a trusted advisor to the buyers, and ultimately significantly influence the decision they make based on a combination of all the information they have access to and the inputs from the Influencer. The way I see it, the Solution Sales Person needs to evolve into The Influencer.
With the 5 types of sales people, it is important to note that no one sales person type is better or worse than another. And while these 5 types are stereotypical, in most cases, sales people will possess a combination of any of the above attributes, which is what makes all sales people unique! The rarity essentially talks to the demand for these types of people. When you combine the rarity with their experience and skill, you determine their salary structure. The key is to know what type of sales person is required for the sales role/s you have available.
It is also extremely noteworthy that with the rate of change in technology and the information buyers have access to, that we will naturally see a shift towards an increase in demand for type 4 and 5 sales people and a decrease in demand for types 1 and 2, regardless of your product complexity and sales cycle. This is simply because the role that types 1 and 2 play in terms of transfer of knowledge is being replaced with technology and information. Similarly, with this increase in information, the need for 4’s and 5’s to help clients arrive at the best outcome will increase as the technology and information flow increase, and buyers adoption of the information and technology increases.
Make sure that you are finding the right sales people for your business, and that they are aligned with your medium to long term sales strategy. Want to know more, or discuss? Get in touch.