Sales Success is a Matter of Style

By Ray Silverstein

for The Business Journal (Phoenix)


A stellar salesperson is worth his or her weight in gold. But as every small business owner knows, finding that person isn’t easy.


When you evaluate potential candidates, what do you look for? If you’re like most small employers, you weigh your applicants’ experience, track record, and industry contacts. Yet despite it all, sales hiring often remains hit-or-miss. Why?


Perhaps it’s because when it comes to sales, experience is not enough. I think we all can agree that personality plays a big role in sales. Let’s take this a step further. Do certain types of sales jobs require certain types of sales personalities—i.e., sales styles? I believe so.


Just as there are “Type A” and “Type B” personalities, there are distinct sales personalities.  If you can identify what type makes the best sense for you, you’re on way to making a successful hire. Let’s review the three basic sales personalities: 


“Type F” - The Finder

The Finder is an aggressive go-getter, a classic rainmaker. The Finder loves the thrill of the hunt. And as soon as the sale is clinched, he’s off on the trail of another quarry.


If your priority is scoring new accounts, hire a Finder. But don’t expect him to follow through on service issues; he’ll leave that to others. If you do hire a Finder, you better have a strong support staff in place to provide customer service and nurture client relationships.


Often, Finders are terrific on the road, but have few allies in-house. After all, there is a fine line between ambition and arrogance. If team-building is a priority for you, think carefully before hiring a Finder. But if your top goal is bringing in new business, pure and simple, you won’t find a more effective sales style.


“Type M” - The Minder

The Minder, on the other hand, has a very different style. The Minder is a relationship builder, a people-person, a problem-solver.


The Minder’s goal is not the conquest of a single, spectacular sale, but the gradual building of long-term accounts. Minders are committed to client satisfaction and loyalty. They play well with others.


If your business is based on repeat sales and long-term relationships, The Minder is the sales type for you. Minders won’t generate the dazzling production numbers of Finders, but their persistency ratios are high, and they’ll please their coworkers as well as your customers.


“Type G” - The Grinder

As the name implies, Grinders are relentless plodders. Rejection won’t stop them. Repetition doesn’t bother them. They may not have much imagination, but they persevere.


The Grinder has neither the Finder’s flair nor the Minder’s service commitment. However, when it comes to high-volume sales calls—such as grueling door-to-door sales—the Grinder is the one who will get the job done.


What’s Your Style?

To determine your company’s ideal sales style, consider what you sell, who you sell it to, and the way you sell it. Do you need a flashy salesperson? A persistent one? Or someone with a warm, light tough?


Consider your sales hires of the past. Who got the best results, and what sales type best describes them? If you’re the company rainmaker, what’s your sales style? You may need to hire someone in your mold.


As one of my peer group members always tells his new salespeople, “I can’t give you what your mother didn’t give you!” In other words, if someone doesn’t have the right personality for a particular job, no amount of training will make him a star. 


A Note about Training

Even if you make a smart hire, that doesn’t lessen the need for good training. Many small businesses don’t properly prepare new salespeople. They program them for failure, then wonder why no one ever succeeds.  


Directing trainees to study the product catalog and hang around the office does not equal sales training. Successful, sales-driven companies have finely-honed sales presentations. They teach their new hires how to give the presentation and rehearse until its second nature. They show them how to answers questions and overcome objections.


These companies get their trainees out on the road quickly, but only in the company of veteran salespeople. The trainees listen and learn, and eventually begin presenting, while the veteran observes and critiques. They don’t send them out on their own until they’re truly ready to represent the company.

Socrates once said, “know thyself.” I say, know thy sales style, too.  



Ray Silverstein is president of PRO:  President’s Resource Organization, a network of entrepreneurial peer advisory groups in Phoenix and Chicago. The author of “The Best Secrets of Great Small Businesses” and a columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine online, Ray may be reached at 1-800-818-0150 or