Success is a Matter of Style
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
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