When it comes to business advice to improve sales, most authors and advisers say that it is about the relationship that the salesperson has with the customer that makes the sale. While this is more true in transactional sales such as in a retail business, it is hardly the whole story. In fact, when it comes to more complex sales, it is certainly not the whole story.
In their book “The Challenger Sale,” Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson went about looking at why some sales representatives are more successful than others. As part of their research, they launched a global study of the productivity of salespeople. The study involved more than 6,000 salespersons across nearly 100 companies and spanned multiple industries.
What they discovered was that sales professionals fall into one of five archetypes:
Relationship Builder Salesperson
The relationship builder salesperson focuses on developing strong personal and professional relationships with their customer. They are extremely generous with their time and strive to meet the customers’ every need. They strived to be liked by the customer and work hard to resolve any tensions in their relationships.
Most sales training is geared toward creating the relationship building salespersons and are what most businesses look for when they hire a salesperson. However, of the five archetypes, the relationship builder salesperson is the worst performing profile accounting for only 7% of the top sales performers.
Hard Worker Salesperson
The hard worker salesperson out hustles their peers. They show up early, stay late, and always go the extra mile. The hard worker makes more sales calls in an hour and conducts more customer visits in a week than anyone else on the sales team.
They are tenacious and don’t give up easy on a sale. The hard worker salesperson is self-motivated and they are always looking for feedback and ways to improve their sales prowess.
Lone Wolf Salesperson
The lone wolf salesperson is deeply self-confident. They are the rule-breaking cowboys of the sales force who do things their way or not at all.
The lone wolf salesperson relies on their instincts and rarely follows office protocols making them difficult to manage. If it were not for the fact that they deliver results they would likely be fired.
Reactive Problem Solver Salesperson
The reactive problem solver sales person is, from the customers’ standpoint, highly reliable. They are very detail-oriented and addresses every problem promptly.
The reactive problem solver salesperson focuses on post-sales follow-up, ensuring that service issues related to implementation and execution are addressed quickly and thoroughly.
The challenger salesperson focuses on understanding the customer’s business. They use their deep understanding of their customer’s business to push their thinking and take control of the sales conversation.
The challenger salesperson loves to debate or push the customer and they are not afraid to share even potentially controversial views. They are assertive with both their customers and even with their boss.
40% of all the top salespersons achieved their success as a challenger salesperson and when it
5 Salesperson Architype Conclusion
While almost all businesses would be very happy to employ any of the five salesperson archetypes, most businesses have been encouraged to focus on relationship builders. Unfortunately, the study shows relationship builders have the fewest number of top performers. However, the study showed that challengers dramatically out-perform the other archetypes by a wide margin.
What type of salesperson are you?
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