What kind of a salesperson are you? Better know

by Jeffrey Gitomer

Published: October 31,2005

The good, the bad, the ugly.

The successful, the mediocre, the n’er-do-wells.
Not all people fit into a “type” pigeon-hole. But I believe it’s important to identify your characteristics in order to correct and improve them. And in order to understand what works, and recognize flaws. If you’ve ever taken one of those courses that tell you there’s four kinds of people, in my opinion you were slightly under-informed. There are thousands of kinds of people, just like there are thousands of kinds of salespeople.

Take a look at the types of salespeople below. You’ll see yourself. You’ll also see salespeople like the ones you work with — or those who work and sell against you. Everyone from Mr. Know It All, to Mr. Superstar, to Mr. Mediocre. They’re all characters, and they all have characteristics. Some are more evident than others.

I’ll guarantee you that as you read the descriptions about the characteristics — people you know well will come to mind. And you’ll ignore the bad ones that pertain to you. It’s human nature. You’re perfect, I’m perfect. Well, I’m not so sure about you.

Are you the type of salesperson people want to buy from? There’s an easy way to answer that question. How many of your phone calls go unreturned?

Take a look at these characters, and then take a look in the mirror. I think the answers will be evident. NOTE WELL: you may possess several characteristics of several characters.

Please note: The genders of these salespeople have been altered to protect their identity. After all, a bad salesperson is a bad salesperson, regardless of gender. So is a great salesperson.

Mr. Know it All always knows the answer, even before you’ve finished the question. He’s someone you just love to hate. He’s someone who has just enough sales skills to continue to earn just enough money to stay in the groove, while making most people he comes in contact with miserable. Especially his co-workers.

Mr. Mediocre’s belief system is reflected in his paycheck. He’s not mediocre in sales skills, because mediocrity doesn’t always stem from a lack of skill — it stems from a lack of belief in what you do, what you sell, and who you are.

Ms. Old World Selling Skills has a distinct system of selling: Probe, Present, Overcome Objections, Close, and Leave. Most of the time, this system is very successful in getting you to leave the sale early. Unfortunately, it’s with the answer of “No.” I always want to send these salespeople a copy of Arthur Miller’s great play, “Death of a Salesman.” It’s about a guy who wouldn’t change his sales practices with the times, and he died, penniless in the gutter.

Mr. Manipulative is the evil twin of Ms. Old World Selling Skills. If you’ve ever walked into a car dealership and the salesperson used the word “today” five times, and you tried to avoid him at all costs, then you know exactly who Mr. Manipulative is. If they ask the question, “Is there any reason we can’t do business today?” you know who is asking it. Mr. Manipulative: he’s not just annoying, he’s insulting.

Ms. Almost Sale gets customers to commit — but doesn’t obtain a signed contract. She goes back to the office and brags that the sale is in the bag. What she’s saying is, “I have nothing. No contract, no check.” In sales lingo, that is an “almost sale.” The sale is complete only when a contract is signed, a check is received, and some form of delivery is made. Then you can begin to brag, or if you’re smart, you’ll just go out and make another sale.

Sometimes a bit overweight, Mr. “I’ve Been Doing This for 25 Years,” thinks his experience equals knowledge. Right, now all he has to do is figure out how to turn on his laptop. Think about the changes in the past 25 years in every kind of sales technology, and every kind of sales technique. I believe veteran salespeople are the most vulnerable of them all. They become complacent about their relationships, and will often lose a big sale to someone who out hustles them. The sad part about this salesperson is that they didn’t start out that way.

They started out hustling, they started out optimistic, and they had that daily spark. Now, the flint is worn out, and they’ve become somewhat cynical… especially about the sales they lose.

Yikes! What a cast of characters. Find yourself somewhere in the list? I guarantee there were a few spots that made you squirm. Jeffrey, where are the good-guys?

They’re coming next week! Hope you make that list.

If you’d like the characteristics of a GREAT salesperson, go to www.gitomer.com — register if you’re a first time visitor — and enter SALES GREATNESS in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail to salesman@gitomer.com.

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