The 1,024 Types of Salespeople. Hire the Right Ones!



Hiring good salespeople is one of the hardest things a company has to do.  Typically, companies need to go through three salespeople in order to find one successful one with long-term closing power.   This hard fact can take its toll on early-stage companies that have limited budgets, can only afford small teams and can’t afford to make any mistakes which will result in revenues getting delayed down the road.  The below categories of salespeople will help point you in the right direction of which type you should hire for your business.

Enterprise vs. SMB

Enterprise sales typically involve a much longer sales cycle, and need someone who knows how to work numerous parties and divisions within an organization over time.  With smaller businesses, a salesperson is typically closer to the decision makers and budgets at the top of the organization for a quicker sale with fewer people involved in the decision-making.

Early-Stage vs. Late-Stage

Early-stage salespeople tend to need more leadership, passion and brand ambassador skills. Later stage salespeople tend to work better with structured and repeatable processes.

Inbound vs. Outbound

Inbound salespeople prefer limited travel and leads coming to them in the office.  Outbound salespeople are typically road warriors who spend most of their time selling and schmoozing prospective buyers at their clients’ offices.

Simple vs. Consultative

Any good salesperson can sell a product that is simple and easy-to-understand.  It takes a really special salesperson who can put on a consultative hat with clients to help them better understand a complex product.

Competitive vs. Non-Competitive

Again, any good salesperson can have success with limited competition in the market.  But, finding a good salesperson who knows how to win business with “hand-to-hand” combat skills up against entrenched competitors is much harder.

Big Ticket vs. Small Ticket

The bigger the ticket, the longer and harder the sale process, as more decision makers are typically involved in larger ticket purchases.  Not all salespeople have the persistence and nurturing skills required to succeed in longer sales cycle products.

Hunters vs. Recipients

Any good salesperson should be able to close leads that are handed to them by the marketing department.  But, many salespeople do not have the “hunter mentality” to drum up leads on their own with persistent and long-term success.

Doers vs. Managers

Make sure your salesperson actually has demonstrated recent success in selling, as opposed to managing a team of salespeople.  It is very different when you have to “dial for dollars” yourself and are building your own Rolodex of relationships.

Lone Wolves vs. Team Members

Very few virtual salespeople working from their home offices have the discipline to stay focused and put in the hard work required to sell a product.  And some salespeople just prefer the team environment of working alongside their peers in the office.  Don’t put a square peg in a round hole.

Direct vs. Reseller

Typically, you want to hire someone with past success selling one specific product or service, inside that company.  Resellers, distributors or channel salespeople are often selling multiple brands, leveraging a broad portfolio of products and may not be able to show success for one specific product therein.

So, with ten categories above and two options in each category, that equates to over 1,024 specific types of salespersons (two to the 10th degree).  Try to hire ones that check off the most skills needed for your specific business.

Be sure to re-read Lesson #127, How to Screen Salesperson Candidates, for a list of key questions you need to ask during the interview process.

This article was originally published on Red Rocket VC, a consulting and financial advisory firm with expertise in serving the startup, digital and venture community.

Image credit: CC by Baltic Development Forum.


About the author: George Deeb

George Deeb is a managing partner at Red Rocket Ventures, a Chicago-based startup consulting and fundraising firm with expertise in advising Internet-related businesses. More of George’s startup lessons can be read at “101 Startup Lessons — An Entrepreneur’s Handbook.”

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