The Five Most Common Types of Salespeople

Rather than just typecast prospective customers, I also like to analyze different types of salespeople I’ve come in contact with in my years of selling. Salespeople “crack” me up, because they don’t think anyone understands how they operate. I have listed below the five most common types of salespeople I’ve had the opportunity to typecast over my career.

The “Ghost” Sales Rep – This has got to be one of my favorites. The “ghost” sales rep typically works in an industry with repeat customers that buy every month. This rep is usually hardly ever seen in person, hence the name – “ghost”. He or she is just a voice on the other line, and primarily drives business by using the phone only. While this rep is not a new business kingpin, they usually are half decent at getting price. The reason why is they don’t want to have to work harder when prices are lowered. This might call for “face to face” activity and the ghost sales rep can’t have that! When times get tough, this rep has a hard time digging his or her way out of it. In most cases, this rep is found in the average or slightly above average category when it comes to performance. If they can burn up the phone through massive cold calling, they can make it to the top.

The “T to T” Sales Rep (aka – Tuesday to Thursday Sales Rep) – Obviously, this sales rep hates working in the field on Mondays and Fridays. Ghost Sales Reps were usually in this classification at some point before they decided to stay home! T to T reps can actually become very proficient, and use Mondays and Fridays for organization, paperwork, getting reports done, cold calling, and planning sales strategies. They seem to maximum their “face to face” activity to the utmost from Tuesday through Thursday. Believe it or not, they are quite a few top performers that are “T to T” sales reps. Most are usually “status quo” salespeople, however.

The “Rule Breaker” Sale Rep – Usually very independent, this sales rep is horrible when it comes to doing paperwork or getting in reports on time. They are also cynical when it comes to rules and regulations, though they very rarely voice their dissent in company meetings. The rules breaker is not necessarily dishonest, and he or she is very creative in driving new business. A lot of top performers are rule breakers, because they do what it takes to make their number. They have come to understand the phrase – “Better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” The rule breaker is usually found at the bottom or the top, and seldom can be classified as average.

The “By the Book” Sales Rep – This is the prototypical sales rep most companies go after. This sales rep will always work the required hours, get paperwork in on time, and put a lot of strength on the company’s own method of selling. However, this sort of sales rep usually finds it hard to make it to the “top performer” level. While they work hard, they usually lack the creativity to drive business at a high level. They seem to call the “boss” on just about every semi-difficult situation they face. 80-90% of reps in this category could be classified as “average” when it comes to their sales performance. Their sales numbers also usually match the company’s overall growth or decline.

The “Price” & “Complainer” Sales Rep – This is the sales rep that loves the sound of his or her voice in company meetings. Why? – because they love to complain! When dealing with customer complaints, they will almost always blame the company and have a hard time negotiating a “fix” with the customer. They are cynical beyond belief about company rules, but after voicing their dissent they actually follow the rules most of the time. This rep always gives away price unnecessarily, and likes to complain about company prices being too high, also. This type of salesperson never makes it into the top performer category unless they are extremely lucky. When it comes time to scale back the sales force, this person becomes an easy target for downsizing. This is also the most common sales rep type to leave the sales profession behind altogether.

Well there it is…the most common types of salespeople I’ve run into over my career. If you have one in mind that isn’t described above, please feel free to leave your description as a comment to this post.

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