Sales Role Agility

imagesBy Dave Brock

It’s human nature to categorize things and people. It enables us to build models and constructs. It enables us to more easily deal with ambiguity, abstractions, and other things. Somehow things seem easier and clearer when everything has a box and everything is in its box.

We characterize and categorize sales people–putting the different types into boxes–hunters/farmers, lone wolves, consultative, connectors, challengers, relationship builders, conductors, builders, transactors, and so forth. Each has it’s own characteristics. Depending on the fashion of the times, or one’s biases, one is perceived as better than the other. Need to acquire new customers, an executive will say, “We need a sales force of hunters.” Launching a new company, we treasure the lone wolf. In driving insight we want to build sales organizations of Challengers.

The problem with categorization, many models or constructs is they represent an approximation of the real world at a point in time. But reality changes things, everything isn’t as clean, we can’t put everything into a box and construct the ideal sales person or ideal sales organization. Build an organization of challengers in a transaction focused buying environment, and you will drive customers (and your own company) crazy. Look at a complex buying cycle and you may need a “challenger” to get the customer committed to change, but then you may need a “hard worker” to work with the customer in the myriad of details of planning, risk assessment, evaluation through other parts of the sales cycle, and then in implementation, you may need someone who is more empathetic or “relationship” oriented to keep the customer moving forward. Have an unhappy customer and a “problem solver” approach might be most appropriate. (I’ll use the Challenger categories for many of the examples in this post). […Continue Reading…]