8 types of people whose sales ability could seriously cost them (part 1)

orderPay-off: understand the costly problem, find the fix
Investment: 5 minutes

This post has been carefully designed to put people’s backs up.

If it puts your back up, then hopefully I’ve succeeded in helping you take your first step towards making an important change to how you develop business. And don’t forget, such changes lead to more value, better outcomes and more rewards for your customers, your business, your boss, and you.

Ah, no worries, it’s the least I can do. Thank me later once you’ve picked yourself up and dusted yourself down.

OK, here’s what I’m about to do:

8 sales types

I’m going to suggest eight typical types of people who work in sales, BD, or technical sales, and point out why they might not be as good as they like to think they are (and they nearly always do have an inflated sense of self around their sales abilities – it’s a common human cognitive bias), and what that could mean for them further down the line.

It’s a word of warning. Consider me your guide. You could be on your way up a ‘certain creek’ and I could be your paddle.

If you identify with any of these sales types I urge you to challenge yourself (cowardly hey? Asking you to help me challenge you. But come on, we’re destined to win. Go on, knock yourself out.)


But you need to think this through because for each sales type there are potential consequences that could cause you problems later in your career. Probably right at a point when you really don’t want those problems. (You know, when the impact is really big. When it really matters.)

I know this is true because I’ve seen it happen to many. And once it happened to me. As I identified with some of them. I’ll share more about that later.

In 4 parts

To keep the post a little shorter, I’m going to address the eight sales types in groups of two that are closely related. So we’ll be done over four posts. Subscribe if you haven’t already (the bar at the top) and you want to hear the rest. It might just save you from careering off the road.

So unless you identify with either of these first two types, your ego is off the hook for now. But next week I may just take it down with a left hook. But you’re smart. You can handle that. Consider it a form of ‘Russian Roulette’.

Are you either of these?

OK, without further ado, are you either of these? (Or do you manage them or work alongside them because either way, you and your business could be heading towards that ‘creek’ I mentioned).

  1. Are you someone who sells high-demand products or services?

If so, you could just be an order taker.

One guy, with his head in his hands, said to me once, “I preferred it a few years ago when work landed on our laps!” This I found very funny.

What I once said to Apple

I once had the joy of working with those lovely technical sales engineers from Apple. I asked them to raise their hands if they were strong sales people, and they all raised their hands (and puffed their chests out).

I said, (and this is the closest I’ve ever come to being like Conor McGregor) “aren’t you just order takers?”

After we picked ourselves up off the floor and worked out who would pay for what, we agreed to look at their sales capabilities rather than their sales results, because it was around that time that Samsung were first beginning to cause them some grief. Their current results mattered not. Their ability and readiness to adapt and win the next challenge mattered. They knew they had to step up. (Plus, none of them wanted to be thrown in a room with ‘Steve’.)

If customers come to you, you’re likely to be deprived of growing your sales capabilities. Smooth seas don’t make skilful sailors. And you may enjoy the number of orders you’re currently taking, you devil, but when the tide turns, and it will, will you be armed and ready? Or will you have to take orders from someone you’d rather not? (Like ‘Steve’?)

If you’re in sales or BD, I would suggest it’s in your interest to grow stronger at what you are paid to do. You will almost certainly need these capabilities at some point in your career and life. They will free you from having to take orders.

Order takers spend their lives taking orders

Order takers can only become good order takers. Then, if your order taking opportunities dry up, you’re going to have to find another job as an order taker. Good luck to you. Those jobs are high in demand. Why not carve a path that you have more control over?

Notice the warning signs. Sales teams who don’t have to go out and proactively sell can become victims of their own circumstantial success. Order takers may have to live their lives taking orders.

You’d do well to set yourself some stretch goals around developing new business beyond that which comes to you. And proactively learn the strategies and tools to make this happen whilst times are good. I urge you to do that right now.

Or, could you be…

The locally well networked

2.Someone who has a strong local network that they have grown up with.

You could simply be mollycoddled by your local network consisting of old school friends who connect opportunities to you. It’s similar to the point above.

It’s fine, all the while those connections continue to bring you opportunities that you can convert into the right level and volume of business.

But your improvement of important sales capabilities could seriously be stunted.

What happens if you have to operate in other markets, or geographic areas where you are less-well connected?

Have your networking skills stagnated because you’ve always been a part of one core group that you grew up with?

Is word of mouth selling for you? What if you have to sell for yourself?

And do you tend to operate rather transactionally or are you holding deep value-exploration conversations with prospects that challenge them and their thinking?

You’d do well to set your own stretch goals around new business beyond that which your network brings you, and also work to expand your network beyond the comfort of your local network. Keep your proactive BD muscles strong.

Your environment can cost you

These are just two examples of how one’s environment or circumstances can stifle their ability to grow stronger at selling. Obviously, it doesn’t have to be that way. Everyone can improve and develop not just theirs, but their client’s businesses too. The question is, are they? Are you? And how can you support and accelerate the process?

If you want to talk further about that, I’m here.

Next week we’ll look at the impact of your level of experience on your ability to improve at developing business. You’re going to find it hard to wriggle out of that one, whatever your level of experience. But what you learn could be useful.



Scroll to Top