How the 4 Types of Salespeople Find Success

(Blog #21 in the ongoing series derived from a book Harris DeWese wrote several years ago—“A Year of Selling Profitably.”)

I first became involved with print sales in 1982. Starting out, I was confounded by the failure and turnover that I discovered among salespeople.

Most print salespeople that I met in the early ’80s were depressed. They seemed trapped and lonesome in their jobs. They were getting no help from their employers.

  • Company owners weren’t training them.
  • Sales managers either ignored or abused them.
  • The plant personnel were at war with them.
  • Customer service people were uncooperative and blamed them for writing poor specs.

The salespeople were often accused of being drunken, lying louts. Gosh it was sad.

These horrid conditions led me to think about the role of the “print salesperson” and what led to the broad lack of success for many and the soaring success of a few.

It occurred to me that there are four types of salespeople. The more I thought about these four categories, the greater the clarity emerged for each description.

First there are inside reactive salespeople. These reps are supported heavily by pull-through advertising and powerful brand identification. Examples are automobile and furniture salespeople. The customer is drawn to the salesperson, where upon he must seek out the salesperson and initiate a conversation.

The next category is the outside reactive salesperson. This type calls on the customer in reaction to customers’ requests. Customer examples include grocery stores, drug stores and doctors for whom the salespersons’ role is largely that of a route detail person.

There are also inside proactive salespeople. They have a more difficult job. These reps are required to take initiative and contact potential customers. Good examples are stock brokers who telephone prospects to sell them on opening an account. Such solicitations require good persuasiveness and the ability to close.

Harris DeWese is the author of "Now Get Out There and Sell Something." He is chairman/CEO at Compass Capital Partners and an author of the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of info regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed 100-plus printing company transactions and is viewed as the preeminent deal maker in the industry. He specializes in investment banking, M&A, sales, marketing and management services to printers.

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