Hiring the Perfect Salesperson: A Deep Dive into Touch, Targets, and Traits

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I. Introduction

In the dynamic realm of sales, understanding the nuances of various roles is crucial for success. From the bustling retail floor to the high-stakes world of B2B sales, different roles necessitate distinct strategies and skill sets. Different roles also call for different type of sales people as a sales person star in one role could be among bottom 10% in a different role that requires different cognitive abilities, personality, temperament and values. This article delves into the classification of these roles through a unique model: Low Touch vs. High Touch and Individual vs. Business. Whether you’re a business owner, a sales professional, or someone intrigued by the world of sales, our guide will offer valuable insights.

II. Explanation of the Axes: There could be n number of ways to classify sales roles but this approach has emerged from interviews with top sales leaders and sales people across industries. And later on we noticed that it has a deep psychological aspect as well. There are two axes – 1.How much human interaction is needed and at what level? 2. Is the decision maker a single individual or a business (represented by multiple individuals).

A. Low Touch vs. High Touch

  1. Low Touch: This pertains to sales roles that require minimal personal interaction and often involve quicker sales cycles. Think of e-commerce platforms where the customer independently makes a purchase decision based on product descriptions and reviews.
  2. High Touch: On the contrary, high touch roles involve in-depth engagements, extended sales cycles, and significant relationship-building. Consider luxury car sales, where the salesperson may engage with a customer multiple times, offering test drives, explaining features, and customizing solutions.
  3. Recognizing the touch intensity is essential as it directly impacts sales strategies, training needs, and the overall customer experience.

B. Individual vs. Business

  1. Individual: These sales target singular consumers. A classic example is the retail fashion industry, where products are marketed towards individual buyers based on trends and preferences.
  2. Business: Here, the focus is on selling to other businesses or intermediaries. For instance, a company selling office software solutions is engaging in business-centric sales.
  3. The dynamics of selling to individuals versus businesses differ vastly. The latter often involves larger transaction values, longer decision-making processes, and a need to satisfy multiple stakeholders.

III. Deep Dive into the Four Sales Roles

A. Retail Sales (Low Touch, Individual)

  1. Retail sales thrive on volume and quick decision-making. With the rise of online shopping, there’s a shift towards automated sales processes, but the core remains: understanding consumer needs and trends.
  2. Challenges in this sector include fierce competition, the necessity of staying on top of trends, and managing inventory. Solutions often lie in effective marketing, efficient logistics, and exceptional customer service.
  3. Real-World Example: Consider brands like Zara or Apple. Their retail strategy is streamlined, from product display to the checkout process, ensuring a smooth customer journey.

B. Insurance Sales (High Touch, Individual)

  1. Selling insurance is about trust. It requires a deep understanding of the individual’s needs, financial situation, and life goals.
  2. The personalized approach is crucial. An insurance agent doesn’t just sell a policy; they sell peace of mind.
  3. Real-World Example: Think of insurance agents who conduct in-depth consultations, explaining various policy benefits, and tailoring packages based on individual needs.

C. Channel Sales (Low Touch, Business)

  1. Channel sales revolve around intermediaries, such as distributors or resellers, who sell products to the end customers. This structure focuses on leveraging partnerships to expand market reach.
  2. Effective channel sales strategies include setting clear partner expectations, offering appealing margins, and providing comprehensive training and marketing support.
  3. Real-World Example: Tech giants like Microsoft or Cisco often use channel partners to sell their products. By equipping partners with the necessary tools and knowledge, they ensure that end-users receive the best solutions for their needs.

D. B2B Sales (High Touch, Business)

  1. B2B sales are complex. They involve dealing with multiple stakeholders, extended decision-making periods, and often, customized solutions.
  2. Relationship-building is paramount. The salesperson needs to understand the business’s needs, challenges, and goals they’re selling to, ensuring that the solution offered aligns perfectly with the client’s objectives.
  3. Real-World Example: Salesforce, a leading CRM provider, engages in high touch B2B sales. Their team collaborates closely with businesses to understand their needs, offering tailored solutions that drive growth and efficiency.

IV. Implications for Sales Training, Development, and Selection

A. Implications for Selection with Cognitive Abilities, Personality Traits, and Values in Focus

  1. The success of any sales role is deeply intertwined with the cognitive abilities, personality traits, and values of the individual occupying it. Our model aids recruiters in identifying which of these attributes are critical for each type of sales role.
  2. For a high touch B2B role, cognitive abilities to understand complex solutions, a personality that thrives on relationship-building, and values that prioritise long-term partnership might be essential. Conversely, a low touch retail sales role might place greater emphasis on quick decision-making abilities, an outgoing personality, and values that align with quick customer satisfaction.
  3. Evaluating candidates based on these three dimensions – cognitive abilities, personality, and values – can lead to more informed hiring decisions, ensuring that salespeople are not only fit for the role but also equipped to excel in it.
  4. Real-World Selection Success: Consider a luxury car dealership (high touch, individual). When hiring, they might prioritize candidates with a sharp ability to understand customer aspirations, a charming and persuasive personality, and values that emphasize trust and authenticity.

B. Sales Training and Development

  1. Each sales role demands specific training programs. For example, retail sales might emphasize quick product knowledge and customer service skills, while B2B sales would delve deeper into negotiation tactics and long-term relationship management.
  2. The type of interaction, be it low touch or high touch, and the target audience, individual or business, directly influence the training modules, tools, and technologies that will be most effective.

V. How Organizations Can Use the Model

  • Recruitment: Aligning job descriptions and interview questions with the model can result in more fitting hires.
  • Performance Metrics: KPIs can be tailored to the nature of each role, ensuring clearer goal-setting and assessment.
  • Strategy Development: By categorizing sales teams using our model, businesses can design role-specific strategies, optimizing results.

VI. Conclusion

The sales landscape is vast and varied. Understanding the subtleties of each role is essential for both the salesperson and the organization. Our Low Touch vs. High Touch and Individual vs. Business model offers a fresh perspective, aiding in training, recruitment, and strategy formulation. Dive into this classification, refine your approach, and watch your sales soar.

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