By George Dutch
Which of the three relational categories do you think is best suited to sales positions? The client who most enjoys playing the field, meeting lots of new people, and interacting with others at least 80% of their time on the job? Or, the person who is a natural team player and invests most of his or her time and energy in maintaining relationships so that ties and bonds strengthen? Or, the solo artist, the person who loves to work about 80% alone in a concentrated manner on tasks requiring his or her expertise? The answer: all three are suited to sales positions, if they have a persuasive talent for closing sales!
The relational talent is not a selling talent. A relational talent helps us understand the kind of role our clients might be best suited for in the workplace. For example, the client who is multi-relational and tells you stories about how much they like to meet lots of new people at parties, concerts, social mixers, conferences, conventions, network marketing meetings, meet & greet nights, and so on, may fit well into the kind of sales environment that is stereotypical of the profession, i.e. cold-calling impulse-driven sales where establishing rapport quickly and easily is necessary in order to make the sale. Think of telemarketing, and how important it is to establish a personal connection in the first 30 seconds or so in order to make a sale; or the personal rapport necessary between a used car salesperson and a prospect; or, the trust that needs to be established quickly between a real estate broker and a buyer or seller.
Most sales positions are best suited for the natural team player because most sales are Account Management positions, in which a sales person has a group of accounts that they service. Their job is about maintaining relationships, getting to know their client or their client’s business really well, getting them to open up about their challenges and issues, in order to determine how the products or service they represent can help their client solve problems and attain their business goals and objectives. Account managers send out birthday cards to their clients, take them golfing a few times a year, do lunch on a regular basis—they maintain the relationship. Listen to your client’s stories to find out if they love to join teams, professional associations, family gatherings, and make key contributions to building up relational ties in those groups.
The expert who loves to work solo is suited to technical sales, where it is necessary to know a lot about a particular industry or service in order to sell into that space. If you are going to sell a nuclear reactor, you probably need a PhD in Physics in order to discuss features and benefits with engineers and physicists responsible for the purchase, installation, maintenance, and repair of such complex machinery and equipment. The expertise required for technical sales is usually acquired through many hours of solitary study and work. Listen for clues in their stories that reveal them seeking out opportunities to work alone in depth on personal or professional projects.
Of course, all three sales positions cover a spectrum of experience related to a particular industry, but listen as your clients reveal clues to their natural job fit for different job scenarios. Yes, we CAN do a job through sheer determination, even struggle. But when our natural strengths match the job requirements, we tend to excel, and make it look easy. What your clients do naturally and effortlessly is revealed through stories about times in their lives when they are doing something they enjoy, and do it well. As career professionals, all we have to do is listen and map those clues to job opportunities.