The Difference Between a Salesperson and a Professional Salesperson

Posted by David Chism | Mon, Mar 18, 2019

 The Difference Between a Salesperson and a Professional Salesperson

As you may already know, I lit­er­al­ly grew up in the paint­ing indus­try. Over the decades (includ­ing 20+ years as an adult work­ing and observ­ing behind the scenes), I have seen my fair share of sales­peo­ple sell­ing mil­lions upon mil­lions in paint­ing projects each year. 

On the oth­er hand, I have also seen what I would call order-tak­ers” — those who remain aver­age at best when it comes to sales.

Many of the under­per­form­ing order-tak­ers are real­ly not sales­peo­ple at all. Before I go much fur­ther, I should clar­i­fy that I’m talk­ing about mem­bers of the sales team who work for a con­tract­ing com­pa­ny that has goals of at least $750,000 to 1MM a year (for each sales­man). In order to hit or exceed a mil­lion dol­lars in sales each year, a paint esti­ma­tor needs to move way past being just an order taker. 

He or she needs to be a sales professional. 

I have also seen sales­peo­ple who can eas­i­ly sell upwards of $2MM a year. One of the rea­sons is because their com­pa­ny is well known in the indus­try and has a pletho­ra of qual­i­ty sales leads giv­en to the esti­ma­tors. Con­verse­ly, even this seem­ing­ly suc­cess­ful sce­nario could still be a case of sim­ply tak­ing orders and work­ing in mediocrity.

This all works well in a sol­id econ­o­my when leads are not that dif­fi­cult to come by. It’s a frag­ile sys­tem, though, and if there is not a good prospect­ing plan in place by each indi­vid­ual sales­per­son, there will inevitably come a time when sales will be a lot more dif­fi­cult to close. 

So, What’s the Dif­fer­ence Between a Sales Pro­fes­sion­al and an Order-Taker?

It’s actu­al­ly pret­ty simple. 

The pro­fes­sion­al sales­per­son is dri­ven, ambi­tious, and goal-ori­ent­ed. This indi­vid­ual will move heav­en and earth to prospect, sell, and nur­ture his or her prospects and cus­tomers for life. 

A dri­ven indi­vid­ual does not give up until the sale is won or lost. He does not allow his sales pipeline to have dozens (or even hun­dreds!) of pend­ing bids just col­lect­ing dig­i­tal dust. 

This pro­fes­sion­al focus­es on hit­ting and exceed­ing goals — plain and simple. 

This dri­ven pro­fes­sion­al sales­per­son also com­mits to using a CRM. It might not be the most amaz­ing CRM on the mar­ket, but he (or she) always has a next step in the sales cycle. He does not rely on his mem­o­ry but on proven sys­tems to sell. 

How about that order taker?

Well, he/​she just relies on his com­pa­ny to send him enough leads to keep him busy, and thinks he can be suc­cess­ful if he is giv­en 15 – 20 bids a week. If he gets that, he’ll hit his sales goal. If the mar­ket­ing depart­ment fails to get him the leads that week, it’s their fault. I didn’t hit my sales goals last month because…” 

This type of sales­man is not a prospec­tor. He waits for some­one to reach back out to him to let him know he is ready to move for­ward with a project. This sales­man is there to take the order, sell the job, and wait for the next prospect to line up and sign up. 

Can an Aver­age Sales­man Change?

Yes! I believe peo­ple can change, and that an aver­age sales­man can become a pro­fes­sion­al, dri­ven sales­man. It is easy to lose hope quick­ly in an under­per­former, and it is even eas­i­er to fire some­one who is not hit­ting their goal. At the same time, it is extreme­ly dif­fi­cult to go on the hunt look­ing for that incred­i­ble sell­er. Those indi­vid­u­als are hard to find because, well, they’re suc­cess­ful, and that means that they’re like­ly not look­ing for anoth­er job. 

If you want to find and hire a pro­fes­sion­al sales­per­son who, right off the bat, will hit $1.5MM+ a year with lit­tle or no super­vi­sion, you’ll have to find cre­ative ways to reel him or her into your organization. 

While there’s noth­ing wrong with look­ing for that incred­i­ble catch, you can still work on help­ing your aver­age sales staff achieve the next lev­el, both for their sake and yours. Admit­ted­ly, this will take a lot of work on your part if you are the own­er or manager. 

You will have to have reg­u­lar meet­ings, goals, and sales train­ing for your sales­peo­ple. You will have to help your sales staff move past being just aver­age order tak­ers, and empow­er and grow them into sales professionals. 

Ready for a Sim­ple Tip?

A sim­ple way to start is to ask your sales team to read cer­tain books on prospect­ing and sell­ing. You might even read them togeth­er and dis­cuss. If they’re dis­in­ter­est­ed or non-com­mit­tal, you might have some­one on your hands who isn’t will­ing to do what it takes to be a pro­fes­sion­al sell­ing machine, and is sim­ply com­fort­able with being average.

If you can grow them into a suc­cess­ful pro, you’ll have a com­mit­ted, proven team mem­ber whose eth­ic will ben­e­fit them AND your orga­ni­za­tion as a whole. 

About David Chism

David Chism started his business out of a passion for helping small contracting businesses grow, be more profitable and become better known to their target clients. One lifelong hobby of David is using techie gadgets. So this blog is a place where he writes about technology, marketing ideas, just for fun (humor), personal thoughts on small business and more.


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