The Sales Executive Council has found through their research that B2B sales people fall into one of five profiles – the Challenger, the Relationship Builder, the Reactive Problem Solver, the Hard Worker, and the Lone Wolf. Our experience tells us that while many top-performing sales people can display more than one of these behaviors, they do provide a quick shortcut to categorize sales professionals.
Many of our Top Performer articles illustrate these profiles. Johnny Van and Sonny Thielbar both are strong Relationship Builders, as well as Hard Workers. Jim Champy represents a true Challenger, as he brought new insights into the world of consulting and management through Index, the firm he co-founded, and his many articles and books, such as Reengineering the Corporation, co-authored with Michael Hammer. Glennis Beacham seems to be a great combination of the Relationship Builder, Hard Worker, and Problem Solver profiles (most entrepreneurs need some elements of hard workers).
It is also interesting to apply these labels to sales people and professionals in B2C environments. Here are some examples…
Take my local dry cleaners where “Mr. Tec” is on the job 6 days a week (they are closed on Sundays), and in our 10 years as his customers, we’ve only seen him miss one day of work. I suspect that this might be a common trend in this industry, a business built on the shoulders of “hard workers.”
I just received a hand written note from our server at South City Kitchen, an outpost of the Fifth Group Restaurants in Atlanta, GA. Like many restaurants, they have instituted a customer loyalty program, but this is the first time that I’ve ever received a handwritten note from a server. There are some great psychological studies on how server’s language and style affect the amount of their tip, but this is taking relationship building to the next level. I’ll return and ask for Linda by name.
The exploits and success of Apple’s Genius Bar in their retail stores are well established. Recently, one of our team members dropped by an Apple store with an iPhone that had gone dark. The Apple store employee looked up his account and informed him that the warranty on the phone had expired three days before. After a short pause, significantly longer from the perspective of the iPhone owner, the employee said, “No problem, we’ll take care of it” and gave him a new phone. The whole ethos of the Genius Bar is to educate and solve problems. If only my builder (we’re renovating our home) could display more traits of a Reactive Problem Solver, he would have a better chance of gaining my referral at the end of our lengthy project.
In retail and consumer environments, the standard five profiles seem to be well represented. However, I suggest adding a new profile: The Disinterested Short Timer. We’ve all been the victims of these lackluster providers of customer service.