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What’s the profile of the most successful salesperson?

Success is a matter of matching the right sales profile to the organization and its revenue strategy

By Jose Ruiz | Alder Koten Institute

Whenever I ask this question, the answers pour in, and they typically focus on hunters and closers. The extrovert overachievers that are vocal and get thigs done. The right answer is – the type of profile that will help the organization meet its target sales numbers. 

Hunters and closers will help reach a specific and essential niche of a company’s customer universe. So before we generalize, let’s discuss the five sources of income that every company should consider when working on their revenue and sales strategy.

The Five Levels In The Revenue Strategy

Level 1: Maintaining revenue from current customers

If you’re an established company, your first focus should be on making sure that you retain the revenue from the customers that you already have. It may sound obvious, but it is easy to overlook your current base of customers when you’re looking for ways to grow the business. If you’re not careful, you will not only need new customers to grow; you will also require new customers to replace the ones you’re losing. 

Level 2: Adding revenue from current customers

The first step to adding new revenue is to dig deeper into your existing customer base and increase the amount that they buy from you. Thrill them and make sure that they don’t just come back, make sure they come back for more of what they are already buying. 

Level 3: Adding revenue from new customers from current products and markets. 

This is the low hanging fruit for new customers. You don’t have to develop new products or worry about the costs of expanding into a new region. It may require you to increase your resources, but they should be predictable and of lower risk than venturing into levels 4 and 5. 

Level 4: Adding revenue from current customers from new products and new markets.

This level requires you to step into developing new products and new markets for current customers. It carries the risk of development, but it leverages the knowledge of your existing customer base. Working with current customers allows you to focus on their known needs, requirements, and expected volume to reduce the risk of venturing into new products and markets.

Level 5: Adding revenue from new customers with new products and new markets.

Level 5 is, by far, the most complicated and sophisticated level to add revenue. It requires at least two learning curves that will require time and investment. Strategically planning for level 5 revenue can guarantee sustained and long-term success beyond the companies current comfort zone. 

The Alder Koten Sales Profile model considers the five levels of the revenue strategy to identify, evaluate, and select sales talent. The model uses six dimensions: Type, style, intensity, community, role, and drive.

The underlying premise is that success is a matter of matching the right sales profile to the organization and its revenue strategy. 

The Six Dimensions of the Alder Koten Sales Profile

Type

The Type dimension evaluates if the person is a hunter vs. farmer profile. In general terms, the interests and the personality of hunters focus on finding new leads and new customers while farmers focus on nurturing current relationships.   

Style 

The Style dimension evaluates the person’s empirical vs. methodical approach to sales. The empirical side of the style dimension reflects actions and decisions based on instinct and learning acquired by experience, observation, and experimentation. The methodical side of the style dimension reflects actions and decisions based on a planned, systemic, and disciplined approach. 

Intensity 

The Intensity dimension evaluates if the person is a sprinter or a marathoner when it comes to the sales process. The sprinter side of the intensity dimension reflects a focus on imperfect pragmatism and being effective in the short-term. The marathoner side of the intensity dimension demonstrates a focus on a thorough approach and effectiveness in the long-term. 

Community

The Community dimension evaluates how the person’s individual needs balance against the needs of the group. The individual side of the community dimension reflects a belief in personal freedom and achievement is essential to achieve team results. The group side of the community dimension demonstrates a belief that the group provides a more significant, stable, and dependable structure to achieve team results

Role 

The Role dimension evaluates the person’s balance between their leadership vs. individual contributor role. The leadership side of the role dimension reflects actions that drive results through others. The collaborator side of the role dimension reflects activities that drive results through individual and direct actions. 

Drive

The Drive dimension evaluates the person’s closer vs. promoter approach to deals. The closer side of the drive dimension reflects the unique ability to see things to the end. Closers place the deal before the long-term customer relationship. The promoter side of the drive dimension demonstrates the ability to build relationships. Promoters place long-term customer relationships before the deal. 

The Alder Koten Sales Profile Assessment evaluates each of the six dimensions. There are no absolutes. Successful people require a balance to achieve results in both the short and long-term and trade-offs are necessary. 

Matching The Five Levels In The Revenue Strategy With The Six Dimensions of the Alder Koten Sales Profile

Two dimensions are agnostic to all levels in the revenue strategy—the intensity and role dimensions. The type of product or service is the most significant element to define if the required intensity is that of a sprinter or a marathoner. Sprinters are very useful, where being responsive is essential, and sales cycles are short. Marathoners are more effective with complex and long-cycle sales. As the name implies, the role the person will play in the team is the most significant factor in determining how they should lean towards in the role dimension. 

Level 1: Maintaining revenue from current customers

Being successful in maintaining income from existing customers requires building long-term relationships and placing the long-term customer relationship before the deal. Successful Level-1 salesperson lean towards the Type->Farmer and Drive-> Promoter since they need to spend time developing current relationships and improving their influence and credibility to foresee trends. An essential element of maintaining revenue from existing customers is maintaining their satisfaction with the full cycle from request to delivery. This full-cycle focus requires the successful Level 1 salesperson to deliver results directly and through others. A healthy balance leaning towards the Community->Group is essential.  

Level 2: Adding revenue from current customers

Success at Level-2 requires a Type->Farmer approach but with more of a Drive-> Closer focus. There is an underlying need to be effective at account management, which is a trait that Type->Farmer excels at, but there is also a need to be more aggressive in seeking to close deals. That is where the Drive-> Closer part of the profile comes into play. As with Level-1, a healthy balance leaning towards the Community->Group is essential. Increasing sales from existing customers will require collaboration from everybody involved in the delivery team. The typically extroverted approach of a Style->Empirical profile can be useful in increasing sales from current customers, but it is the Style->Method that will drive results. There is no better way to increase sales from existing customers than a systematic follow-up to maintain engagement. 

Level 3: Adding revenue from new customers from current products and markets. 

Level-3 is where the most aggressive sale can take place and where the Type->Hunter will excel. A Level-3 assumes that your product, company, and brand have a reputation in the market that will exceed the individual reputation of the salesperson. The ideal combination for a highly successful salesperson for Level-3 is Type->Hunter + Drive->Closer with a balanced Style (Empirical-Methodical.) These profiles are typically the most difficult to find, the most difficult to hire, and the most difficult to retain. They are generally successful and making money, but they are also risk-takers. With proven products and markets, there is room for the speed and aggressiveness of a Community->Individual to be successful without being destructive. Especially when the sales occur in the field. However, the aggressiveness required to be successful at Level-3 will commonly enter into conflict with the profile necessary to be successful at Level-1 and Level-2. It is wise to consider a hand-off at some point in the customer journey. 

Level 4: Adding revenue from current customers from new products and new markets.

Success at Level-4 means that the relationship with existing customers can provide coverage and patience to develop new products and markets. It assumes that your reputation with customers is strong enough to carry into new products and markets. This level requires a balanced Type (Hunter-Farmer). A typically strong Type->Hunter + Drive->Closer could be too overwhelming when asking a customer with a current relationship to take a risk. A Drive->Promoter profile will have the patience and listening skills to acquire customers’ trust, and a Style-> Empirical approach will feel at ease with the ambiguity of an unproven product. Every new product and situation will require iteration and excellent communication to iron out and improve. There is a high need for a successful Level-4 salesperson to lean towards Community->Group.

Level 5: Adding revenue from new customers with new products and new markets.

This level requires a balanced Type (Hunter-Farmer). The Type-Hunter side of the profile will have the skills to target new customers. In contrast, the Type-Farmer side will have the skills to develop a new relationship to build patience while working with unproven scenarios. A Style-> Empirical salesperson will feel at ease with the uncertainty of an untested product and untested markets. As with Level-4, a Drive->Promoter profile will have the patience and listening skills to acquire customers’ trust, and a Style-> Empirical approach will feel at ease with the ambiguity of an unproven product. A successful Level-5 salesperson requires full engagement and collaboration with a broader development team. Under this scenario, a high Community->Group score is significantly essential.