What Role Should You Take When Selling?

BY Jessica Helinski
Featured image for “What Role Should You Take When Selling?”

Do you know all of the different positions that a rep can take during the sales process? While relationship selling is widely touted, it’s not the only way a rep should engage with a prospect. “Knowing the different positions you can hold as a sales professional will allow you to better adapt to different personality types and sales situations,” writes sales professional Michael Tracy in a blog post. He goes on to highlight three common positions, two of which are below:

The Consultant. In this role, the rep is the knowledgeable expert. Like a doctor, he or she diagnoses any problems with the prospect then prescribes a remedy. Tracy points out that there is a key difference between this role and the relationship role: “Notice, that trust and rapport are established by the authority of the sales person, not their relationship status.” The rep will have to have some honest talks with the prospect, which he or she might not want to hear. But, the rep’s authority, credibility and knowledge will earn respect from the prospect (and likely, a signed contract). 

The Teacher. This role is Tracy’s favorite. “It also allows you sell effectively while not wasting time developing relationships you have no intention of maintaining,” he explains. In this position, you empower the prospect with knowledge: about their industry, their competition, their customers, etc. With this knowledge, the prospect can make an informed decision about what is best for their business. This style is a blend of the consultant and the relationship role; the prospect trusts you because you are both an advisor and you've established rapport.

Not every prospect warrants the same approach. By doing your research, you can uncover which role fits best with each potential client. In most cases, Tracy believes, the teacher role will be the best choice. “Any sales professional can leverage this [the teacher] style, read industry specific periodicals, stay up to date and build a 10-​minute lesson into the beginning of your sales pitch,” he writes. “You will be blown away by the results.”