We all know that customers are the lifeblood of any business. But catching those customers requires a hungry and skilled sales team.
In many ways, your salespeople are your business. No matter what you sell or what kind of service you provide, the members of your customer service staff are your brand ambassadors. They’re the first point of contact for potential buyers, they can make or break the consumer experience, and the good ones are absolutely essential to your bottom line.
That said, not all salespeople are alike and, frankly, you shouldn’t want them to be. It takes a mix of personalities and professional strengths to create a team that’s equipped to advance your brand, and add value to your customer experience.
And while there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for building your dream team, there are five, specific kinds of salespeople that can help take your brand to the next level.
#1 – The Shark
The Shark. She’s aggressive with both customers and fellow team members (sometimes to a fault). When she’s hunting for a sale, she can smell when there’s blood in the water and she can close with tremendous speed and efficiency. Singularly minded when she has a goal in sight, The Shark is highly competitive – especially when it comes to money. Needless to say, she always has one eye on the sales metrics.
And sharks never stop moving. That means they’re consistently producing at a high level, regularly accounting for much more than their fair share of your store’s gross revenue.
Unfortunately, this bloodthirsty drive can come at a price – and your customers might be the ones paying. Sharks are so focused on the aforementioned hunt, they’ll sometimes sacrifice customer experience in favor of closing the sale. And sharks tend to underestimate the value of listening. Rather than selling solutions, sharks tend to rely more on their dominant personalities to drive a deal.
#2 – The Owl
The Owl. Your store’s resident expert. The Owl takes pride in his second-to-none product knowledge, industry insight, and process know-how. He’s motivated by recognition as a subject matter expert and eager to take on extra responsibilities that showcase his smarts, such as assisting in product training or providing peer mentoring.
If you have an owl on your staff, you can count on them to be a major asset to your team. They’re winners on the sales floor because they foster customer confidence with their knowledge and experience. When their presentation skills and process acumen are honed, they’re great at generating referral business, too.
However, owls aren’t necessarily the strongest leaders and will need help to develop these skills. Owls also aren’t usually as driven as their shark counterparts and they might require guidance to effectively use their vast knowledge in a sales situation. Ensure your owls understand that customer service isn’t about just looking smart, and use floor observations to coach them away from bad habits like the ‘data dump.’
#3 – The Dog
The Dog. Fiercely loyal, he thrives on the warm fuzzies he receives from satisfied clients, and is even more motivated by pats on the back and positive feedback from his superiors.
On the plus side, this loyalty goes both ways. Customers love dogs, which can cultivate long-term buyer relationships and repeat business to build a very sizable customer base. In a very competitive retail environment with lots of options, dogs keep customers coming back for more.
However, from a management perspective, dogs also need to be kept on a short leash. They can focus too much on keeping a customer’s costs low, even if a higher dollar solution would be more advantageous to either the customer, the company, or both. Your dogs must be trained to concentrate on solutions and benefit selling, rather than concentrating on the bottom line. Good news: your dogs, eager to please, are usually very trainable.
#4 – The Elephant
The Elephant. Highly intelligent, strong, and possessing a herd mentality, The Elephant focuses on the overall well-being of the group. She tends to be well-rounded and driven to succeed, with career advancement as her primary motivation. Putting her a career development track toward a leadership will keep her happy.
On your sales team, an elephant’s presence can’t be underestimated. They’re generally strong salespeople as they don’t want low sales numbers to remove them from consideration for promotion. Elephants are also proactive, seeking out opportunities for exposure to responsibilities of their immediate supervisor, with the hopes of a future move into that role. As a result, elephants free up sales leaders to concentrate on developing other members of the staff. As these reps build their skills and experience, they’re usually more than willing to pay it forward and assist in developing others, too.
On the downside, elephants can be impatient when they don’t see a clear way forward – they need reassurance from leadership to know they’re making progress toward their goal. Additionally, they may sometimes assume authority, which can cause friction among other team members.
#5 – The Lion
Last, but certainly not least is the king of the sales floor: The Lion. A dominant member of the team, The Lion sets an example for others from a position of respect established by wisdom and performance. Lions are great leaders – decisive, practical, and productive. And above all else, they’re focused on leading their pride (uh, team) to success.
But lions do have their faults. Sometimes cold and unemotional during disagreements, they can become overly aggressive when challenged by someone they perceive as inferior.
Let’s face it: the retail environment can be pretty wild. So, remember – whether you’re selling furniture warranties, cell phone protection, or something else entirely – make sure you’ve wrangled the right team bring strength and vitality to your business.
Wondering which sales beast you are? Take the quiz to find out.