How come salespeople who are supposed to be good already still fail in a different assignment?” - Joey, Sales Manager

Remember the adage, “Use the right tool for the right job”? The crux of the matter is that different sales missions require different breeds of salespeople.

Analogy with the Military
The military has the army, navy, and marines, each with their own distinct sub-units. Recruitment criteria and specialized training vary despite having a similar basic foundation.  Still, there are special operations personnel like the U.S. Navy Seals who are a very potent force silently working behind the scenes of countless crises. They deliver quality results with precision, borne of genetics, audacity and the best training program, making them the ultimate modern warriors due to their versatility.

Types of Sales Missions and Sales People
In modern sales, missions vary as well. A commissioned salesperson predominantly hunts for prospect potentials, profiles them, discovers critical decision factors and helps them avail of subsequent benefits.  She needs the profiling killer instinct. But unlike her barbaric, closing-hungry 20th century ancestor, she suavely converts the stalk to a sale without hard selling, avoiding a negative customer experience. An FMCG booking salesperson predominantly farms. He covers a territory or a defined class of customers using a systematic process similar to a farmer, with the aim of maximizing the return on his land. Efficiency and value chain partnership development supersede the over-booking sprees of the past. Retail Shop Selling is also a different kind of breed. Unlike the clueless dinosaur who just obnoxiously blurts out “good morning sir/ma’am” and uses a robotic script, the modern shop seller proficiently reads customer body language to determine shopping drivers, shopping emotions, buyer personality and stage of shopping so she can manage customer experiences. She positions herself for intercept or circulation missions, dynamically rotating with others for optimal floor coverage, smoothly executing hand-overs and maximizing traffic-to-sales conversion, with guaranteed return trips and referrals thanks to positive customer experiences. Then, there is the Business-to-business Account Developer, who needs to be both master strategist and dexterous tactical operative. Unlike his messenger-minded ape-like predecessor, the P.O. chaser, he spends a good amount of time planning strategies guided by cutting-edge tools to profitably develop account business. He analyzes complex socio-psychological decision dynamics of individuals playing multiple roles in an organizational milieu. Using sophisticated methods of influencing and discriminating among 4 situational levels of selling, he delivers remarkable value to the client, with a profitable return to his company. Like a CIA operative on field, he is able to convert and utilize account-based assets, secure critical information through research and top-notch discovery methods and generate not only transactional sales but establish long-term partnerships that transcend shallow old-school relationship development.

Born or Molded?
When hiring a salesperson, the mission should be clear. Pathetically, a lot of wanted ads are too vague such as: male or female, college graduate, with pleasant personality – one might as well say, “also human and lives on Planet Earth”! It is hard to find the right candidate if you don’t clearly define who you are looking for. A prior profile mapping exercise alternatively yields an efficient search.
Baseline talent, largely aptitude, attitudes and predispositions derived from experience or previous training, can provide the raw material. Obviously recruits need to be spec trained and equipped to ensure their success. It’s a wonder how many companies think they can simply transfer product knowledge and get away with it! Even if they were pirating a veteran, it is still necessary to provide him the appropriate strategies, skills and tools.  The sink or swim mentality of the 20th century is obsolete. Talented candidates without genetic gills and fins get filtered out only to end up hired elsewhere and trained to deliver their opus-ultima! Either way, much opportunity, time, effort and money are put to waste by such lethargic, blood-letting traditions.

Hiring the right material and providing both the essential and mission-specialized sales training are critical in ensuring success of a salesperson at the least cost and risk, relative to the return on the human asset investment. In multi-channel organizations, develop versatile salespeople so they can perform in multiple channels.

The author is a Partner and Chief Sales Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. He trains, coaches and consults with both top-rate companies and SMEs using his original, practicable and scientific contributions into sales, negotiation and management. He will be conducting a seminar on Strategies and Secrets of Sales Achievers on April 8, 2014 in Makati where sales missions are tackled. He also consults on mapping salespersons’ profiles and missions. Please send your questions, comments or feedback to You can also visit
consults on mapping salespersons’ profiles and missions. Please send your questions, comments or