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The 4 types of sellers, and how to coach them to success

By: Salesloft Editorial


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Even though they may have similar roles and goals, no two sales reps are the same. The SDRs and AEs who make up your team are all individuals, and they’re bringing their own approaches and levels of experience to the table. 

Why, then, are so many sales leaders treating them the same?

As a front line manager, it could be hurting your team if you’re only looking at attainment to assess whether or not an individual rep is succeeding. That metric alone may not get you to the core issues affecting the various sellers on your team. Managers should make a point of defining areas of improvement to streamline sales processes and training techniques for individual reps. 

And we’ve helped you out by defining four main types of sales reps you’re likely to have on your team. 

1. The Enthusiastic Beginner

First-time sellers often come in burning bright and ready to win. But the flip side of that enthusiasm means they’re also most likely to burn out and get overwhelmed trying to prove themselves. Many people who are new to a sales role may struggle to hit the key milestones on their ramp plan. When you think about it, it makes sense. This cohort has so much to learn: what your company does or makes, how your product works, how your team sells that product, your new seller’s role within an existing team, and so on. It can be hard to keep track of all that for more tenured sellers — let alone someone totally new to your organization. Historically, new reps who aren’t on track by their third quarter are likely to quit. There’s a real possibility that you could lose three quarters of training — and a tenacious new team member — simply because of an approach that didn’t fit that hire’s experience. 

How to help this seller:

The Enthusiastic Beginner needs clear goals and specific direction on how to achieve them. Show them what to do, when to do it, where to find the tools and resources they need, and how to follow all the established processes. Monitor their performance closely and provide frequent feedback on results. These individuals will likely need a lot of help and repetition. So be clear, consistent, and patient.

2. The Disillusioned Learner

After an early period of rapid improvement and advancement, many sales professionals hit a performance plateau. They may have thought that sales would come more easily than it does, or they may have moved over from a different role where they were more immediately successful. As a result, they can get easily frustrated and may be quick to abandon the process or fall back on bad habits. A jaded sales rep is going to require a lot of acknowledgement and assistance to get them back up to a performance level that can keep them satisfied.

How to help this seller

The Disillusioned Learner may treat direct instructions with skepticism or even suspicion. They still need clear direction on goals and the tasks they have to accomplish, but they also need to understand the why behind them. These individuals aren’t ready to be fully independent yet, but make sure they know you value their input and encourage them to get involved in decision-making

3. The Capable, but Cautious, Contributor

When a rep has been selling for a long time in the same role, they may start to operate on autopilot. They are still a consistent and reliable part of the team, meeting quotas and working the established processes. But they lack the confidence to push forward, even though they may be growing bored with their current level of performance. These solid team members are often overlooked, but they also need (and deserve) support to make sure they are successful and satisfied in their roles.

How to help this seller

To nurture the Capable, but Cautious, Contributor, you need to facilitate, listen, encourage, and support. You can support this person’s efforts by listening to their suggestions and asking questions to build confidence in their competence. Encourage these individuals to step outside of their comfort zone and make decisions together

4. The Self-Reliant Achiever

At the highest end of the development spectrum, we have the top performers. Self-Reliant Achievers are very confident in their abilities and constantly working to improve and achieve. These individuals are highly committed to the process, and may be ready to take on extra responsibilities.

How to help this seller

The Self-Reliant Achiever already makes most of the decisions about what, when, and how they work — but that doesn’t mean they don’t need any coaching at all. Show your top performers that you value their contributions by giving them new challenges and room to grow.

In any group of quota-carrying sales reps, you’re bound to get a wide mix of personalities — go-getters, quiet contributors, and everyone in between. To support them all, you need to understand their individual level of competence, while also providing them with clear instructions based on their performance type. With regular and proactive feedback, practice, and repetition, your sales reps will see continuous improvement. And you will maximize the potential of your team.