People find this blog a lot of different ways.  One of them is through a Google search on various search terms.  Of all of the concepts that people search for on Google and which leads them to this blog, the one that comes up the most is the idea of sales personality.

As I have written before, I don’t believe in the idea of a correct or best sales personality.  The linked post was written after observing how often people ask about sales personalities on the LinkedIn Question and Answer forums (Remember those? That was a long time ago – before groups).

As I wrote – two years before writing this post – in February 2010 – sales is a skill set that can be taught.  The emphasis in that other post was about listening, which is not a personality trait.

Last week, I got another comment on that old post.  Someone else had searched for sales personality, found the post, and was actually relieved to learn that in spite of the fact that he was a technical person, his prospects at selling would not be limited by his personality.

He is actually even better off than he thought.  If there is a best kind of salesperson – again – arguably not a personalty type – then the best salespeople are subject matter experts.


Let’s look at the sales process to see:

The seven step sales process that I usually refer to can be broken down into three parts:

  • Getting a meeting (lead generation and prospecting)
  • Understanding the need (qualification and needs analysis)
  • Suggesting and securing agreement on a solution (proposal, objections & negotiations and closing)

The first and third part require some basic sales skills, like communication, time management, and being able to articulate a value proposition.

However, the core of a sales effort is needs analysis, and needs analysis is best done by someone who is a subject matter expert.

There is an old expression that a business or business person can be successful if they find a need and fill it.  Often, our imaginations wander to the “fill it” part first – “if only I could come up with some fantastic product or service…”

The more mundane, but critical part is the “find it” part.  As for salespeople, their job is to sell something their company offers to someone.  It is easiest to do this if you know what needs the other person has, then suggest a solution that fits those needs.

The best person for this work is a subject matter expert.  Think about it – the more that the solution provider knows about the situation, the better they will be able to flesh out the real problem, and suggest the best solution.

Take a simple example – a wine steward.  After you order your meal, the wine steward may come over to see if you might like a bottle of wine.  If he doesn’t know anything about wine, then he is not in a position to make a good recommendation.

But it doesn’t stop there.  If he is any good at all, he will ask what you are eating.  Now he doesn’t just need to know what wine is good, but what flavors are in the different foods to be eaten, and how that will pair with the wine.  Subject matter knowledge paired with a thorough, knowledge based needs analysis will yield better results every time.

If a salesperson asks great questions and comes to thoroughly understand the problem in a subject they understand well, the prospect is more likely to feel confident that the salesperson can solve the problem, and that the suggested solution will make sense.  In this respect – a subject matter expert always makes the best salesperson – whatever their personality type might happen to be.

To your success!


Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop your own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!