What New Roles Should Sales Play to Be the Best?

Forget that you’re in sales and that your role is sales.

Cast off this old school notion; you need to do other more important things to be successful in the sales profession.

Selling doesn’t come first, it comes last — Roy, un-sales person

Sales is not the means to the end, it’s the end. It’s not the antecedent, it’s the consequence.

The biggest problem I see is that ‘get the sale’ drives sales behaviour as opposed to creating the right climate which consistently results in a sale.

The emphasis is on selling techniques — funnel management, cold calling, overcoming resistance and a plethora of other aspects of achieving a sale. Teaching focuses on making the sales process more efficient by emphasizing micro tools for managing the client.

The emphasis is on the wrong stuff if enhancing sales effectiveness is the end game.

Yes, the sales job requires a toolset to make it as efficient as it can be, but it more importantly in my view requires skills and competencies to create the right customer climate that nurtures buying — not selling. Making the customer want to buy as opposed to equipping the salesperson to flog their wares in a more productive fashion is the new sales approach.

These roles, and the training required to play each, should precede traditional sales training.

Relationship manager

If you’re selling anything, it’s a strong, healthy, intimate long term relationship with a client. A relationship based on mutual respect and trust and one which will produce sales results over the long term.

Building relationships is complicated and requires a specific skill set. And it starts with ‘loving humans’, the innate proclivity to like another person, get close to them and want to help them.


The ability to develop a successful course of action in the face of uncertainty and unpredictability is critical to help a client. Proven competencies in considering market demand and competitive factors to formulate the appropriate way forward for a client is essential for consulting salespeople.

Strategy builds context for the solution sales eventually has to play to; no context = no sale.

Behavioural psychologist

If you can’t interpret your client’s actions how can you understand where they are coming from on a particular issue? You must acquire the skills to interpret the nonverbal clues they communicate — body language, tone of voice, facial expressions.

In many cases it’s the unspoken words that tell their story because sometimes they simply won’t tell you what they need, want or feel in words.

Your actions must be in sync with what your client is thinking; their behaviour says it. You must be able to understand it.

Conflict resolution specialist

Relationships always have conflict at one point or another, and it behooves the salesperson to know how to manage it with a client.

Successful progress is only made when there is meaningful compromise that meets the needs of both parties.

If the salesperson doesn’t understand this reality and continues to ‘sell’, they will never get the client to buy.


Providing guidance and advice is often a required in a meaningful relationship. The ability to listen to what your client is saying, ask questions for clarification and offer a logical opinion based on your understanding of the client is invaluable.

And the fact that the client trusts you enough to engage you in one of their issues speaks volumes about the trust they have in your abilities.

A rock

Every once in a while a client has a crisis. Something unexpected strikes them. They lose a highly profitable customer to the competition.

Their employees vote to strike after a lengthy labour relations negotiations. Their stock takes a tumble after their financial results underperform analyst expectations.

Your client needs someone to talk to; an ear to listen. They don’t want you to fix anything, just listen. And when you do, you’ve just earned the right to serve them a while longer — Roy, unplugged ears

Selling techniques are the entry stakes to sales; know them and participate in the game, but don’t rely on them to take you over the top.

Winning sales has much more to do with buying than selling.

Be competent at understanding what motivates people to buy and step away from the crowd; ignore them and be like every other struggling salesperson who may be amazing at the details of their craft but who never is in the top 10.

Related: This Is How to Use Fear for Career Success