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What Kind of Sales Animal Are You?

Ever feel like your sales team is a zoo? Turns out that's not a bad thing.

Salespeople can learn a lot from the animal kingdom. Every animal has dominant traits that allow it to survive in its environment--and so does every salesperson. When it comes to your selling style, what kind of animal are you?

  • Bear: The bear's strengths are leverage and power. Bears are also rugged, tough, determined and tenacious. Tenacity builds sales champions. The top sellers don't give up, no matter how many setbacks they face. Never under-estimate the power of tenacity. It offsets many deficiencies and sends a message to the prospect that you believe in your product.

    Of course, there's a fine line between professional tenacity and obnoxiousness. Strength and power can be misused. The next time you contact your prospect to close the deal, don't just ask for the order--bring up a new idea or solutionthat ties into your pitch.

  • Chameleon: Chameleons know how to blend in with the environment and adapt to a situation. Great salespeople have an uncanny way of adjusting their style to adapt to their customers' styles. They listen for clues that help them understand a customer's environment, then customize their presentation to blend in with the customer's key needs and objectives. Many great deals have been made because the salesperson noticed things the customer didn't and recommended something new that brought the customer's business added value.

    Watch out, though: Customers like salespeople who believe strongly in what they sell and don't change just to please them.

  • Dog: Dogs are known for their loyalty and friendliness. They're also quite persistent when they want something. Everything in sales comes down to the relationship and friendship you've developed with your customers. Whether it's finding ways to help them build their businessesor taking them to lunch, look for ways to strengthen that bond.

    But you should also ask yourself, How many friends do I have time for? Be careful how you spend and manage your time with all your clients.

  • Elephant: Elephants have thick skin, great memories and strong emotions. Being thick-skinned in sales is a big plus for dealing with all the rejection you encounter. And like elephants, great salespeople don't forget things. When you hear something your prospect says during a casual conversation and repeat it back to him weeks later, it makes a lasting impression.

    Be careful not to step on people on the way up, though. We tend to meet the same people on the way down, so always leave the door open with prospects who aren't initially a good match. Situations can change, and an account that is unqualified today can be an opportunity tomorrow.

  • Monkey: Monkeys are intelligent and have a great sense of humor. Humor breaks down barriers. Have you ever had a belly laugh with a client and felt like the relationship reached a whole new level afterward? Life is too short to be taken seriously. It also doesn't hurt to come up with intelligent ideas on how your product can move your customer's business forward. Doing your homework on your client's business can help your solutions hit home.

    Just be careful with your humor. What you think is funny might be distasteful or insulting to others. It's safest to laugh at yourself to connect with customers and show your human side.

Barry Farber is the author of 11 books on sales, management and peak performance. His latest release, "Diamond in the Rough" CD program, is based on his book, radio and television show. Visit him at www.BarryFarber.com, or email him at barry@barryfarber.com.

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This article was originally published in the September 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Animal Instincts.

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