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Order Takers vs. Sales Professionals

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As business owners we all know that in a ideal world prospects would just pick up the phone and give us an order ? but for most of us sales is not like that! Yes it would be utopia however have you considered the difference between order takers and sales professionals? Firstly they are two completely different animals. Lets face facts order takers are less likely to be skilled in sales technique. This includes the ability to easily up sell, cross sell or add on services. Order takers are by there very nature just waiting for the phone to ring and do not work on a pro active basis. If we left everything to the client then so many additional products would never have been sold.

Before I am told that they probably were sold something that they didn't want, lets examine the motivation for buying. If you were looking at purchasing software to run on a Windows based platform maybe it would be important to ensure that it worked with every release or version of the software. Some companies still have Windows 98 and have not (for whatever reason) upgraded to XP. If this particular prospect came through and presented the company with an order and found out later that the software was incompatible with Windows XP it is my belief that they would have expected the seller to let them know prior to purchase. The same could be said for printers. Imagine an real estate agency that wanted to print thousands of property particulars. If they bought a bottom of the range ink jet printer as opposed to a colour laser they would possibly be feeling cheated when the printer just didn't meet expectations.

Salespeople are taught (or should be) to manage expectations and recommend appropriate products and services. Money is tight for everyone (I think it always has been) and I believe that nobody is tricked into buying something that they don't want by some smooth talking sales person. Unfortunately apart form the very basic advice that may be given at the point of purchase most order takers won't even recognise an opportunity. That could be an expensive mistake if you were considering the value that the prospect brings over the buying cycle. For many companies this is measured in years. A bookstore can attract buyers whose buying pattern is measured in years (say 5 years at 12 purchases per year). A trained salesperson will recognise this and ensure that they are helped with the current order and try to anticipate future buying habits. Some of the big companies on the internet have employed this ? when you order a book another window may popup suggesting other books to purchase thus increasing the order value at the point of purchase.

Lastly remember this, order takers shine when the market is buoyant in a declining market sales people have built solid relationships that they leverage and still make or exceed targets ? the choice is yours.

? The Sales Academy 2005.

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Mike Palman, is a Global Master Sales Coach and Author. Mike helps people and businesses do more, do it better and get results that they want. Mike had a successful career in sales for over 25 years and now helps other salespeople get the sales edge. Mike lives in both the UK and South Africa. For more articles by Mike Palman, visit

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