3 Sales Rep Profiles Leaders Must Understand

November 10, 2016 Matt Cameron

Horses for courses, as they say and I want to share with you a framework for thinking about sales talent profiles and when you should/shouldn’t use them.

There are a lot of different ways you can profile sales reps, however I find these three the most simple and effective.


These are the charismatic charmers who can be pointed at a prospect and within a matter of weeks either be ‘besties’ or told to never darken their door again.  The artist is effusive, outgoing, and creative, but doesn’t bother digging into the details or worrying about post-sale outcomes.  They will either win big or lose dramatically but their main motivation is closing business through building trust and relationships.

Challenges for the sales manager

  1. You can’t rely on their forecast – There is no predictability of outcome because they are relying on being able to get people to like them and their vision – No repeatable process behind the work.
  2. They often get emotionally attached to a deal and lose slowly.
  3. The artist will often not see past the sale and therefore bring on customers that have a low likelihood of success with your solution.

The Engineer

The list builder, disciplined lover of process who is an adherent of GSD time management.  Their CRM is up to date, their pipeline robust and their forecast reliable.  They win through working the numbers, following the sales process and ensuring that nothing slips through the gaps.  They get frustrated and bewildered when they lose deals after following the text book process, but try as they might, there are some deals that go sideways for reasons they are at a loss to understand.

Challenges for the sales manager

  1. They tend to work on rails, so if a context is unstructured they fail because they adhere to a playbook that isn’t appropriate.
  2. They are often reluctant to try novel/unproven approaches and can get left hungry when someone moves the cheese.
  3. High performing SMB/MM ‘engineer’ reps have a high failure rate if they move to enterprise sales.

The Architect

These are the rare folk who have the process discipline of the Engineer, the creativity of the ‘Artist’  AND are strategic thinkers who can see an opportunity to create mutual value from 1000 yards.  Gifted with superior comprehension and analytical skills, they assume nothing is impossible and look to create lasting visions of beauty that both sides are delighted with.

The Architect is the ideal profile for enterprise sales and life would be grand if you could field a full team of them.  They not only have domain and product expertise, but have the business acumen to talk to any executive function with credibility (They often have MBA’s or have owned a business).  They are at every president’s club, are targets for poaching and should be applied to your highest value accounts.
Challenges for the sales manager

  1. They need mature management – New managers can make the mistake of micro-managing an Architect and they just need you to get obstacles out of their way.
  2. They are poachable – You need to give Architects the opportunity to create dramatic impact, otherwise they will take their skills elsewhere.  Give them your most strategic accounts and ensure that their uncapped compensation rewards them for the enterprise value that they are adding to your business.

When to use which profile

Artists: They have no place in new business sales – Notwithstanding, I have seen artists do well in channel management or stable account management roles due to their superior relationship skills.
Engineers:  These are very effective people to have as part of any inside sales SMB machine.  In a non-complex sale with a limited number of threads in the prospect, an Engineer will get the job done in a predictable manner.  They will hit the wall when a sale becomes complex.
Architects:  They are very high cost and should be moved to your highest value segment as soon as they are ready.  Junior Architects can be identified by their curiosity, creativity and a comprehension that belies their experience.  If you find one early, then give them the training fire hose and watch them outperform.  If you have an Engineer in Enterprise sales, they will be outmaneuvered by an Architect every time.

The post 3 Sales Rep Profiles Leaders Must Understand appeared first on the SalesOps Central blog.

Previous Article
How to Manage Your First VP of Sales
How to Manage Your First VP of Sales

This post originally appeared on Saastr.com.  Managing a sales leader for the first time can be quite a cha...

No More Articles