Sales People Are Like Dogs

Now, now – I said they were LIKE dogs, not that they ARE dogs. There is a subtle but distinct difference and you know it. Tsk tsk. So if you’re in the business of recruiting or managing salespeople – or just simply want to understand them better – here are some of the key breeds.


Bright and alert; they seem pretty good fun at first but once they’ve got a grip, they just won’t let go. They energetically sink their little teeth in to their prospect and hang on and on, unfazed by the likelihood of a bit of a scrap. If the customer actually manages to disentangle them, they make a lot of noise resulting in customers either giving in in desperation for it to stop or shutting them somewhere very, very far away.


Bouncy, lively and fun they will consider that the sheer boundless joy of their enthusiasm will be enough to win customers over. They love to “fetch” and will supply customers with all the information (and more) that they will ever need. But their enthusiasm can lead them to be unruly – reckless even – and they can bite without provocation causing initially keen customers to veer off in any other direction just to get away.


They will attempt to love their targets into submission. Inherently happy, friendly and likeable they will be honest and true in all their dealings with them with a view that this will result in their customers spontaneously offering them their business. They will rarely ask for this business of course, but will be very appreciative if that is the result. Even a small scrap from the customer’s table will result in excessive joy. You may find this tedious over time.


They are intelligent, quick to learn and will take no prisoners. Aggressively targeting customers (for in their eyes, they “belong” to them) they will use all force they consider necessary or appropriate to come out on top. For them; this means that they will win and the customers will lose. They will see this as a well- deserved victory and therefore, a good result.


They look attractive, appealing and adorable and first impressions are certainly positive. Both you and your customers will notice their groomed appearance and image- consciousness. However they may transpire to be snappy, nervy and a strange combination of both anxious and shy. Long-term relationships will require more work on your part than you (and your customers) may be prepared to invest.

So – what do I wish for you in the recruitment of your ideal salesperson? Enough Terrier for persistence and resilience, for selling can be a relentless business. Enough Labrador for likeability honesty and loyalty, for most customers can sniff that out (or the absence thereof) in seconds. Enough Rottweiler for quick thinking and intelligence and enough Spaniel for bounce, enthusiasm and customer-focus. And a dash of Chihuahua to look the part, especially if they are face to face with customers and/or your customer base or market is image-focused. Something of a “mongrel” in fact. But if you hire a Labrador, please remember that even the best trainer in the world can’t turn him into a Terrier. Or indeed, any other breed into any other breed (not without cross-breeding anyway, and to my knowledge, none of us trainers do that…).

So decide first what is right for you, your product or service, your market and your company’s culture. And hire that. And then bring in a good trainer to get the very best out of your breed. ■
Ali Chadwick is director of The Vital Consultancy
01733 243595 / 07764 683454

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