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Indirect Sales Rep Profile:
Compare High Performers to Low Producers

Position Overview: Requires excellent product knowledge, the ability to identify customer needs to enhance current sales and a willingness to inspire sales reps and aid their development; this is driven by the ability to work long hours and strong presentation skills.

Predictive Skills: Seven characteristics will predict sales rep success in this sales position. Review below how top sales performers will differ from lower performers.


Organizes time to cover ongoing priorities and will make arrangements to cover whenever absence is unavoidable; understands that rewards are commensurate with effort and invests the time to get the job done; uses time efficiently during regularly scheduled hours so that extra hours are not inevitable, but is responsive to additional requirements or demands when necessary


  • Makes himself available after hours to respond to the needs of both internal and external customers
  • Organized and efficient in how he spends his time during the day so that the need to work unscheduled hours is the exception rather than the rule
  • Resists the distraction of nonwork-related issues that can interfere with his coverage of ongoing priorities
  • Accepts that his strong sense of duty to those who are counting on him cannot always be met during regular working hours
  • Prepares a back-up system to cover unpredictable or unpreventable overloads in his absence


  • Believes his personal time is off-limits and may resist interrupting his leisure activities to deal with work demands
  • Loses control of his action list and can become overwhelmed by ongoing priorities, making the inevitable extended hours a continuing source of frustration
  • Allows outside distractions, commitments or time demands to consistently take priority and prevent an efficient use of his time and resources
  • Fails to put into place systems or resources to cover customer needs when he is unprepared or unavailable
  • Prefers to personally handle all customer requirements, creating delays in the response time when he is not available to take immediate action


Increases sales with existing customers by stimulating the demand for currently purchased products and services; makes a proactive effort to build volume within established accounts by expanding the breadth of products purchased; monitors the potential for growth in volume by regularly tracking the purchasing history and spotting trends or problems in need of a solution; sees himself as responsible for facilitating the customer’s reorder and replenishment process


  • Develops a sales plan for increasing business with existing customers that promotes an expansion of the current product line
  • Pays attention to trends or problems for which the current buying pattern does not provide a solution
  • Works to generate continued business from existing accounts, emphasizing steady maintenance over periodic ‘home runs’
  • Tracks changes in the customer’s organization or specifications that would alter the existing business contract
  • Monitors product consumption to ensure uninterrupted delivery of the desired benefits


  • Concentrates efforts on new business development at the expense of maintaining existing accounts
  • Expects the requirements of existing accounts to be static and automatically met without a need for monitoring or intervention
  • Waits for the customer to present a repeat sales opportunity rather than monitor his purchasing history and take proactive steps to facilitate the reorder process
  • Misses opportunities to modify an existing business contract to include new products and solutions because he was not attentive to changes in the customer’s organization


Focuses on sharing information in an exciting and memorable manner; prefers group presentations; focuses equally on preparing delivery and content; stages a formal presentation to promote a more intangible product or service; responds to audience cues and reactions by altering a prepared presentation as it progresses


  • Customizes the program to the audience, using minimal boilerplate components
  • Takes the time to prepare a studied presentation, injecting into the content and delivery the cues and jargon with which the audience can identify
  • Is sensitive to audience feedback and adjusts the presentation to sustain their interest
  • Creates a memorable stage presence
  • Enjoys applause and attention when successful


  • Prefers to share information in a more spontaneous and off-the-cuff manner
  • Does not prepare a presentation with the audience in mind, but starts with a standard framework and makes cursory adjustments
  • Without the structure of a prepared presentation, he may fail to incorporate key components into the presentation or respond effectively to audience reactions


Uses strong personal identification with the product to influence others to promote and sell the product line; keeps the distributor fired up and committed to buying into a program or plan; works with other salespeople to help them close the large or elusive deal; breaks up the selling cycle into small increments and sets goals for each step; maintains the pressure to move forward through each step without becoming too pushy or overbearing; proactively reinforces the purchase decision, recognizing the risk that a product or program can be supplanted by the competition


  • Personally believes in the benefits of his product or solution and is willing to stand behind his offering when competing for the distributor’s interest or shelf space
  • Recognizes that the customer may have second thoughts or is being courted by the competition, and plants additional benefits or recalls to support the commitment to the buying program
  • Keeps the distributor motivated to promote his product line by working with distribution salespeople to close a challenging sale
  • Breaks the sales process into manageable steps, seeking continued agreement from the customer at each step before moving on
  • Applies enough pressure to keep a buying commitment from stalling but resists pushing the distributor into a neutral or negative position


  • Expects the product or solution to stand on its own merits and does not find it necessary to reinforce the benefits and ensure that the distributor is comfortable with the result
  • Does not take advantage of an opportunity to reinforce the added value of his program by working with the distributor’s salespeople to help close a deal
  • Excessive patience and a willingness to wait for developments in the sales process can result in displacement by the competition
  • Unknowingly loses customers early in the sales process because he does not continually assess their commitment throughout an extended sales cycle


Demonstrates a commitment to the continuous education and training of others as a means of increasing their overall competency and productivity; prepares more structured sessions to cover the most critical areas of learning for the audience; stays on top of information needed by colleagues and customers in an effort to serve as a resource; takes responsibility for motivating others to learn and retain key information; reinforces what is being taught through periodic repetition; regularly assesses individual and group competencies and routinely addresses them by adjusting his training


  • Prepares scheduled and consistent programs to train or educate others
  • Establishes measurable criteria for assessing progress in the learning process
  • Demonstrates patience and a willingness to repeat or reinforce ideas and information until the audience understands
  • Focuses training sessions on those competencies that will make a difference in the group’s ultimate effectiveness
  • Concentrates more on the results produced or change accomplished through his training than with how attractive or entertaining the training can be


  • Prefers one-on-one training or a more loosely organized curriculum to the structured requirements of a scheduled class session
  • Expects the people he is training to be self-motivated to learn and becomes impatient when required to repeat or reinforce information he has already covered
  • Does not implement a tracking process for assessing the effectiveness of his teaching efforts or the progress of his trainees
  • Enjoys working on content delivery and may be more concerned with the audience’s assessment of his public speaking skills than with the subject matter
  • Tries to make the training entertaining at the expense of providing only relevant information


Understands the critical role joint calls play in the ongoing development of salespeople; commits to using joint sales calls as opportunities to share expertise; demonstrates effective techniques; observes progress and judges the effectiveness of assigned salespeople; is dedicated to providing backup and expertise to help salespeople secure a close; accepts a supporting role in the sales process and sets level of involvement in accordance with what the primary salesperson needs


  • Regularly observes assigned salespeople in action to offer suggestions for skill development
  • Is willing to step out of the limelight and function in a supporting role
  • Responds to sales opportunities with minimal preparation; able to ‘think on his feet’ when circumstances change and share his rationale with the primary salesperson
  • Adjusts coaching or assistance to accommodate the unpredictable aspects of each customer contact
  • Keeps the focus of his training and support on getting the order, relegating his own administrative or procedural tasks to a lower priority


  • Can be tempted to take the sale out of the salesperson’s hands (show him how it’s done) rather than stand back and function as a final safety net (let him learn from his mistakes)
  • Needs too much information or preparation time to take the initiative in quickly evolving opportunities
  • May focus on tracking administrative or procedural issues at the expense of joining the salesperson on actual calls


Develops a comprehensive knowledge of products and potential applications; understands that up-to-date knowledge is required to maintain credibility as a subject matter expert with distributors and end-users; acquires knowledge through sources of published information supplemented with personal internal and industry contacts; keeps current on product/service developments through more formal learning opportunities; assumes the role of resident expert and develops product knowledge for the purpose of serving as a resource to others


  • Acquires the comprehensive knowledge of products and product sales strategies required to keep on target with client needs
  • Has the confidence in his expertise to establish himself as an effective resource
  • Believes that there is always something new to learn
  • Recognizes that his credibility as a resource to customers is dependent upon the frequency and thoroughness with which he updates his product and applications knowledge
  • Seeks or maximizes appropriate educational materials that will help him to stay on top of his job
  • Takes advantage of formal training opportunities that offer current product information
  • Utilizes the expertise of manufacturing resources as well as the input of end users to enhance his existing product knowledge


  • Prefers to focus on the big picture and may not develop an awareness of product modifications at a more detailed level
  • Thinks he can stay ahead of the customer with only a superficial understanding of products and applications
  • Believes that most recent developments are cosmetic and do not require in-depth investigation
  • Embarrassed to admit he does not know something, and will not feel comfortable asking for help or seeking the appropriate resources
  • Discounts study and training opportunities as an inefficient use of his time and resources

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