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We are pro-salesperson. We want you to succeed in B2B sales, which requires you to have a high sales status in your client’s view. By possessing a status greater than your competitor, you have an advantage in a contested deal. There are levels to this game, and you will need to move up over time. Common sales levels, from lowest status to highest status, are described here.

The Poseur: This level is for a person who wants to be a salesperson without doing the work to become one. Often, the poseur looks the part and talks a lot about sales, even though they have no interest in becoming a salesperson. Those with this status won’t be around long, as they will move on to something they believe to be easier.

The Neophyte: Every salesperson starts their career at this level. Because they are just learning to sell, neophytes are not yet competent to handle the sales conversation. It will take years of B2B sales training, coaching, and most importantly, practice to help them level up. If you are just getting started, know it will be some time before you are comfortable and effective. Practice, and ask those with a higher status to allow you to observe them sell.

The Salesperson: A true salesperson’s status is greater than that of a poseur or neophyte, but they still have plenty of levels to move up. The salesperson believes selling is their job, but they haven’t yet committed to what is necessary for them to excel in the role. Much of the time they are only selling because they believe it offers an opportunity to make themselves more money. Some will leave to pursue some other role, like being a teacher, mostly because they didn’t grab the mantle. This level will tell you selling is hard.

The Low-Effective Salesperson: The low-effective salesperson is winning some deals, but losing more. It isn’t that they are not trying to do good work, but they haven’t yet recognized how best to go about the sales conversation. Many of their peers at this level are transactional and fail to understand why what they are doing isn’t more effective. At this level, a salesperson is far away from a higher status.

The Middling Salesperson: At this level, the salesperson is finding their way through the sales conversation a bit better, although they may still prioritize their company and their solution as the value they believe they are selling. Some clients buy from them, but may take more time and experience for the middling salesperson to realize that their approach doesn’t lead buyers to prefer to buy from them.

The Effective Salesperson: This status finds the salesperson becoming effective at managing the sales conversation because they have begun to more clearly understand how to create value. The nature of an effective salesperson’s conversation provides them with the ability to win more deals because, instead of focusing on their own financial gain, they focus on helping the client understand the root cause of their problems and how to improve their strategic outcomes.

The Transformation: This level finds you entering the higher levels of sales status. A salesperson in the transformation is starting to move away from solution-focused approaches to create real value around the client’s decision-making. At this level, experience starts to cause clients to recognize you as a better salesperson than most others they have spent time with.

The Consultative Salesperson: The consultative salesperson has the experience to be able to lead their client through a customized buyer’s journey. Salespeople at this level provide their counsel, advice, and the recommendations that will ensure their client will make the right decision on their first attempt. Consultative salespeople win most of their deals without any trouble. Part of their effectiveness is due to their development over time.

The One-Up Salesperson: One-Up salespeople know their clients' problems better than they do. They also have a better understanding of the decision their clients are facing because they have helped many of them improve their results. One-Up salespeople can see what most others can’t, giving them a sustainable strategic advantage in a contest.

The Trusted Advisor: Once a salesperson has helped a client with their decisions and results, their status elevates them to the level of trusted advisor. To become a trusted advisor, a salesperson must help the client so well that the client is willing to give the salesperson control of their category. At this level, a salesperson is at the highest level, one that has them in charge of client decisions that impact results the salesperson is responsible for.

Your Sales Status

We worry about this idea of sales status because your contacts recognize the value you create.

At the lower levels of sales status, most salespeople lose deals before the end of their first meeting. Their lack of confidence and experience projects that they aren’t someone clients would trust with their business.

As you continue to sell, you may find yourself clearly seeing things that were once invisible to you. You start to change how you sell, avoiding the more transactional approaches and beginning to outpace salespeople who are unable or unwilling to make the changes that would prepare to sell more effectively.

Once you reach the higher levels of status, you have little trouble winning competitive deals. You are a true value creator, making it easy for your contacts to trust you with their decisions and their eventual solutions, which position you to help your clients generate the strategic outcomes you both need.

If you are a sales leader, leaving this article you may want to assess your team on their current sales status. Once you have identified each salesperson’s level, you can provide them with the B2B sales training and coaching to move up the scale.


Sales 2024
Post by Anthony Iannarino on March 14, 2024

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. He is the author of four books on the modern sales approach, one book on sales leadership, and his latest book called The Negativity Fast releases on 10.31.23. Anthony posts daily content here at TheSalesBlog.com.
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