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In my day, when men were men and women were women and television had 9 black and white channels, we had a profession called salesperson. It was an honored and revered profession. There were training programs for salespeople. There were watering holes where salespeople gathered to share tales of great victories, heroism and honor the departed martyred heroes of salesdom, oh and I forgot to mention, and mostly to tell lies.

Xerox had Professional Selling Skills (PSS) training, IBM offered training, as did Digital Equipment and Burroughs. Most major corporations trained their sales professionals (yes, professionals) in the art and science of sales. There was ongoing training in skills, account management, and pipeline management.

Today, sales is treated as a thing that someone either knows how to do, or they don’t, and for the startup founder, often with no formal background in sales, it is thought of as something of a black box. Prospective leads somehow go in one end of the box, and occasionally…. rarely, orders come out the other side. In the professional services industry, there’s a term, Finders, Minders, and Grinders.

  • Finders – The rainmakers, the people who bring life-giving revenue to a firm
  • Minders – The managers, the taskmasters that ensure the right people are in the right seats doing the right things on the bus
  • Grinders – The worker bees

When selling, there are similar styles and role definitions; not all salespeople are the same. There are:

  • Finders – These folks do the finding as defined by finding the right niche, defining the recipe for success. Unfortunately, it is the defining of the process or the recipe that motivates these folks, and when they figure out the puzzle, they get bored and move on to the next puzzle. They don’t keep grinding.
  • Minders – Account managers or farmers. These folks stay in touch with customers, keep them engaged, and maintain and grow revenue in existing accounts. These minders are defined by the relationships they make. They get their energy from people, and they’re motivated by being liked and needed.
  • Grinders – Transactional money-motivated bulldogs. They’re not going to figure out the recipe or the sales process, but hand them a recipe and a list to call, and they’ll grind through those calls. These folks don’t care if they’re liked or not; they ask aggressively tough questions like, “Is there a budget and how much for this project,” and “Are you really going to make a decision.” Grinders may need some help reeling the fish in, but they’ll hook a fish. They work hard for the money.

My Buddy Skippy

I once worked with a guy named Skippy. Now Skippy ran a great company, and yet it could have been so much more if he built a real sales organization. Yet Skippy once hired a salesperson, and that didn’t work, and that is how he came to believe that great salespeople are like, as he would say, the Easter bunny… they don’t exist. So, Skippster stopped believing in Santa and the Easter Bunny.

Well, Skippy, I once tried to score a goal in hockey, but the goalie stopped it. I didn’t just say that hockey goals are like the Easter Bunny; they don’t exist. No, I kept trying different techniques, kept practicing, kept shooting, hired a coach, and after about 1,000 failed shots, one day, when a sub-par goalie was way out of position, and I was mistakenly in the right place, I scored that goal, and you know what people say today? They say, “Hey, isn’t that the guy who once scored a goal?”

If Skippy kept trying, kept tinkering, and even brought in professional sales help, he might have scored his goal.

The salesperson who is great at Finding, Minding, and Grinding is a lot like the Easter Bunny. If you hire someone to fill all these roles, you are likely to fail. If you treat the sales function like art instead of the science that it is, if you hire a Minder to do the work of a Grinder, they will likely fail.

Generating revenue is the most important function of any for-profit business. Without sales, a for-profit becomes an unintentional non-profit. Yet so many founders treat the sales operation like an afterthought. Like it’s an “I Brake For Animals” bumper sticker instead of the engine that powers the car.

So, for those of you who want to build a great sales engine…. get to work. For the rest of you, you can play. Why don’t you stamp your feet and whine because you don’t believe in the Easter Bunny?

What Next?

Want to up your game in sales and in business? If you run a business, you are eligible for a free 1-hour, 1-on-1 coaching session. It’s as simple as linking and scheduling here.

Want to improve your odds of success as a leader? Want to get more than you thought possible out of your team? You can check out my new book, Intentional Leadership, available on Amazon, in Hardcover, Kindle, or Paperback by linking here.