Are you really a salesperson? Or an order taker?

Sure, you’re in sales, but are you really a salesperson, or are you an order taker? If you’re managing a team, are all your salespeople meeting their potential as a salesperson, or, again, are they just order takers? What’s the difference?

This is something that all managers, and salespeople themselves, need to be able to regularly evaluate.

It can be a difficult question to answer, but if your sales aren’t where they need to be, it’s a very real possibility that you, or your team, have dropped back from what is really required to be a successful, consultative, salesperson.

So, what’s the difference?

An order taker is someone who is simply putting through the orders the clients’ orders or ringing them up at the counter. Without actually asking the client about their situation, asking questions to qualify their needs, and looking for new opportunities. Order takers miss the opportunities to introduce the client to new products, suggest items that may be more suitable to their specific situation, and up sell.

The issue this creates is your clients aren’t always getting what is genuinely best for their situation, you risk creating a situation where your clients start to believe you don’t have their best interests at heart, and they’re not aware of your full range of products or services.

To help you prevent this, we’ve come up with a list of evaluation questions, so you can see where you sit, and how, if necessary, you can move back towards to salesperson role, and away from the order taker.

Do you provide value?
All salespeople, whether approaching a client who has entered their store, or cold-calling a company, needs to provide value as soon as possible. An order taker, on the other hand, will skip this incredibly important step. Not providing value early on in the conversation, makes it incredibly difficult to ‘earn the right’ to continue along the sales path with your client, and may end quickly with the client saying they’re busy and hanging up, or losing interest and leaving the store. As a salesperson, you don’t automatically have the right to continue a conversation, or to take your client to the next step in the sales funnel. The easiest way to earn this right, is to start with value, something of interest to the client, bringing something to their attention that raises their interest, making them want to know more, and wanting to continue with you. If you are not using this step effectively, you will be missing out majorly.

You need to know what questions to ask, and when to ask them

What type of questions are you asking, and when are you asking them?

This comes back to earning the right to continue. You wouldn’t ask a stranger in a bar to tell you their life story, they don’t know you, you don’t have the right to ask that. Likewise, you wouldn’t go into a cold call conversation with a CEO asking to see their numbers in order to show how you can help. The two common types of questions are; closed (low intensity), and open (high intensity). You need to start off with low intensity, easy to answer questions, and move up from their as you grow the relationship, and earn the right to take the conversation further. Again, this is relevant not just in B2B sales, but in retail too. This is why you start with easy questions like “How’s your day been so far?” and move into questions qualifying questions from there. An order taker finds out what the client wants, and gives them it. A salesperson finds out what they want, why they want it, and why they think that option suits them best. You then have the information you need to ensure your client is leaving you with something that suits their specific needs, as well as having opportunity to add on products that will complement the product they are purchasing, while being able to show them why this product will benefit their situation.


Do you work on increasing your sales base, or only maintaining it?

While it’s obvious you need to be consistently following up and maintaining the relationship you have with regular clients, this is where the order taker stops. Focussing only on current accounts is not going to grow your business by much, you may occasionally get a higher monthly spend from one or two, but that’s not a huge increase overall. Don’t get me wrong, it is incredibly important, you need to have, and maintain, a strong, loyal relationship with your clients, but you also need to be looking to acquire new accounts, build new relationships, and find new sales opportunities. You can’t just get comfortable servicing your current accounts, you need to constantly be looking for new opportunities.

These questions can be a bit of an eye opener, if you are truly achieving what you should as a salesperson, keep it up! If not, take a look at why, evaluate what you could be doing to further your sales, speak to your manager, put some goals in place. Ask if you can team up with someone more experienced, and learn from them as a mentor. Order takers can transition to successful salespeople, but it takes the discipline to ask yourself the difficult questions, and create a plan to overcome the issues you face.

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