Sales Lessons from My Dog and Cat

sales dogs and sales cats

Growth Orbit Insights

How Maggie my Golden Retriever and Boots (my daughter’s nasty cat) reminded me about an important lesson in sales!

by Chris Etter

For years I’ve affectionately used the term “Sales Dog” when referring to selling professionals, I don’t know that I’ve ever heard the term “Sales Cat”, but why? Now I am a dog person, but I know there are plenty of cat lovers out there as well. I started to wonder if I had been unfair all these years and inadvertently dismissed the true capabilities inherent in the feline species.

I decided to dive a little deeper!

I started with analyzing how Maggie and Boots would differ in their approach assuming they were in sales.

Maggie is clearly a relationship seller; she works hard to develop and maintain a bond with everyone she meets. She’s also a hard worker, and spends time working to make sure she’s pleasing her clients. She is someone you want to spend time with and it’s always an enjoyable experience.

Boots takes an entirely different approach; he really isn’t interested in a relationship unless it serves him (mostly food related).  Boots challenges every effort to manage his behavior. He is very selective when he chooses to show any interest in his client’s needs or requirements. But this creates a strange phenomenon. I find myself spending more time with Boots, trying to understand what he wants, than I do with Maggie. Because I’ve had to focus on it, over time Boots has successfully pushed me to alter my approach and think differently about how best to work with him.

So ultimately, who would do better in Sales? I decided to apply my favorite sales methodology, The Challenger Sale, written a few years back by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson. This was a fascinating study that refutes what most of us believe as true.  After studying thousands of sales events, they categorized salespeople into 5 profiles: Relationship Builders, Reactive Problem Solvers, Hard workers, Lone Wolves, and Challengers. Intuitively most of us believe that the relationship seller (Maggie) wins. But hands down their analysis showed that the Challenger won a significant percentage of the time.  In their model the challenger was the seller that was able to modify a buyer’s approach by providing transformative insight.

This study, while I don’t think is Nobel Prize warranting, points to a pretty important topic as it relates to us Sales Dogs.  While relationships are critically important, those of us that view that as our primary strength can and often do, lose to those crafty sales cats that have created a sense of inquisitiveness with our buyers. I’ve lost too many deals to “good friends” that ultimately bought from that damn cat!

So, what do you have on your sales team? Do you have sales dogs? Or, is your team more cat-like? How are you planning on selling differently in 2021?