Is Your Sales Candidate a Hunter or an Order Taker?

by Chris Young

Ever hire a salesperson who talked a big talk during the interview process - they said they were a hunter - they interviewed like they were a hunter, yet when the rubber hit the road - they were really an order taker?  

I have too...  Way too many times.    

The role of being a "good hunter sales professional" is to be an industry expert, share best practices, and purposefully shape the mind and future of the Prospect or Customer.  The actual sales process must create value for the Prospect or Customer through a consultative sales process (think Challenger Sale).  I would even say a good hunter salesperson is provocative - they get their Prospect / Customer thinking differently.  

If the relationship and the price is all a salesperson really has as a "bargaining chip" - chances are they are an "order taker".     


Why are order takers order takers?

After more than 20 years of being a salesperson, sales manager, sales VP, and consultant, I can safely say that more than three out of four salespeople are order takers.  Most salespeople do little more than show up, take the order, and take credit for the sale.  I think the marketing department of many companies actually sell more than most salespeople.  

An order taker is an order taker for two reasons:

  • They are behaviorally and motivationally - "wired" to take orders.
  • They are trained and/or the company culture encourages order taking.  Use_a_sales_personality_test_to_hire_hunter_salespeople_and_avoid_order_takers

Order takers do not like conflict.  Therefore, they do not challenge Prospects / Customers because they are afraid to upset them.  Instead, they "coddle" the Customer - they take their orders.  The Customer then demands they work with their order taker because that salesperson gets them a great price, preferred terms, etc.

The sad reality is while many order takers feel they are adding value to their Prospects / Customers, they are in fact doing them a disservice. No new ideas are exchanged during order taking. No real value is created.

How to identify a future order taker during the sales hiring process

Identifying an order taker during the sales hiring process is actually pretty easy.  While many sales managers will tell you they can easily spot an order taker in the interview process, it is rare that they can do so consistently.  In fact, I have found the average sales manager is correct perhaps 10-25 percent of the time when it comes to hiring a good salesperson.  

The best way to identify an order taker is to objectively measure the candidate's Behaviors and Motivators through a powerful multi-science sales aptitude personality test.  This is critical.  Keep in mind that most sales personality tests are not particularly accurate and they only measure Behaviors.  

The Typical Behavioral Style of Order Taker Salespeople 

When identifying the behavioral style of sales candidates, there are two important dimensions to identify - People vs. Task and Ask vs. Tell orientation:  

  • People vs Task - Is the candidate more "people-oriented" or "task-oriented"?  Your better salespeople are a combination of both actually - but they have a higher "Task" orientation than "People" orientation.  
  • Ask vs Tell - Is the candidate more "assertive" or more "passive"?  The more passive a candidate is, the more averse to conflict they will be and conflict avoidance is very bad for consultative sales.  Hunter salespeople - particularly outside sales are more assertive.  

It is extremely difficult to identify the motivators of a sales candidate in the interview process alone.  

The Typical Motivators of Order Taker Salespeople

Most sales professionals - particularly the top 20th percentile performers (sales wolves) have two strong motivators - the desire to make money (Utilitarian) and the desire to shape their own future (Individualistic).  If the Utilitarian and the Individualistic are low, the likelihood of a salesperson being an order taker is greatly-increased.

If the sales candidate has a strong desire to be helpful to others (Social) in combination with a low Utilitarian / Individualistic, they are much more likely to be an order taker.  Yes...  You want salespeople motivated to help others - but you want them to want to make money as a primary driver to help others.  Otherwise they take orders.  

It is extremely difficult to identify the motivators of a sales candidate in the interview process alone.  


Use a valid Sales Personality Test to avoid hiring order takers

Smart companies use a valid sales personality to identify future “sales wolves” – top 20th percentile performers and avoid order takers. If you are not using a valid sales personality test like the TriMetrix® HD, then you are much more likely to find out you hired an order taker after you have made your hiring decision.

Sales Personality Aptitude Test Sample Assessment