Managing different sales personas

All salespeople are different. We call them yellow, red, blue and green salespeople.


Forget about stereotypes

People outside of sales think that there is just one type of salesperson: pushy. Often the assumption is that salespeople are extraordinarily extroverted. 

The best sales people are a balance of listeners and talkers. They are "ambiverts". In "Rethinking the Extraverted Sales Ideal: The Ambivert Advantage" Adam Grant showed that ambiverts "express sufficient assertiveness and enthusiasm to persuade and close a sale but are more inclined to listen to customers’ interests". This is the key selling skill.

Apart from personality types how else can you assess salespeople?

At PipelineCheck we have identified different types of salespeople based on the effort they are putting in and the effectiveness they are having. 

Broadly we measure effort and sales achievement.

Yellow Salespeople

Lots of effort with low sales achievement shows a lack of qualification skills and the listening skills to close a deal. We call these "Ineffective" aka "busy fools". They work hard on all their opportunities but don't get the same results as peers with similar or even lower levels of effort. These "busy fools" can have a build up of opportunities in their sales pipeline because they never walk away and they never hear the signals that say this opportunity is not real.


  • Qualify opportunities better with more hard questions about the decision making process
  • Listen to the best reps to learn how to improve the effectiveness of calls

Red Salespeople

There is another group of salespeople who do not seem to be putting in the effort, specifically effort on opportunities. They may be resolving customer issues or having lots of coffees/dead end conversations but they don't create or work enough opportunities to be successful. This can be laziness or sometimes gun-shy. They don't feel they have the skills to go out and sell so they freeze like a rabbit in the headlights. They need more opportunities to help them cut their teeth and learn from trial and error.


  • Spend less time on dead-end conversations and focus on uncovering opportunities
  • Ramp up the effort on real opportunities

Blue salespeople

The third "quadrant" of reps are salespeople who glide. They do not seem to do a lot but they close a lot. They make selling look effortless. In many ways this is the best group of salespeople because they are highly skilled. They may be able to exceed targets even with less accounts than others. They could be leaders or help develop sales methodologies to help others win. The key is that these reps needs to be good users of the CRM system so that people can get an accurate picture of how they are working. This is not just a question of logging everything they do. They should also be giving insight into how they do it. Other salespeople or managers or sales effectiveness/productivity coaches should be able to read their notes to understand what kind of conversations they are having and to get the detail in terms of qualification/discovery questions or objections that were handled to drive the sale to conclusion. These reps are a confident group and need to be convinced that it is in their best interest to show others what makes them successful. These reps are looking to be challenged to get to the next level of sales success.


  • Reinforce the need to use CRM and improve the qualify of data in
  • Challenge them with stretch goals in terms of the number and value of opportunities they are working

Green salespeople

The reps who are successful in the long term are those who work hardest provided they are learning as they go. This is the final quadrant: Productive salespeople. They do more than most and they close more than most. They have a process that they follow and get results. Their work translates into sales success. They don't coast when they are ahead of their peers: they double down. They are not afraid to share their knowledge or the way they work with their peers. They use the CRM system. These reps should be leveraged. They could be future leaders. They should certainly be given the opportunity to mentor and to shape sales processes.


  • Involve them in defining sales processes and training
  • Encourage them to mentor less effective salespeople
  • Recognise them for providing leadership in sales and CRM system usage

What kind of reps are you managing?

PipelineCheck's Retrospective analyses the effort and effect of your sales team. As well as providing this analysis we can provide specific key performance indicators for improving sales people.