Modern Selling: 4 Qualities of a Modern Salesperson

July 11, 2023
In the changing world of technology sales, these four characteristics are critical for sales success

This article originally appeared in the July 2023 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention Security Business magazine on LinkedIn and @SecBusinessMag on Twitter.

As I have written about and stated a million times, the business-to-business buying process has changed more in the last 15 years than it had in the previous 100 years. It has changed so much that most classic sales techniques are obsolete. There are dozens of reasons for salespeople to change their tactics, but the core motive is that customers no longer need salespeople for information.

For centuries, salespeople were the conduit between consumers and information. For this reason, customers would schedule appointments with salespeople, come out of their offices to talk with cold callers, and schedule time to understand proposals. Decisions were made by one person because others in the organization couldn’t challenge it if it was a bad decision.

Not today. In today’s environment, customers can gather information on any topic at any time for free. They won’t give salespeople time until they need a quote, and committees make decisions because no one wants the responsibility of making decisions that everyone can judge.

With these changes comes a need for a different type of salesperson. Here are four things that illustrate what a great salesperson looks like today:

1. Above everything else, great salespeople are subject matter experts.

In the past, salespeople were the relationship builders, entertainers, and door-openers. When the conversation turned technical, they would bring in a sales engineer to perform demonstrations, meet with IT, or dive deep into a specification. The salesperson was always the primary contact. They were the conduit to all general information and were needed.

Not today. Since customers can gather information online, if a salesperson brings in a subject matter expert to answer the tough questions, then they will never receive a return call again. The customer will get their easy answers online and their hard answers by contacting the sales engineer.

While some might think the answer is to make engineers into salespeople, that’s not the solution because of the many other skills that will be lost. The solution is for salespeople to become subject matter experts. Sure, you can have the assistance of technical people, when necessary, but salespeople should be able to engage in 90 to 95% of the conversations and become a resource to their customers.

2. They lead customers through the buying process.

Conventional wisdom and fears of confrontation suggest that salespeople should offer multiple options and leave the decision to the customer. Of course, they should try to close them, but give them choices.

In today’s world, consumers have too many choices, and they need a subject matter expert that they respect to tell them what to do. Yes, tell them what to do. If a salesperson knows the best solution for their customers, they can offer two or three options, but they must make a suggestion. Something as simple and direct as “of the three options, I recommend that you move forward with number two because …”

 Once you establish the status of being their leader, your customers will come to you for guidance on all facets of their security needs.

3. They target their prospects … and they prospect.

“Throw as much mud against the wall as possible and see what sticks” used to be a relevant statement. In today’s world, mud doesn’t stick, no matter how much you throw on the wall.

To get a foot in the door of new prospective accounts, great salespeople go much deeper. They do their research, share content, deliver unsolicited proposals, and slowly build a perception of expertise. These things cannot be accomplished if a salesperson is calling on every company in the marketplace.

The great ones create a targeted list of prospects based on the level of expertise they have on those types of companies. If you have a ton of past performance and knowledge on the retail market, why waste your time calling on the local seaport?

4. They work hard.

Finally, in today’s environment, great salespeople are still the hardest working people in the company.

Chris Peterson is the founder and president of Vector Firm (, a sales consulting and training company built specifically for the security industry. Use "Security Business" as a coupon code to receive a 10% lifetime discount at To request more info about the company, visit 

About the Author

Chris Peterson

Chris Peterson is the founder and president of Vector Firm, a sales consulting and training company built specifically for the security industry. Use “Security Business” as a coupon code to receive a 10% lifetime discount at the Vector Firm Academy.  •  (321) 439-3025