The 7-Roles of Highly Competent Salespeople: Role #7 - The Value-Driven Guardian

Brian Lambert

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A “role” is defined as the characteristic and expected social behavior of an individual. We all play many roles in life, such as parent or salesperson, and it is not difficult to see how this sense of the word role is related to its meaning in theater, where a “role” was played by a character.

All of these factors have a significant negative impact on self esteem, professional self image and consequently resilience in the face of adversity. In short, without a clear definition of the roles you are to play, the amount of work you are to perform and how these roles intertwine, you may end up like the other thousands of salespeople a year who do not make it in the profession. I will now define professional selling roles and what is generally expected in each.


  1. "The Strategic Planner"
  2. "The Client-Focused Positioner"
  3. "The Persuasive Communicator"
  4. "The Focused Catalyst"
  5. "The Concerted Facilitator"
  6. "The Effective Manager"
  7. "The Value-Driven Guardian"

These roles are created by understanding the phases of building customer satisfaction and loyalty (as outlined by the United Professional Sales Association). Their model focuses on the entire transaction experience of a buyer, from initial needs identification, through decision-making, selection, and purchasing. More importantly, this transaction experience continues past the purchase into implementation - and beyond into measuring the quality and return-on-investment of the solution.

In this article, I will explain the seventh role in greater detail (please see my other articles for in depth explanations of the other roles. )

Primary Focus of This Role:

The primary focus of this role is to build relationships internally and externally. To accomplish this, you will have to build customer trust.

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General Expectations:

You must clearly understand when ethical issues arise and counter them accordingly. You must maintain high standards of conduct and moral judgment. You will be expected to build relationships where people trust you. Trust will be based on your reputation. Trust will come from your customers’ experience with you over time, from knowing that what you say is true and in the best interests of their company. You must work diligently to earn that trust. Since this is the case, this person is relying on you to help him or her achieve their goals. From an ethical perspective, then, the establishment of trust between you and your customer precludes any form of dishonesty, even those seemingly harmless “white lies” used to save face or avoid uncomfortable or embarrassing situations.

You will build your credibility through your performance. To do this, you will have to possess and display a belief in your company, its products and the way it does business. It means having a thorough knowledge of your products and their applications and showing a willingness to learn about your customers and their unique problems and needs. Credibility comes from a track record of successes and an ability to apply the lessons learned. It's at the heart of true professionalism. Just like trust, credibility will take you time to build and will depend heavily on your professional reputation.

You will be expected to "protect" and "expand" in three primary areas (yourself, your company, and your accounts):

Protect Yourself
Ethical code of conduct (the only global ethical code for salespeople is regulated by the United Professional Sales Association). While it is not practical or possible to establish written ethical requirements that apply to all situations and circumstances, you should internalize a code of conduct based on your values. You should understand that the objectives as well as the fundamental principles of an Ethical Code (such as the United Professional Sales Association Ethical Code) are of a general nature. You should not use the ethical code to solve a ethical problems in a specific cases where you should seek legal counsel. You should consider the principles set out in the Ethical Code as the basic principles you should follow when performing your work.

You should understand that buyers and fellow team mates are human beings with many different roles. Individuals may have a role as a buyer, a coach, a parent, a father/mother, a husband/wife, a leader, a follower, a church leader, a student, and a volunteer. Each of these roles is fighting for attention within a buyer at different times. In today’s world, you must also be able to understand the global implications of “selling. " In this environment, you must weigh the cultural, gender, and international ramifications of conducting business because Value judgments and laws vary widely across genders, cultures and countries.

You should also identify the personal social support you need to maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle. You must always guard against a detrimental outlook or attitude with yourself and others. You must ensure you have taken adequate inventory of your personal values and how they relate to your selling strengths and weaknesses so you won't put yourself into any awkward situations.

You must never defame another business by making unfair or untrue statements to customers about a competitor, its product, its financial condition, its business practices, or its salespeople. You must never seek reciprocity or other special relationship where two companies agree to buy products from each other and you must avoid “tying agreements" where a buyer is required to purchase one product in order to get another product. You must guard against conspiracy (an agreement between competitors before customers are contacted) as well as collusion (competitors working together while the customer is making a purchase decision).

Protect Your Company

In this role, you must have a savvy legal Understanding of the applicable laws and regulations that apply. You must ensure your company is never accused of trying to get a customer to break a contract with a competitor, tampering with a competitor’s product, confusing a competitor’s market research by buying merchandise from stores, or giving unjustified special prices, discounts, or services to some customers and not to others (price discrimination).

You should also guarding against “bad" business, where the client relationship would be detrimental to the firm (such as selling something that cannot be delivered). You should properly and professionally represent the brand name and reputation of your firm. You should also ensure you protect the firm's intellectual property by properly managing your communications and physical assets.

Protect Your Accounts

You should work diligently to Keep the accounts you have because it is much more expensive and time consuming to find a new client. You should build relationships through trust and credibility to ensure that you do not lose clients to the competition without a fair chance to provide a counter-recommendation.

You must ensure that all specific statements about your product’s performance are accurate and not misleading. You must ensure that all specific positive statements about performance can be supported by evidence. You should also remind customers to pay attention to warnings and operating instructions as well as caution customers on how the product should be used if they are contemplating using product applications inappropriately. You should ascertain a new customer’s experience and knowledge and make recommendations to ensure they attain the expected outcome.

Expand Yourself
You should continuously improve yourself and your clients through learning, reading new books, staying on top of new trends, and generally increasing your knowledge of business, the buyer, your solution, and yourself. You should seek to maintain an unbiased view of the current state. You should watch for a bias against change. You should expand yourself in relation to what you were before, what you are now and what you want to become.

Expand Your Company
You should strive to capture the key information that your leadership team might need to proactively respond to issues before they become crises. If appropriate, you should offer constructive criticism of policies and procedures that could be detrimental to the Guardian Role. You should seek to offer new ideas regarding efficiency, positioning, processes, reporting, and team-building. You should offer feedback from your customers to your organization about new product ideas. You should volunteer and “give back" to the profession of selling such as Volunteering in the community or with a trade association of sales people.

Expand Your Accounts

You should find creative strategies for expanding your relationships with current account (i. e. offering a greater quantity for a slightly higher price). You should find ways to promote “add-on" items (i. e. such as promoting accessories for electrical goods, such as batteries, tapes and carry-cases). You may want to offer related products or a premium product. Besides expanding the business relationship, you may want to expand the customer's knowledge by providing them important information from 3rd party sources (i. e. newspapers and magazines).

Required Traits of This Role:

Empathy is defined as the ability of the salesperson to relate to customers effectively. An example of empathy is where a salesperson making a lot of money is selling insurance to less fortunate individuals. If the salesperson understands that the customer can only afford the bare necessities, he is more likely to make the sale by not pressuring the customer into buying something the customer cannot afford. In other words, being able to understand the customer's financial situation. Empathy is the guidance mechanism that allows the salesperson to follow the prospect through evasions and objections until the prospect's real needs are targeted and the sale is closed


Brian is the Chairman and Founder of the the United Professional Sales Association (UPSA). UPSA is a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington DC that has addressed the concerns and challenges of individual sales professionals. Brian has authored the world’s first universal selling standards and open-source selling framework for free distribution. This ‘Compendium of Professional Selling’ containing the commonly accepted and universally functional knowledge that all sales professionals possess. The open-source selling standards have been downloaded in 16 countries by over 300 people. Over 30 people have made contributions.

Because UPSA is not owned by one person or any company, it is a member organization and guardian of the global standard of entry into the sales profession.

Find out about the membership organization and understand the processes and framework of professional selling at the UPSA Website at .

Find out more about Brian at:

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