The 7-Roles of Highly Competent Salespeople: Role #2: The Client Focused Positioner

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 second 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 distinguish yourself and your company in a buying environment where buyers have large amounts of choice, information, and power. You will not only seek to understand your position in your prospect's minds, but work diligently to ensure you stay truly-focused on understanding your prospect or client.

General Expectations:

In this role, you will build on the work of your Planner Role. You must gather enough customer, market, and business data to support your Positioner Role (the next role). You will take the more generalized information from the previous Planner Role and leverage it to find out what is important to a specific and unique buyer. Because consumers perceive solutions as becoming more and more similar over time, you must develop an approach that protects your solution from becoming a commodity if possible (a commodity is a product or service that is differentiated only on price). To do this, you must learn to create an approach that will resonate with the buyer - based on unique benefits as perceived by the specific buyer.

You will have to ensure that marketing and selling messages do not conflict with that “uniqueness. ” To achieve this, you will focus on gathering as much knowledge as possible from your Planner role and refine that knowledge into a customized initial approach for the unique prospect. If you do not have enough information to accomplish this, you will leverage your Communicator Role to attain it. You will work diligently to ensure there that your prospective buyer has a clear understanding of your solution, a clear characteristic and feature message that the understand, and a clear understanding of a distinctive set of core benefits that you will (hopefully) leverage with your Catalyst Role (the next role) into a sale.

Pre-Sale Expectations:

Before the sale occurs, you will be extremely focused on what the buyer wants and needs and you will work diligently to consider your own company's strengths and weaknesses as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the competition in an attempt to understand a gap your company might be able to fill. You will gather enough information to clearly, succinctly, and precisely understand the value your company will provide to the targeted segment of the market you identified with your Planner Role.

To determine needs and set expectations, you will actively seek out buying decision-makers and engage them in a way that synchronizes with their decision-making process. You will work with them to understand how your company's solution is different than others in the marketplace while maintaining the flexibility to come up with new ideas or solutions if necessary (and attainable by your company). You will build a strategy that identifies a target market or prospect and then uniquely tailor an approach that maximizes your chance of success in creating a sales dialogue. To do this, you will develop “differentiators” (i. e. guaranteed aggressive response times, preferential rates on all goods and services, dedicated account and support personnel, escalation lists, access to the consulting firm's senior management for problem resolution, etc)

If your company does not have a unique benefit or if your company sells commodities (paper, printing, office supplies, consumables, etc); you are required to differentiate your company through your own personal interactions with buyers – your personal positioning.

Post-Sale Expectations:

After the sale occurs, you will work to identify new opportunities by re-positioning or re-packaging new solutions to meet new needs that your Facilitator and Catalyst Roles uncover.

Required Traits of This Role:

You will be asked to be emotionally strong, customer-focused, creative, market oriented, strategic, conscientious, and curious in this role. You must also have the ability to improvise and take abstract ideas and make them “concrete. "


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:

Or at


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