The 7-Roles of Highly Competent Salespeople: Role #1 - The Strategic Planner

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 first role in greater detail (please see my other articles for in depth explanations of the other roles. )


Primary Focus of This Role:

You will work to understand how to align and ‘package’ your corporate mission and structure to one that best supports the customer's buying processes. This will allow you to connect with them and create a compelling enough differentiator to consider your company as a potential source.

General Expectations:

To be successful in this role, you will need to work with internal management, marketers, and product development team members to approach the market in the best possible manner to capture market share. You will identify what needs to happen to have your solution identified as a ‘valuable benefit’ in the prospect's mind. You will also work with your team to develop where you want this position to evolve to over time.

You will fact-find with key individuals inside your firm and lead the internal efforts to create an appealing message that buyers will understand and appreciate (leveraging your manager role). You will blend corporate strategy with an approach that requires a deep understanding of buyers in your unique territory and develop a comprehensive solution that fills their need and meets their expectations in order to hand it off to your “positioner role. "

You will conduct a personal needs analysis to ensure you identify any weaknesses or gaps in your selling knowledge, abilities, or skill that will prevent you from being effective in your other roles.

Pre-Sale Expectations:

You will focus on “setting up" the selling cycle while ensuring you do not lose sight of the buying organization throughout. You will put systems, processes, and tools in place to align selling efforts and activities with marketing and fulfillment activities to ensure the revenue-generation “system" of your organization is poised to target and deliver an appropriate solution. You will work with management and leadership to ensure they have the adequate information necessary to support your other roles. You will ensure you have the proper resources to identify the totality of pending sales opportunities to include 1) aspects of the dimension of the sale, 2) the timing of the sale and 3) type of deal surrounding each individual transaction.

You will ensure you have a way to tap into your personal and organizational knowledge framework to include past experiences and best practices. You will build continuous selling improvement tactics into your overall strategy. In this role, you will brainstorm to solicit ideas as well as proactively plan and adequately document your plan for the full cycle of each transaction experience from “cradle to grave” of an opportunity. With this as a focus, you will identify potential impediments and roadblocks to your processes or strategy.

Post-Sale Expectations:

You will adjust necessary components of your selling strategy from your experiences and prepare for new opportunities with this new knowledge. You will begin to fully customize your own unique approach and methodology leveraging your corporate (if applicable) and personal methods. You will use this role to proactively plan, manage, and tailor your approach to your own unique environment. Since all selling organizations are not the same, you should strive to achieve a higher level of understanding of the different ways of attaining satisfaction in your unique client base, your unique territory, and your unique selling organization.

Required Traits of This Role:

In this role, you should have a strategic orientation, ability to see the big picture, and have the ability to tie long term vision into short-term goals. You should be straight-forward, and have high intellect. You should also be a problem-solver and a fact finder.


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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