Are You an Order Taker or a Salesperson?

There’s an argument going on and it’s time for me to weigh in. For years I’ve heard managers complain that their salespeople are “lazy order takers.” I’ve witnessed teammates jab at one another by delivering the lowest of all low-blow insults: “You’re nothing but an order taker.”

So what’s so wrong with being an order taker?

Better yet, what’s the difference between an order taker and a salesperson?

The difference, in my not-so-humble opinion, lies not in the title but in the attitude, the approach, and the effort of the individual. It’s the difference between being proactive and reactive. Between giving a prospect a quote and giving a prospect a show. It’s a combination of attributes and qualities rather than a scientific definition. Let’s compare:

Order taker
• Reactive.
• Borders on passive.
• “Call me if you decide you want it.”
• Waits for the phone to ring.
• Does what the customer asks.
• Gives great information.
• Can make a decent living.

• Proactive.
• Follows up.
• Asks for the sale…every time.
• Makes the phone ring.
• Does what’s best for the customer.
• Gets great information.
• Can make a fortune.

Perhaps the best way to truly identify the difference between an order taker and a salesperson is to consider the difference between a bartender and a sommelier. A bartender (like an order taker) waits behind the bar for customers, and fulfills requests for drinks on demand. But a sommelier, that’s a different story. A sommelier is more consultative in nature, asking questions of their customers, and making a final recommendation based on their customers’ responses. A sommelier combines their product knowledge with their ability to uncover buying motives.

So which are you?

Bartender or sommelier?

Order taker or salesperson?

Which would you like to be?

Pick your title. Then go earn it in the eyes of your customers.


photo credit: Jacobs Photography

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