The Days Of The Lone Wolf Salesperson Are Back

Actually, they never departed.

The lone wolf salespeople, you know them – the ones who hate process, think CRM systems are junk food for metrics-minded idiots, and blow out their numbers – are alive and well.

Any endeavor, any product, trends toward homogenization.

Unique products attract knock-offs. Cutting-edge ideas are overwhelmed with imitators, sold cheaply. Great salespeople change a company’s trajectory and soon it hires brain-dead sales monkeys who dial for dollars while a sales innovator moves on after a territory is cut 5 times.

You have seen it happen. At least you have if you are over 35 years old.

You also have seen the stats:  80% or more of B2B reps do not make quota. The average life of a sales VP is 18 – 23 months. Most salespeople last about 17 – 18 months then quit or are fired. CEOs get tossed after firing the third sales VP.

If all you do is read insipid cliches on social media and download whitepapers on “revenue platforms” that add zero value to the sales process, you may have missed something. Some small, high-tech companies are thriving, and their reps cannot wait to get into the fight every dawn.

These hot little companies found the future and are winning deals, driving valuation, creating customer-demanded product enhancements that open new markets.

Such firms hired the lone wolf sales personality.

They never considered building a Marketo-SPAM-generating email machine sending electronic junk mail to strangers’ Hotmail accounts. They did not buy into the nonsense that every breath someone took needs to be logged in a CRM system. Nor did they suffer equity devaluations from multiple funding rounds to fund this nonsense.

Lone wolves terrify mediocre sales managers because they do not need “coaching” from some kid who never saw a 7-figure commission check and never will. They operate from a premise that actions failing to advance a sale are wasted. Forecasts come from a tattered envelope in a backpack, not a multi-colored spreadsheet tied to 5 sales op systems.

The lone wolf salesperson is “alone” because they don’t suck up useless resources to find that elusive big sale.

They are quite “not alone” in their territory.

They know every influencer personally. They make it their business to understand a competitor’s offering and position it for them – badly. They create networks of supporters who bring them the intelligence of a possible interested party well before anyone hears about it.

The lone wolf salesperson is a salesperson first.

Their opposite is the bureaucrat sales type needing massive infrastructure to get a first call set up. That sales bureaucrat cannot live without a marketing machine, inbound sales “leads,”, account-based whatever and a score of other nonsensical SaaS platforms eating up daylight.

The lone wolf salesperson is the CEO’s dream. At least they are if that CEO has serious equity in the company.

They are in the territory all the time, not sitting in a useless meeting. They leverage relationships to get to the right person fast. When they show up, they add value and generate respect. They qualify out middle management time wasters who want to eat high carb lunches and defer decisions.

Lone wolf sales personalities are impatient. They won’t settle sacrificing their time to sit through a 3-day QBR (quarterly business review) waterboarding exercise so some third-level marketing manager can gain “insight to their sales process.”

Lone wolf sales personalities impact the trajectory of the companies where they land.

If the product is not quite right, maybe not a perfect fit, they find a way to position it differently. If their company is a new entrant against an industry standard, they find the early adopter and start the market shift.

The lone wolf is the entire salesperson in the territory. They are the company’s marketing resource, adapting messaging to the individual. They build out the trusted advisor relationships to get into C-level discussions early.

The lone wolf salesperson has not been getting any attention because the social media “sales coaches” who inhabit those sites cannot add value to a lone wolf.

These sales coaches were the bureaucrats the lone wolves left behind.